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Candidatus Nealsonbacteria (OD1) in a methanogenic benzene-degrading enrichment culture is likely an ectosymbiotic biomass recycler

By Xu Chen, Olivia Molenda, Christopher T. Brown, Courtney R. A. Toth, Shen Guo, Fei Luo, Jane Howe, Camilla L. Nesbo, Christine He, Elizabeth A. Montabana, Jamie H. D. Cate, Jill F Banfield, Elizabeth Anne Edwards

Posted 21 Apr 2022
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2022.04.20.488981

The Candidate Phyla Radiation (CPR, or superphylum Patescibacteria) is a very large group of bacteria with few cultivated representatives first discovered by culture-independent metagenomic analyses. Within the CPR, the candidate phylum Parcubacteria (previously OD1) is prevalent in anoxic lake sediments and groundwater. We identified a bacterium belonging to the Parcubacteria in a methanogenic benzene-degrading enrichment culture originally derived from oil-contaminated sediments. Candidatus Nealsonbacteria DGGOD1a is the only bacterium other than a previously identified benzene-degrading fermenter (Deltaproteobacteria Candidate Sva0485 clade ORM2) consistently and abundantly detected in all active benzene-degrading transfers of this culture. Therefore, we hypothesized that DGGOD1a must serve an important role in sustaining anaerobic benzene metabolism in the consortium. Growth experiments using a variety of possible substrates suggested that it is involved in biomass recycling. Microscopic observations supported by molecular analyses and a closed genome revealed an epibiont lifestyle with very small Ca. Nealsonbacteria DGGOD1a closely associated with much larger Methanosaeta. The images reveal a first example of cross-domain episymbiosis that may apply to other Ca. Nealsonbacteria found in diverse environments.

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