Novel bacterial lineages associated with boreal moss species

Published by Stephanie Mayer on

Mosses are critical components of boreal ecosystems where they typically account for a large proportion of net primary productivity and harbour diverse bacterial communities that can be the major source of biologically-fixed nitrogen in these ecosystems. Despite their ecological importance, we have limited understanding of how microbial communities vary across boreal moss species and the extent to which local site conditions may influence the composition of these bacterial communities. We used marker gene sequencing to analyze bacterial communities associated with seven boreal moss species collected near Fairbanks, AK, USA. We found that host identity was more important than site in determining bacterial community composition and that mosses harbour diverse lineages of potential N2-fixers as well as an abundance of novel taxa assigned to understudied bacterial phyla (including candidate phylum WPS-2). We performed shotgun metagenomic sequencing to assemble genomes from the WPS-2 candidate phylum and found that these moss-associated bacteria are likely anoxygenic phototrophs capable of carbon fixation via RuBisCo with an ability to utilize byproducts of photorespiration from hosts via a glyoxylate shunt. These results give new insights into the metabolic capabilities of understudied bacterial lineages that associate with mosses and the importance of plant hosts in shaping their microbiomes.