Endozoicomonadaceae symbiont in gills of Acesta clam encodes genes for essential nutrients and polysaccharide degradation

FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2021 Jun 4;97(6):fiab070. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiab070.


Gammaproteobacteria from the family Endozoicomonadaceae have emerged as widespread associates of dense marine animal communities. Their abundance in coral reefs involves symbiotic relationships and possibly host nutrition. We explored functions encoded in the genome of an uncultured Endozoicomonadaceae 'Candidatus Acestibacter aggregatus' that lives inside gill cells of large Acesta excavata clams in deep-water coral reefs off mid-Norway. The dominance and deep branching lineage of this symbiont was confirmed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing and phylogenomic analysis from shotgun sequencing data. The 4.5 Mb genome binned in this study has a low GC content of 35% and is enriched in transposon and chaperone gene annotations indicating ongoing adaptation. Genes encoding functions potentially involved with the symbiosis include ankyrins, repeat in toxins, secretion and nutritional systems. Complete pathways were identified for the synthesis of eleven amino acids and six B-vitamins. A minimal chitinolytic machinery was indicated from a glycosyl hydrolase GH18 and a lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase LPMO10. Expression of the latter was confirmed using proteomics. Signal peptides for secretion were identified for six polysaccharide degrading enzymes, ten proteases and three lipases. Our results suggest a nutritional symbiosis fuelled by enzymatic products from extracellular degradation processes.

Keywords: Endozoicomonadaceae; Reef; Acesta excavata; degradation; genome; polysaccharide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bivalvia*
  • Gammaproteobacteria* / genetics
  • Gills
  • Norway
  • Nutrients
  • Polysaccharides
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Symbiosis


  • Polysaccharides
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S