BACKGROUND: Many deep-sea invertebrates largely depend on chemoautotrophic symbionts for energy and nutrition, and some of them have reduced functional digestive tracts. By contrast, deep-sea mussels have a complete digestive system although symbionts in their gills play vital roles in nutrient supply. This digestive system remains functional and can utilise available resources, but the roles and associations among gut microbiomes in these mussels remain unknown. Specifically, how the gut microbiome reacts to environmental change is unclear.
RESULTS: The meta-pathway analysis showed the nutritional and metabolic roles of the deep-sea mussel gut microbiome. Comparative analyses of the gut microbiomes of original and transplanted mussels subjected to environmental change revealed shifts in bacterial communities. Gammaproteobacteria were enriched, whereas Bacteroidetes were slightly depleted. The functional response for the shifted communities was attributed to the acquisition of carbon sources and adjusting the utilisation of ammonia and sulphide. Self-protection was observed after transplantation.
CONCLUSION: This study provides the first metagenomic insights into the community structure and function of the gut microbiome in deep-sea chemosymbiotic mussels and their critical mechanisms for adapting to changing environments and meeting of essential nutrient demand.