Microbiome reduction and endosymbiont gain from a switch in sea urchin life history.
Animal gastrointestinal tracts harbor a microbiome that is integral to host function, yet species from diverse phyla have evolved a reduced digestive system or lost it completely. Whether such changes are associated with alterations in the diversity and/or abundance of the microbiome remains an untested hypothesis in evolutionary symbiosis. Here, using the life history transition from planktotrophy (feeding) to lecithotrophy (nonfeeding) in the sea urchin Heliocidaris
, we demonstrate that the lack of a functional gut corresponds with a reduction in microbial community diversity and abundance as well as the association with a diet-specific microbiome. We also determine that the lecithotroph vertically transmits a Rickettsiales that may complement host nutrition through amino acid biosynthesis and influence host reproduction. Our results indicate that the evolutionary loss of a functional gut correlates with a reduction in the microbiome and the association with an endosymbiont. Symbiotic transitions can therefore accompany life history transitions in the evolution of developmental strategies.
Carrier, TJ; Leigh, BA; Deaker, DJ; Devens, HR; Wray, GA; Bordenstein, SR; Byrne, M; Reitzel, AM
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