Ultrastructure of ellipsoidal magnetotactic multicellular prokaryotes depicts their complex assemblage and cellular polarity in the context of magnetotaxis

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SummaryMagnetotactic multicellular prokaryotes (MMPs) consist of unique microorganisms formed by genetically identical Gram-negative bacterial that live as a single individual capable of producing magnetic nano-particles called magnetosomes. Two distinct morphotypes of MMPs are known: spherical MMPs (sMMPs) and ellipsoidal MMPs (eMMPs). sMMPs have been extensively characterized, but less information exists for eMMPs. Here, we report the ultrastructure and organization as well as gene clusters responsible for magnetosome and flagella biosynthesis in the magnetite magnetosome producer eMMPCandidatusMagnetananas rongchenensis. Transmission electron microscopy and focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) 3D reconstruction reveal that cells with a conspicuous core-periphery polarity were organized around a central space. Magnetosomes were organized in multiple chains aligned along the periphery of each cell. In the partially sequenced genome, magnetite-relatedmamABgene andmadgene clusters were identified. Two cell morphologies were detected: irregular elliptical conical ‘frustum-like’ (IECF) cells and H-shaped cells. IECF cells merge to form H-shaped cells indicating a more complex structure and possibly a distinct evolutionary position of eMMPs when compared with sMMPs considering multicellularity.

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