Evolution and Maintenance of Mutualism between Tubeworms and Sulfur-Oxidizing Bacteria

Sato, M. & Sasaki, A. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3582-5865 (2021). Evolution and Maintenance of Mutualism between Tubeworms and Sulfur-Oxidizing Bacteria. The American Naturalist 197 (3) 351-365. 10.1086/712780.

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Tubeworms and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria mutualism, an essential part of the chemosynthetic ecosystem in the deep sea, has several puzzling features. After acquiring sulfur-oxidizing bacteria from the environment, tubeworms become fully dependent on their symbiont bacteria for nutrient intake. Once ingested by the tubeworm larva, no additional symbionts join from the environment, and no symbionts are released until the host tubeworm dies. Despite this very narrow window to acquire symbionts, some tubeworm species can live for >200 years. Such a restricted release of symbionts could lead to a shortage of symbiont bacteria in the environment without which tubeworms could not survive. In our study, we examine the conditions under which this mutualism can persist and whether the host mortality rate evolves toward a low value using a mathematical model for the tubeworm–symbiont bacteria system. Our model reveals that mutualism can persist only when the host mortality rate is within an intermediate range. With cohabitation of multiple symbionts strains in the same host, host mortality rate evolves toward a low value without driving either host or symbiont to extinction when competition among symbionts is weak and their growth within a host is slow. We also find the parameter conditions that lead to unlimited evolutionary escalation of host mortality rate toward coextinction of both tubeworms and symbionts populations (evolutionary double suicide). The generality of this evolutionary fragility in obligate mutualistic systems as well as the contrasting evolutionary robustness in host-parasite systems are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Evolution and Ecology (EEP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2022 13:56
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2022 13:56
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/17926

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