Deep-sea anglerfishes are relatively abundant and diverse, but their luminescent bacterial symbionts remain enigmatic. The genomes of two symbiont species have qualities common to vertically transmitted, host-dependent bacteria. However, a number of traits suggest that these symbionts may be environmentally acquired. To determine how anglerfish symbionts are transmitted, we analyzed bacteria-host codivergence across six diverse anglerfish genera. Most of the anglerfish species surveyed shared a common species of symbiont. Only one other symbiont species was found, which had a specific relationship with one anglerfish species, Cryptopsaras couesii. Host and symbiont phylogenies lacked congruence, and there was no statistical support for codivergence broadly. We also recovered symbiont-specific gene sequences from water collected near hosts, suggesting environmental persistence of symbionts. Based on these results we conclude that diverse anglerfishes share symbionts that are acquired from the environment, and that these bacteria have undergone extreme genome reduction although they are not vertically transmitted.
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Baker, Lydia; Lindsay L. Freed; Cole Easson; Jose Lopez; Dante Fenolio; Tracey Sutton; Spencer Nyholm; and Tory Hendry. 2019. "Diverse deep-sea anglerfishes share a genetically reduced luminous symbiont that is acquired from the environment." eLife 2019, (8): e47606. doi:10.7554/eLife.47606.001.