The deep-sea coral, Callogorgia delta, associates with bacteria belonging to a novel marine branch of the Mollicutes

Vohsen et al. (2022).
Names (2)
“Oceanoplasma callogorgiae” “Thalassoplasma callogorgiae”
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.
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