Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequences were used to establish the phylogenetic affiliations of symbioses in which prokaryotes appear to confer sulfur-based chemoautotrophy on their invertebrate hosts. Two submarine hydrothermal vent animals, the vestimentiferan tube worm Riftia pachyptila and the clam Calyptogena magnifica, and a tidal-flat bivalve, Solemya velum, were inspected. 5S rRNA's were extracted from symbiont-bearing tissues, separated into unique forms, and their nucleotide sequences determined and related to other 5S rRNA's in a phylogenetic tree analysis. The prokaryotic symbionts are related to one another and affiliated with the same narrow phylogenetic grouping as Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The sequence comparisons suggest that Riftia is more closely related to the bivalves than their current taxonomic status would suggest.
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