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Microbial Communities in Sunken Wood Are Structured by Wood-Boring Bivalves and Location in a Submarine Canyon

Abstract : The cornerstones of sunken wood ecosystems are microorganisms involved in cellulose degradation. These can either be free-living microorganisms in the wood matrix or symbiotic bacteria associated with wood-boring bivalves such as emblematic species of Xylophaga, the most common deep-sea woodborer. Here we use experimentally submerged pine wood, placed in and outside the Mediterranean submarine Blanes Canyon, to compare the microbial communities on the wood, in fecal pellets of Xylophaga spp. and associated with the gills of these animals. Analyses based on tag pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA bacterial gene showed that sunken wood contained three distinct microbial communities. Wood and pellet communities were different from each other suggesting that Xylophaga spp. create new microbial niches by excreting fecal pellets into their burrows. In turn, gills of Xylophaga spp. contain potential bacterial symbionts, as illustrated by the presence of sequences closely related to symbiotic bacteria found in other wood eating marine invertebrates. Finally, we found that sunken wood communities inside the canyon were different and more diverse than the ones outside the canyon. This finding extends to the microbial world the view that submarine canyons are sites of diverse marine life.
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Sonja K. Fagervold, Chiara Romano, Dimitri Kalenitchenko, Christian Borowski, Amandine Nunes-Jorge, et al.. Microbial Communities in Sunken Wood Are Structured by Wood-Boring Bivalves and Location in a Submarine Canyon. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2014, ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0096248⟩. ⟨hal-01230468⟩

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