Phenotypic Comparability from Genotypic varialbility among physically structured microbial consortia
Integrative and Comparative Biology
Microbiomes represent the collective bacteria, archaea, protist, fungi, and virus communities living in or on individual organisms that are typically multicellular eukaryotes. Such consortia have become recognized as having significant impacts on the development, health, and disease status of their hosts. Since understanding the mechanistic connections between an individual’s genetic makeup and their complete set of traits (i.e., genome to phenome) requires consideration at different levels of biological organization, this should include interactions with, and the organization of, microbial consortia. To understand microbial consortia organization, we elucidated the genetic constituents among phenotypically similar (and hypothesized functionally-analogous) layers (i.e., top orange, second orange, pink, and green layers) in the unique laminated orange cyanobacterial–bacterial crusts endemic to Hawaii’s anchialine ecosystem. High-throughput amplicon sequencing of ribosomal RNA hypervariable regions (i.e., Bacteria-specific V6 and Eukarya-biased V9) revealed microbial richness increasing by crust layer depth, with samples of a given layer more similar to different layers from the same geographic site than to their phenotypically-analogous layer from different sites. Furthermore, samples from sites on the same island were more similar to each other, regardless of which layer they originated from, than to analogous layers from another island. However, cyanobacterial and algal taxa were abundant in all surface and bottom layers, with anaerobic and chemoautotrophic taxa concentrated in the middle two layers, suggesting crust oxygenation from both above and below. Thus, the arrangement of oxygenated vs. anoxygenated niches in these orange crusts is functionally distinct relative to other laminated cyanobacterial–bacterial communities examined to date, with convergent evolution due to similar environmental conditions a likely driver for these phenotypically comparable but genetically distinct microbial consortia.
Biological and Environmental Sciences
Hoffman, S. K., Seitz, K. W., Weese, D. A., & Santos, S. R. (2020). Phenotypic Comparability from Genotypic varialbility among physically structured microbial consortia. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 60(2), 288-303.