Chemosynthetic symbionts can fix atmospheric nitrogen

News   •   October 24, 2016

In a study published today (24/10/16), Jillian Petersen, my colleagues and I show that sulfur-oxidizing autotrophic symbionts of marine clams and nematodes are capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen (see Petersen et al., 2016). Strikingly, in a parallel study, another group also found out that the same capability is present in the symbionts of a different but closely related species of lucinid clams (see König et al., 2016). The two studies were published back to back in Nature Microbiology.

This discovery is remarkable for a number of reasons. At the very least, these studies show how omics is beginning to reveal the remarkable metabolic ‘talents’ of chemosynthetic symbioses, which go far beyond sulfur oxidation and carbon fixation.

If you want to know more about this topic and the stories behind the papers, you can also read the blog posts that were published in the Nature Microbiology Community to describe and disseminate the results of our study (see here), and of the parallel study from the Markert lab (see here).

Also, you can see the Division of Microbial Ecology website for links to the press release of the University of Vienna, etc.