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Summary

Bathymodiolus azoricus and Bathymodiolus puteoserpentis are symbiont-bearing mussels that dominate hydrothermal vent sites along the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR). Both species live in symbiosis with two physiologically and phylogenetically distinct Gammaproteobacteria: a sulfur-oxidizing chemoautotroph and a methane-oxidizer. A detailed analysis of mussels collected from four MAR vent sites (Menez Gwen, Lucky Strike, Rainbow, and Logatchev) using comparative 16S rRNA sequence analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) showed that the two mussel species share highly similar to identical symbiont phylotypes. FISH observations of symbiont distribution and relative abundances showed no obvious differences between the two host species. In contrast, distinct differences in relative symbiont abundances were observed between mussels from different sites, indicating that vent chemistry may influence the relative abundance of thiotrophs and methanotrophs in these dual symbioses.