Bacteria forming light-organ symbiosis with deep-sea chlorophthalmid fishes (Aulopiformes: Chlorophthalmidae) are considered to belong to the species Photobacterium phosphoreum. The identification of these bacteria as P. phosphoreum, however, was based exclusively on phenotypic traits, which may not discriminate between phenetically similar but evolutionarily distinct luminous bacteria. Therefore, to test the species identification of chlorophthalmid symbionts, we carried out a genomotypic (repetitive element palindromic PCR genomic profiling) and phylogenetic analysis on strains isolated from the perirectal light organ of Chlorophthalmus albatrossis. Sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene of 10 strains from 5 fish specimens placed these bacteria in a cluster related to but phylogenetically distinct from the type strain of P. phosphoreum, ATCC 11040(T), and the type strain of Photobacterium iliopiscarium, ATCC 51760(T). Analysis of gyrB resolved the C. albatrossis strains as a strongly supported clade distinct from P. phosphoreum and P. iliopiscarium. Genomic profiling of 109 strains from the 5 C. albatrossis specimens revealed a high level of similarity among strains but allowed identification of genomotypically different types from each fish. Representatives of each type were then analyzed phylogenetically, using sequence of the luxABFE genes. As with gyrB, analysis of luxABFE resolved the C. albatrossis strains as a robustly supported clade distinct from P. phosphoreum. Furthermore, other strains of luminous bacteria reported as P. phosphoreum, i.e., NCIMB 844, from the skin of Merluccius capensis (Merlucciidae), NZ-11D, from the light organ of Nezumia aequalis (Macrouridae), and pjapo.1.1, from the light organ of Physiculus japonicus (Moridae), grouped phylogenetically by gyrB and luxABFE with the C. albatrossis strains, not with ATCC 11040(T). These results demonstrate that luminous bacteria symbiotic with C. albatrossis, together with certain other strains of luminous bacteria, form a clade, designated the kishitanii clade, that is related to but evolutionarily distinct from P. phosphoreum. Members of the kishitanii clade may constitute the major or sole bioluminescent symbiont of several families of deep-sea luminous fishes.
2005. Vol. 71, no 2, 930-9 p.