Chemoautotrophic symbionts in the gills of the bivalve mollusc Lucinoma borealis and the sediment chemistry of its habitat.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 5.29). 03/1986; 227(1247):227-247. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1986.0021

ABSTRACT Lucinoma borealis has enlarged gills, which contain numerous prokaryotes in specialized cells (bacteriocytes) in the subfilamentar region. The gills also contain high concentrations of elemental sulphur and of a c-type cytochrome. Homogenates of gill tissue show ribulosebisphosphate carboxylase and phosphoribulokinase activity; they also show activity for adenylylsulphate reductase, an enzyme concerned in the oxidation of sulphur, and will phosphorylate ADP on the addition of sulphite or sulphide. Fixation of bicarbonate by gill tissue from starved animals is enhanced in the presence of 100 µM sulphide. The sediment in which the animals live contains 1-6 $\mu $g atoms per litre of dissolved iron and hence there is very little dissolved sulphide, 200 nM, or less (80 nmol dm-3 sediment). Thiosulphate concentrations are also low, 300 nM, or less (120 nmol dm-3 sediment). In contrast, there are acid-labile sulphide concentrations up to 14 mmol dm-3 and elemental sulphur concentrations up to 4 mg atom per cubic decimetre of sediment. The mean sulphate reduction rate in the sediment varied seasonally with temperature over the range 1640-4920 nmol sulphate reduced per hour per cubic decimetre. L. borealis was usually found below the region of maximum sulphate reduction. Hydrogen, methane and carbon monoxide concentrations were all 160 nmol dm-3, or less. Despite the low levels of dissolved sulphide the association between prokaryote and host appears to be able to exploit this habitat by the oxidation of reduced sulphur species; ways in which the bivalve may be able to extract these from the sediment are discussed. The bivalves may obtain half their carbon from the autotrophic prokaryotes.