AbstractIn addition to abundant animal communities, corals from all ocean depths support diverse microbial associates that are important to coral health. While some of these microbes have been classified taxonomically, understanding the metabolic potential of coral-associated bacteria and how they interact with their coral hosts is limited by a lack of genomic data. One example is Mycoplasma and other members of the class Mollicutes which are widespread coral associates. Here we investigated the association between two novel members of the class Mollicutes and the deep-sea octocoral Callogorgia delta. We screened C. delta, a closely related species C. americana, sediment, and water for mollicutes using 16S metabarcoding. One ASV was found in most colonies screened (99/108) and often dominated the microbiome (up to 99%). Another ASV was detected at lower abundance and prevalence in these corals. Both were absent in all water and were absent or rare in the sediment. We sequenced metagenomes and metatranscriptomes to assemble and annotate genomes and propose the names Ca. Oceanoplasma callogorgiae and Ca. Thalassoplasma callogorgiae. The genomes were small, revealed a reliance on the arginine dihydrolase pathway for ATP production, and contained CRISPR-Cas systems with extensive arrays. CARD-FISH microscopy unveiled an abundant bacterium in the mesoglea which is likely to be Ca. O. callogorgiae. These novel mollicutes cluster with others from diverse invertebrate hosts. Altogether, this work describes the association of these novel mollicutes in C. delta, provides insight into widespread coral associates, and identifies a novel clade of marine mollicutes whose diversity remains largely undiscovered.
AbstractMost autotrophs use the Calvin–Benson–Bassham (CBB) cycle for carbon fixation. In contrast, all currently described autotrophs from the Campylobacterota (previously Epsilonproteobacteria) use the reductive tricarboxylic acid cycle (rTCA) instead. We discovered campylobacterotal epibionts (“CandidatusThiobarba”) of deep-sea mussels that have acquired a complete CBB cycle and may have lost most key genes of the rTCA cycle. Intriguingly, the phylogenies of campylobacterotal CBB cycle genes suggest they were acquired in multiple transfers from Gammaproteobacteria closely related to sulfur-oxidizing endosymbionts associated with the mussels, as well as from Betaproteobacteria. We hypothesize that “Ca. Thiobarba” switched from the rTCA cycle to a fully functional CBB cycle during its evolution, by acquiring genes from multiple sources, including co-occurring symbionts. We also found key CBB cycle genes in free-living Campylobacterota, suggesting that the CBB cycle may be more widespread in this phylum than previously known. Metatranscriptomics and metaproteomics confirmed high expression of CBB cycle genes in mussel-associated “Ca. Thiobarba”. Direct stable isotope fingerprinting showed that “Ca. Thiobarba” has typical CBB signatures, suggesting that it uses this cycle for carbon fixation. Our discovery calls into question current assumptions about the distribution of carbon fixation pathways in microbial lineages, and the interpretation of stable isotope measurements in the environment.