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BathyBiome Report Summary

Project ID: 340535
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Germany

Mid-Term Report Summary - BATHYBIOME (The Symbiome of Bathymodiolus Mussels from Hydrothermal Vents: From the Genometo the Environment)

The overarching goal of BathyBiome is to develop a systematic understanding of the symbiotic interactions between microbes, their hosts, and their environment in one of the most extreme, yet highly productive habitats on Earth, hydrothermal vents. We have conducted five successful sampling campaigns to collect deep-sea mussels and perform in situ and on-board experiments. So far, our major research achievements include genome and transcriptome sequencing of the microbiomes of at least six mussel species from around the world. Comparative analyses of these datasets have identified genomic and metabolic adaptations of the symbionts to their hosts and to local environmental conditions. We have discovered novel symbionts that had been overlooked in previous studies of the Bathymodiolus microbiome, and novel metabolic pathways in the previously known symbionts and those that have been discovered through this project. Our discovery of a pathway for methanol oxidation in the sulfur-oxidizing symbionts of some mussels hints at interactions between co-occurring symbionts, and demonstrates how environmental conditions such as the concentration of symbiont energy sources in vent fluids can influence symbiont genome evolution. Symbiont population genomic and differential gene expression analyses have identified some of the pathways and underlying mechanisms of host colonization, significant steps forward in understanding host-microbe interactions in these deep-sea symbioses.

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