Novel forms of structural integration between microbes and a hydrothermal vent gastropod from the Indian Ocean.
Here we describe novel forms of structural integration between endo- and episymbiotic microbes and an unusual new species of snail from hydrothermal vents in the Indian Ocean. The snail houses a dense population of gamma-proteobacteria within the cells of its greatly enlarged esophageal gland. This tissue setting differs from that of all other vent mollusks, which harbor sulfur-oxidizing endosymbionts in their gills. The significantly reduced digestive tract, the isotopic signatures of the snail tissues, and the presence of internal bacteria suggest a dependence on chemoautotrophy for nutrition. Most notably, this snail is unique in having a dense coat of mineralized scales covering the sides of its foot, a feature seen in no other living metazoan. The scales are coated with iron sulfides (pyrite and greigite) and heavily colonized by epsilon- and delta-proteobacteria, likely participating in mineralization of the sclerites. This novel metazoan-microbial collaboration illustrates the great potential of organismal adaptation in chemically and physically challenging deep-sea environments.
Goffredi, SK; Warén, A; Orphan, VJ; Van Dover, CL; Vrijenhoek, RC
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