Genomic characterization of a novel, widely distributed Mycoplasma species “Candidatus Mycoplasma mahonii” associated with the brittlestar Gorgonocephalus chilensis

Aroh et al. (2023). PLOS ONE 18 (8)
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Symbiotic relationships are ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans, yet for many marine organisms, including those in the high latitudes, little is understood about symbiotic associations and functional relationships. From a recently determined genome sequence of a filter-feeding basket star from Argentina, Gorgonocephalus chilensis, we discovered a novel Mycoplasma species with a 796Kb genome (CheckM completeness of 97.9%, G+C content = 30.1%). Similar to other Mycoplasma spp. within Mycoplasmatota, genomic analysis of the novel organism revealed reduced metabolic pathways including incomplete biosynthetic pathways, suggesting an obligate association with their basket star host. Results of 16S rRNA and multi-locus phylogenetic analyses revealed that this organism belonged to a recently characterized non-free-living lineage of Mycoplasma spp. specifically associated with marine invertebrate animals. Thus, the name “Candidatus Mycoplasma mahonii” is proposed for this novel species. Based on 16S rRNA PCR-screening, we found that Ca. M. mahonii also occurs in Gorgonocephalus eucnemis from the Northwest Pacific and other Gorgonocephalus chilensis from Argentinian waters. The level of sequence conservation within Ca. M. mahonii is considerable between widely disparate high-latitude Gorgonocephalus species, suggesting that oceanic dispersal of this microbe may be greater than excepted.
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