Genomic insights into the Agromyces-like symbiont of earthworms and its distribution among host species

Marie B. Lund, Mathias F. Mogensen, Ian P.G. Marshall, Mads Albertsen, Flavia Viana, Andreas Schramm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The nephridia (excretory organs) of lumbricid earthworms generally harbor symbiotic bacteria. In the compost worms Eisenia fetida and E. andrei, these comprise Verminephrobacter, Ca. Nephrothrix and an Agromyces-like symbiont. While diversity, transmission, and function of the first two symbionts has been unraveled in recent years, little is known about the biology of the uncultured Agromyces-like symbiont or about its distribution within lumbricid earthworms.

In this study, we sequenced a cocoon metagenome of E. andrei and assembled a 96.3% complete genome of the Agromyces-like symbiont, which indicates a heterotrophic and potentially microaerophilic lifestyle. A 16S rRNA gene based survey showed that the Agromyces-like symbiont has a narrow host range (present in 10 out of 51 investigated lumbricid earthworm species) and is likely species-specific or at least specific for groups of closely related host species. The Agromyces-like symbionts form a monophyletic group and feature a reduced genome with AT-bias and very low genome-wide similarity to closely related Agromyces spp. (average amino acid identity of 64%); therefore, we suggest establishing a novel genus for the Agromyces-like symbionts of earthworms, for which we propose the name Candidatus Lumbricidophila, with the specific symbiont of Eisenia andrei as novel species Ca. L. eiseniae.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfiy068
Number of pages8
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number6
Early online date12 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


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