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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-02-06
    Description: Benthic foraminifera are unicellular eukaryotes inhabiting sediments of aquatic environments. Several species were shown to store and use nitrate for complete denitrification, a unique energy metabolism among eukaryotes. The population of benthic foraminifera reaches high densities in oxygen-depleted marine habitats, where they play a key role in the marine nitrogen cycle. However, the mechanisms of denitrification in foraminifera are still unknown, and the possibility of a contribution of associated bacteria is debated. Here, we present evidence for a novel eukaryotic denitrification pathway that is encoded in foraminiferal genomes. Large-scale genome and transcriptomes analyses reveal the presence of a denitrification pathway in foraminifera species of the genus Globobulimina. This includes the enzymes nitrite reductase (NirK) and nitric oxide reductase (Nor) as well as a wide range of nitrate transporters (Nrt). A phylogenetic reconstruction of the enzymes' evolutionary history uncovers evidence for an ancient acquisition of the foraminiferal denitrification pathway from prokaryotes. We propose a model for denitrification in foraminifera, where a common electron transport chain is used for anaerobic and aerobic respiration. The evolution of hybrid respiration in foraminifera likely contributed to their ecological success, which is well documented in palaeontological records since the Cambrian period.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
    Format: text
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