Linking bacterial symbiont physiology to the ecology of hydrothermal vent symbioses

Symbioses between prokaryotes and eukaryotes are ubiquitous in our biosphere, yet we still know little about the role that prokaryotic symbionts play in the ecology of their associations. Even at chemosynthetic ecosystems that are dominated by prokaryote-eukaryote symbioses, the ecological effects of symbiont activity are poorly understood. Here, we used both in situ preservation and high-pressure shipboard experiments conducted with Alviniconcha, a genus of symbiotic hydrothermal vent snail from the Eastern Lau Spreading Center, in order to understand the links between environmental chemistry and symbiont physiological capacity and poise. A survey of Alviniconcha at vents across a regional geochemical gradient revealed a structured biogeographic distribution of genetically distinct host types (likely cryptic species) and their specific symbiont phylotypes. This survey implicates the characteristics of symbiont physiology, namely H2 and H2S metabolism, in governing the niche partitioning of Alviniconcha host types. Indeed, metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses have revealed differences in energy and nitrogen metabolism genes among the symbionts of Alviniconcha that relate to geochemical niche. Symbiont physiology may prove key to understanding the structure of vent communities, as well as local biogeochemical cycles.

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First Name: 
Roxanne
Last Name: 
Beinart
Telephone: 
978-618-6455
Affiliation: 
Harvard University
First Name: 
Jon
Last Name: 
Sanders
Affiliation: 
Harvard University
First Name: 
Chengwei
Last Name: 
Luo
Affiliation: 
Georgia Institute of Technology
First Name: 
Kostas
Last Name: 
Konstantinidis
Affiliation: 
Georgia Institute of Technology
First Name: 
Peter
Last Name: 
Girguis
Affiliation: 
Harvard University
Choose keywords that are most applicable to your abstract. (Three maximum.): 
Distribution and abundance
Ecological Interactions
Physiology
Abstract ID: 
CBE5-140