Distinct genomic routes underlie transitions to specialised symbiotic lifestyles in deep-sea annelid worms

Giacomo Moggioli, Balig Panossian, Yanan Sun, Daniel Thiel, Francisco M. Martín-Zamora, Martin Tran, Alexander M. Clifford, Shana K. Goffredi, Nadezhda Rimskaya-Korsakova, Gáspár Jékely, Martin Tresguerres, Pei Yuan Qian, Jian Wen Qiu, Greg W. Rouse, Lee M. Henry*, José M. Martín-Durán*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial symbioses allow annelids to colonise extreme ecological niches, such as hydrothermal vents and whale falls. Yet, the genetic principles sustaining these symbioses remain unclear. Here, we show that different genomic adaptations underpin the symbioses of phylogenetically related annelids with distinct nutritional strategies. Genome compaction and extensive gene losses distinguish the heterotrophic symbiosis of the bone-eating worm Osedax frankpressi from the chemoautotrophic symbiosis of deep-sea Vestimentifera. Osedax’s endosymbionts complement many of the host’s metabolic deficiencies, including the loss of pathways to recycle nitrogen and synthesise some amino acids. Osedax’s endosymbionts possess the glyoxylate cycle, which could allow more efficient catabolism of bone-derived nutrients and the production of carbohydrates from fatty acids. Unlike in most Vestimentifera, innate immunity genes are reduced in O. frankpressi, which, however, has an expansion of matrix metalloproteases to digest collagen. Our study supports that distinct nutritional interactions influence host genome evolution differently in highly specialised symbioses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2814
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date17 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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