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Ancient symbiosis between animals and bacteria discovered
Date:6/27/2011

l other important intracellular symbionts come from this class, most notably the mitochondria, which are the crucial power plants in the cells of all higher organisms. The nitrogen-fixing root nodule bacteria of leguminous plants, as well as dangerous pathogens such as the causative agent of epidemic typhus, also belong to this class. In recent years several studies have presented evidence that the mechanisms in symbiotic and pathogenic relationships are similar or even identical. Future projects with Paracatenula and its symbionts called "Riegeria" could give fundamental insights into the mechanisms that have allowed Alpha-Poteobacteria several times to establish an intracellular lifestyle independently.

Another captivating detail of the Paracatenula Riegeria symbiosis is that the symbionts that live in specialized cells called Bacteriocytes account for up to 50 percent of the total tissue. That is significantly more than in all other known symbioses between animals and bacteria.

The Paracatenula-Riegeria symbiosis is 500 million years old

Based on genetic sequences of the symbionts the scientists have roughly extrapolated the age of the symbiosis the estimated age of 500 million years makes this symbiosis the oldest known animal bacteria association.

Comparing the phylogenies of hosts and symbionts, another subtle but non trivial detail was uncovered the worms have been passing on their symbionts to their offspring in every generation, without any symbiont switches for the last 500 million years. How this secured symbiont transmission is accomplished is the focus of the current studies in Jrg Ott's lab.


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Contact: Harald Gruber-Vodicka
harald.gruber@univie.ac.at
43-699-171-21909
University of Vienna
Source:Eurekalert  

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