Polyphosphate-accumulating bacterial community colonizing the calcium bodies of terrestrial isopod crustaceansTitanethes albusandHyloniscus riparius

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Terrestrial isopods from the group Trichoniscidae accumulate calcium in specialized organs, known as the calcium bodies. These consist of two pairs of epithelial sacs located alongside the digestive system. These organs contain various forms of calcium and constantly present bacteria. To elucidate their origin and role, we analyzed the bacteria of the calcium bodies in the cave-dwelling isopod Titanethes albus and the epigean species Hyloniscus riparius, by microscopy, histochemistry, energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry, 16S rRNA analysis and in situ hybridization. The calcium bodies of both species comprise numerous and diverse bacterial communities consisting of known soil bacteria. Despite their diversity, these bacteria share the polyphosphate-accumulation ability. We present the model of phosphorous dynamics in the calcium bodies during the molting cycle and potentially beneficial utilization of the symbiotic phosphate by the host in cyclic regeneration of the cuticle. Although not fully understood, this unique symbiosis represents the first evidence of polyphosphate-accumulating bacterial symbionts in the tissue of a terrestrial animal.

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