Bacterial symbiosis as an adaptation to extreme environments in annelid worms
In this project, we will exploit the independent origins of symbiosis in annelids to identify ancestral and convergent genomic traits associated with the evolution of bacterial chemosymbiosis
Jose M. (Chema) Martín-Durán, Queen Mary University of London
The “Annelid Chemosymbioses” Hub is exploring how bacterial symbioses repeatedly allowed aquatic annelid worms to colonise some of the most extreme environments on the planet, including hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, and whale and wood falls, where symbiotic annelids, such as the giant tubeworm Riftia pachyptila and the zombie worm Osedax, play a central ecological role. In this project, we will exploit the independent origins of symbiosis in annelids to identify ancestral and convergent genomic traits associated with the evolution of bacterial chemosymbiosis.
With the support of the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, we will sequence 50 annelid species belonging to 12 different clades spanning the entire annelid tree of life, and all their symbionts. International and interdisciplinary, the “Annelid Chemosymbioses” Hub brings together world-leading experts in annelid biology, evolutionary biology and computational biology to provide an unprecedented understanding of how some of the most fascinating and iconic cases of synergistic interactions between bacteria and animals came into existence.