Environ Microbiol Rep (Aug 12 2016)
The flagellate protists in the hindgut of lower termites play an essential role in the digestion of lignocellulose. Most flagellate species are associated with host-specific symbionts from various bacterial lineages, which typically lack cultured representatives. In this study, we analyzed the genome of ‘Candidatus Ancillula trichonymphae’, an endosymbiont of Trichonympha flagellates from dry-wood termites, which represents a novel, family-level lineage of uncultured Actinobacteria encountered so far only in termite guts. The draft genome of ‘Ca. A. trichonymphae’ (ca. 1.48 Mbp; 95% complete) revealed a purely fermentative metabolism that is probably fueled by xylose, N-acetyl-glucosamine, and glycerol 3-phosphate acquired from the flagellate host. The absence of fructose bisphosphate aldolase and the presence of a complete gene set encoding the phosphoketolase pathway underscore the sister position of the new lineage to Bifidobacteriaceae. The preservation of the pathways for the assimilation of ammonia and the synthesis of 18 amino acids and several cofactors and vitamins suggests that ‘Ca. A. trichonymphae’ – like other endosymbionts of termite gut flagellates – provides essential amino acids and vitamins to its host. Our findings corroborate the emerging concept that numerous lineages of unrelated flagellate endosymbionts have convergently evolved to fill similar ecological niches. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.