Symbiotic Adaptation Drives Genome Streamlining of the Cyanobacterial Sponge Symbiont “ Candidatus Synechococcus spongiarum”

Gao et al. (2014). mBio 5 (2)
Ca. Synechococcus spongiarum
Microbiology Virology
ABSTRACT “ Candidatus Synechococcus spongiarum” is a cyanobacterial symbiont widely distributed in sponges, but its functions at the genome level remain unknown. Here, we obtained the draft genome (1.66 Mbp, 90% estimated genome recovery) of “ Ca. Synechococcus spongiarum” strain SH4 inhabiting the Red Sea sponge Carteriospongia foliascens . Phylogenomic analysis revealed a high dissimilarity between SH4 and free-living cyanobacterial strains. Essential functions, such as photosynthesis, the citric acid cycle, and DNA replication, were detected in SH4. Eukaryoticlike domains that play important roles in sponge-symbiont interactions were identified exclusively in the symbiont. However, SH4 could not biosynthesize methionine and polyamines and had lost partial genes encoding low-molecular-weight peptides of the photosynthesis complex, antioxidant enzymes, DNA repair enzymes, and proteins involved in resistance to environmental toxins and in biosynthesis of capsular and extracellular polysaccharides. These genetic modifications imply that “ Ca. Synechococcus spongiarum” SH4 represents a low-light-adapted cyanobacterial symbiont and has undergone genome streamlining to adapt to the sponge’s mild intercellular environment. IMPORTANCE Although the diversity of sponge-associated microbes has been widely studied, genome-level research on sponge symbionts and their symbiotic mechanisms is rare because they are unculturable. “ Candidatus Synechococcus spongiarum” is a widely distributed uncultivated cyanobacterial sponge symbiont. The genome of this symbiont will help to characterize its evolutionary relationship and functional dissimilarity to closely related free-living cyanobacterial strains. Knowledge of its adaptive mechanism to the sponge host also depends on the genome-level research. The data presented here provided an alternative strategy to obtain the draft genome of “ Ca. Synechococcus spongiarum” strain SH4 and provide insight into its evolutionary and functional features.
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