Cutting out the middle clam: lucinid endosymbiotic bacteria are also associated with seagrass roots worldwide

Belinda C. Martin, Jen A. Middleton, Matthew W. Fraser, Ian P.G. Marshall, Vincent V. Scholz, Bertram Hausl, Hannes Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Seagrasses and lucinid bivalves inhabit highly reduced sediments with elevated sulphide concentrations. Lucinids house symbiotic bacteria (Ca. Thiodiazotropha) capable of oxidising sediment sulphide, and their presence in sediments has been proposed to promote seagrass growth by decreasing otherwise phytotoxic sulphide levels. However, vast and productive seagrass meadows are present in ecosystems where lucinids do not occur. Hence, we hypothesised that seagrasses themselves host these sulphur-oxidising Ca. Thiodiazotropha that could aid their survival when lucinids are absent. We analysed newly generated and publicly available 16S rRNA gene sequences from seagrass roots and sediments across 14 seagrass species and 10 countries and found that persistent and colonising seagrasses across the world harbour sulphur-oxidising Ca. Thiodiazotropha, regardless of the presence of lucinids. We used fluorescence in situ hybridisation to visually confirm the presence of Ca. Thiodiazotropha on roots of Halophila ovalis, a colonising seagrass species with wide geographical, water depth range, and sedimentary sulphide concentrations. We provide the first evidence that Ca. Thiodiazotropha are commonly present on seagrass roots, providing another mechanism for seagrasses to alleviate sulphide stress globally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2901-2905
Number of pages5
JournalISME Journal
Volume14
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

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