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  • V. Riou
  • S. Halary
  • S. Duperron
  • S. Bouillon
  • M. Elskens
  • R. Bettencourt
  • R. Santos
  • F. Dehairs
  • A. Colaço
High densities of mussels of the genus Bathymodiolus are present at hydrothermal vents of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It was previously proposed that the chemistry at vent sites would affect their sulphide- and methane-oxidizing endosymbionts' abundance. In this study, we confirmed the latter assumption using fluorescence in situ hybridization on Bathymodiolus azoricus specimens maintained in a controlled laboratory environment at atmospheric pressure with one, both or none of the chemical substrates. A high level of symbiosis plasticity was observed, methane-oxidizers occupying between 4 and 39% of total bacterial area and both symbionts developing according to the presence or absence of their substrates. Using H13CO3− in the presence of sulphide, or 13CH4, we monitored carbon assimilation by the endosymbionts and its translocation to symbiont-free mussel tissues. Carbon was incorporated from methane and sulphide-oxidized inorganic carbon at rates 3 to 10 times slower in the host muscle tissue than in the symbiont-containing gill tissue. Both symbionts thus contribute actively to B. azoricus nutrition and adapt to the availability of their substrates. Further experiments with varying substrate concentrations using the same set-up should provide useful tools to study and even model the effects of changes in hydrothermal fluids on B. azoricus' chemosynthetic nutrition.
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date2008

ID: 107398