Chemosynthetic ectosymbionts associated with a shallow-water marine nematode

Abstract : Prokaryotes and free-living nematodes are both very abundant and co-occur in marine environments, but little is known about their possible association. Our objective was to characterize the microbiome of a neglected but ecologically important group of free-living benthic nematodes of the Oncholaimidae family. We used a multi-approach study based on microscopic observations (Scanning Electron Microscopy and Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization) coupled with an assessment of molecular diversity using metabarcoding based on the 16S rRNA gene. All investigated free-living marine nematode specimens harboured distinct microbial communities (from the surrounding water and sediment and through the seasons) with ectosymbiosis seemed more abundant during summer. Microscopic observations distinguished two main morphotypes of bacteria (rod-shaped and filamentous) on the cuticle of these nematodes, which seemed to be affiliated to Campylobacterota and Gammaproteobacteria, respectively. Both ectosymbionts belonged to clades of bacteria usually associated with invertebrates from deep-sea hydrothermal vents. The presence of the AprA gene involved in sulfur metabolism suggested a potential for chemosynthesis in the nematode microbial community. The discovery of potential symbiotic associations of a shallow-water organism with taxa usually associated with deep-sea hydrothermal vents, is new for Nematoda, opening new avenues for the study of ecology and bacterial relationships with meiofauna.
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Laure Bellec, Marie-Anne Cambon Bonavita, Stéphane Hourdez, Mohamed Jebbar, Aurélie Tasiemski, et al.. Chemosynthetic ectosymbionts associated with a shallow-water marine nematode. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-43517-8⟩. ⟨hal-02265357⟩

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