bioRxiv | 2019

Horizontally transmitted symbiont populations in deep-sea mussels are genetically isolated



Eukaryotes are habitats for bacterial organisms where the host colonization and dispersal among individual hosts have consequences for the bacterial ecology and evolution. Vertical symbiont transmission leads to geographic isolation of the microbial population and consequently to genetic isolation of microbiotas from individual hosts. In contrast, the extent of geographic and genetic isolation of horizontally transmitted microbiota is poorly characterized. Here we show that chemosynthetic symbionts of individual Bathymodiolus brooksi mussels constitute genetically isolated populations. The reconstruction of core genome-wide strain sequences from high-resolution metagenomes revealed distinct phylogenetic clades. Nucleotide diversity and strain composition vary along the mussel lifespan and individual hosts show a high degree of genetic isolation. Our results suggest that the uptake of environmental bacteria is a restricted process in B. brooksi, where self-infection of the gill tissue results in serial founder effects during symbiont evolution. We conclude that bacterial colonization dynamics over the host life-cycle is thus an important determinant of population structure and genome evolution of horizontally transmitted symbionts.

Volume None
Pages None
DOI 10.1101/536854
Language English
Journal bioRxiv

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