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Thioautotrophic Bacterial Endosymbionts Are Degraded by Enzymatic Digestion During Starvation: Case Study of Two Lucinids Codakia orbicularis and C. orbiculata.

Abstract : The Caribbean bivalves Codakia orbicularis (Linnée, 1758) and C. orbiculata (Montagu, 1808) live in seagrass beds of Thalassia testudinum and harbor intracellular sulfuroxidizing gamma-proteobacteria. These bacterial symbionts fix CO2 via the Calvin Benson cycle and provide organic compounds to the bivalve. During experimentally induced starvation, no reduced sulfur compounds and no organic particle food are available; the symbionts could be considered as the sole nutrient source of the host bivalve. A previous study has shown that the intracellular bacterial population decreased considerably during starvation and that bacterial endosymbionts were not released by the bivalves. In this study, the activity of two lysosomal marker enzymes (acid phosphatase and arylsulfatase) was detected using cytochemical experiments coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray transmission electron microscopy during sulfide and organic particle starvation. The degradation of bacterial endosymbionts began after 2 weeks of starvation in C. orbiculata and after 3 weeks in C. orbicularis. Degradation processes seem to be continuous over several months and could be responsible for the disappearance of the bacterial endosymbionts within the gills during starvation. These data suggest that the host use symbionts as a nutrient source to survive a hunger crisis. The carbon transfer from the symbionts to the host could be flexible and could consist in transfer of organic matter, “milking,” under normal feeding conditions and digestion of the symbionts under starved conditions.
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Submitted on : Friday, January 8, 2016 - 9:19:45 PM
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Sten König, Hervé Le Guyader, Olivier Gros. Thioautotrophic Bacterial Endosymbionts Are Degraded by Enzymatic Digestion During Starvation: Case Study of Two Lucinids Codakia orbicularis and C. orbiculata.. Microscopy Research and Technique, Wiley, 2015, 78 (2), pp.173-179 ⟨10.1002/jemt.22458⟩. ⟨hal-01206367⟩

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