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Phylogenetic Analysis and Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization Detection of Archaeal and Bacterial Endosymbionts in the Anaerobic Ciliate Trimyema Compressum

Shinzato, Naoya, Watanabe, Ichiro, Meng, Xian-Ying, Sekiguchi, Yuji, Tamaki, Hideyuki, Matsui, Toru, Kamagata, Yoichi
Microbial ecology 2007 v.54 no.4 pp. 627-636
Firmicutes, Methanobrevibacter, cytoplasm, endosymbionts, fermentation, fluorescence, hosts, phylogeny, ribosomal RNA, sterols, symbiosis
The anaerobic free-living ciliate, Trimyema compressum, is known to harbor both methanogenic archaeal and bacterial symbionts in the cytoplasm. To clarify their phylogenetic belongings, a full-cycle rRNA approach was applied to this symbiosis. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the methanogenic symbiont was related to Methanobrevibacter arboriphilicus, which was distantly related to symbionts found in other Trimyema species. This result suggested that Trimyema species do not require very specific methanogenic symbionts, and symbiont replacement could have occurred in the history of Trimyema species. On the other hand, the bacterial symbiont was located near the lineage of the family Syntrophomonadaceae in the phylum Firmicutes. The sequence similarity between the bacterial symbiont and the nearest species was 85%, indicating that bacterial symbionts may be specific to the Trimyema species. The elimination of bacterial symbionts from the ciliate cell by antibiotic treatment resulted in considerably decreased host growth. However, it was not restored by stigmasterol addition (<2 μg ml-¹), which was different from the previous report that showed that the symbiont-free strain required exogenous sterols for growth. In addition, the decline of host growth was not accompanied by host metabolism shift toward the formation of more reduced products, which suggested that the contribution of bacterial symbionts to the host ciliate was not a dispose of excessive reducing equivalent arising from the host's fermentative metabolism as methanogenic symbionts do. This study showed that bacterial symbionts make a significant contribution to the host ciliate by an unknown function and suggested that interactions between bacterial symbionts and T. compressum are more complicated than hitherto proposed.