Symbiotic assemblage composition in the Northeast Pacific tubeworm Ridgeia piscesae: picking the right partners.

Horizontally transmitted symbionts are acquired from the free-living microbial communities inhabiting the surrounding environment. This process involves an aposymbiotic phase and the selection of the appropriate phylotypes. In order to investigate this phenomenon, we studied the composition of symbiotic assemblages associated with new recruits of the vestimentiferan tubeworm Ridgeia piscesae, which was recently shown to harbour multiple symbiont phylotypes. We used 454 pyrosequencing data to construct seven libraries from seven different sampling sites, each resulting from the trophosome of five short (between 2-5 cm) tubeworms scrapped from adult individuals and pooled together. We compared our results with pyrosequencing data obtained from adult R. piscesae collected from the same sites. While the common symbiont to all vent vestimentiferans was detected in high relative abundance in all individuals, investigation of the membership and the structure of symbiotic assemblages suggested that symbiont phylotypes are more similar within than between sampling sites. In addition, we observed a shift in the proportion of the most abundant phylotypes between new recruits and adults. This shift could be explained by different physiological requirements of R. piscesae in response to life stage.

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Department of Biology - University of Victoria
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Department of Biology and Earth and Ocean Sciences - University of Victoria
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Trophic relations (including symbiosis)
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