Data from: Niphargus–Thiothrix associations may be widespread in sulphidic groundwater ecosystems: evidence from southeastern Romania
Flot, Jean-François et al. (2013), Data from: Niphargus–Thiothrix associations may be widespread in sulphidic groundwater ecosystems: evidence from southeastern Romania, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.qm636
Niphargus is a speciose amphipod genus found in groundwater habitats across Europe. Three Niphargus species living in the sulphidic Frasassi caves in Italy harbour sulphur-oxidizing Thiothrix bacterial ectosymbionts. These three species are distantly related, implying that the ability to form ectosymbioses with Thiothrix may be common among Niphargus. Therefore, Niphargus–Thiothrix associations may also be found in sulphidic aquifers other than Frasassi. In this study, we examined this possibility by analysing niphargids of the genera Niphargus and Pontoniphargus collected from the partly sulphidic aquifers of the Southern Dobrogea region of Romania, which are accessible through springs, wells and Movile Cave. Molecular and morphological analyses revealed seven niphargid species in this region. Five of these species occurred occasionally or exclusively in sulphidic locations, whereas the remaining two were restricted to nonsulphidic areas. Thiothrix were detected by PCR on all seven Dobrogean niphargid species and observed using microscopy to be predominantly attached to their hosts' appendages. 16S rRNA gene sequences of the Thiothrix epibionts fell into two main clades, one of which (herein named T4) occurred solely on niphargids collected in sulphidic locations. The other Thiothrix clade was present on niphargids from both sulphidic and nonsulphidic areas and indistinguishable from the T3 ectosymbiont clade previously identified on Frasassi-dwelling Niphargus. Although niphargids from Frasassi and Southern Dobrogea are not closely related, the patterns of their association with Thiothrix are remarkably alike. The finding of similar Niphargus–Thiothrix associations in aquifers located 1200 km apart suggests that they may be widespread in European groundwater ecosystems.