Ecological specificity of the metagenome in a set of lower termite species supports contribution of the microbiome to adaptation of the host
KAUST DepartmentBiological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE) Division
Marine Science Program
Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/10754/631043
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AbstractElucidating the interplay between hosts and their microbiomes in ecological adaptation has become a central theme in evolutionary biology. The microbiome mediated adaptation of lower termites to a wood-based diet. Lower termites have further adapted to different ecologies. Substantial ecological differences are linked to different termite life types. Termites of the wood-dwelling life type never leave their nests and feed on a uniform diet. Termites of the foraging life type forage for food outside the nest, access a more diverse diet, and grow faster. Here we reasoned that the microbiome that is directly involved in food substrate breakdown and nutrient acquisition might contribute to adaptation to these ecological differences. This should leave ecological imprints on the microbiome. To search for such imprints, we applied metagenomic shotgun sequencing in a multispecies framework covering both life types. The microbiome of foraging species was enriched with genes for starch digestion, while the metagenome of wood-dwelling species was enriched with genes for hemicellulose utilization. Furthermore, increased abundance of genes for nitrogen sequestration, a limiting factor for termite growth, aligned with faster growth. These findings are consistent with the notion that a specific subset of functions encoded by the microbiome contributes to host adaptation.
CitationWaidele L, Korb J, Voolstra CR, Dedeine F, Staubach F (2019) Ecological specificity of the metagenome in a set of lower termite species supports contribution of the microbiome to adaptation of the host. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/526038.
SponsorsWe thank Jan Sobotnik for kindly providing P. simplex colonies, as well as Charles Darwin University (Australia), especially S. Garnett and the Horticulture and Aquaculture team for providing logistic support to collect C. secundus. The Parks and Wildlife Comission, Northern Territory, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts gave permission to collect (Permit number 59044) and export (Permit PWS2016-AU-001559) the termites. This work was funded by DFG grants STA1154/2-1 and KO1895/16-1. We thank Craig Michell and the KAUST Bioscience Core Lab for sequence library generation and sequencing. This study was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the High Performance and Cloud Computing Group at the Zentrum fuer Datenverarbeitung of the University of Tuebingen, the state of BadenWuerttemberg through bwHPC and the German Research Foundation (DFG) through grant no INST 37/935-1 FUGG. We thank Karen Meusemann and the 1KITE consortium, in particular the 1KITE Blattodea group, Alexander Donath, Lars Podsiadlowski, Bernhard Misof, Xin Zhou for granting access of the transcriptome data of R. santonsensis syn. R. flavipes.
PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory