Highly heterogeneous bacterial communities associated with the South China Sea reef corals Porites lutea, Galaxea fascicularis and Acropora millepora.
ABSTRACT: Coral harbor diverse and specific bacteria play significant roles in coral holobiont function. Bacteria associated with three of the common and phylogenetically divergent reef-building corals in the South China Sea, Porites lutea, Galaxea fascicularis and Acropora millepora, were investigated using 454 barcoded-pyrosequencing. Three colonies of each species were sampled, and 16S rRNA gene libraries were constructed individually. Analysis of pyrosequencing libraries showed that bacterial communities associated with the three coral species were more diverse than previous estimates based on corals from the Caribbean Sea, Indo-Pacific reefs and the Red Sea. Three candidate phyla, including BRC1, OD1 and SR1, were found for the first time in corals. Bacterial communities were separated into three groups: P. lutea and G. fascicular, A. millepora and seawater. P. lutea and G. fascicular displayed more similar bacterial communities, and bacterial communities associated with A. millepora differed from the other two coral species. The three coral species shared only 22 OTUs, which were distributed in Alphaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Chloroflexi, Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria and an unclassified bacterial group. The composition of bacterial communities within each colony of each coral species also showed variation. The relatively small common and large specific bacterial communities in these corals implies that bacterial associations may be structured by multiple factors at different scales and that corals may associate with microbes in terms of similar function, rather than identical species.
Project description:The complex symbiotic relationship between corals and their dinoflagellate partner Symbiodinium is believed to be sustained through close associations with mutualistic bacterial communities, though little is known about coral associations with bacterial groups able to fix nitrogen (diazotrophs). In this study, we investigated the diversity of diazotrophic bacterial communities associated with three common coral species (Acropora millepora, Acropora muricata, and Pocillopora damicormis) from three midshelf locations of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) by profiling the conserved subunit of the nifH gene, which encodes the dinitrogenase iron protein. Comparisons of diazotrophic community diversity among coral tissue and mucus microenvironments and the surrounding seawater revealed that corals harbor diverse nifH phylotypes that differ between tissue and mucus microhabitats. Coral mucus nifH sequences displayed high heterogeneity, and many bacterial groups overlapped with those found in seawater. Moreover, coral mucus diazotrophs were specific neither to coral species nor to reef location, reflecting the ephemeral nature of coral mucus. In contrast, the dominant diazotrophic bacteria in tissue samples differed among coral species, with differences remaining consistent at all three reefs, indicating that coral-diazotroph associations are species specific. Notably, dominant diazotrophs for all coral species were closely related to the bacterial group rhizobia, which represented 71% of the total sequences retrieved from tissue samples. The species specificity of coral-diazotroph associations further supports the coral holobiont model that bacterial groups associated with corals are conserved. Our results suggest that, as in terrestrial plants, rhizobia have developed a mutualistic relationship with corals and may contribute fixed nitrogen to Symbiodinium.
Project description:Microbial associations with corals are common and are most likely symbiotic, although their diversity and relationships with environmental factors and host species remain unclear. In this study, we adopted a 16S rRNA gene tag-pyrosequencing technique to investigate the bacterial communities associated with three stony Scleractinea and two soft Octocorallia corals from three locations in the Red Sea. Our results revealed highly diverse bacterial communities in the Red Sea corals, with more than 600 ribotypes detected and up to 1,000 species estimated from a single coral species. Altogether, 21 bacterial phyla were recovered from the corals, of which Gammaproteobacteria was the most dominant group, and Chloroflexi, Chlamydiae, and the candidate phylum WS3 were reported in corals for the first time. The associated bacterial communities varied greatly with location, where environmental conditions differed significantly. Corals from disturbed areas appeared to share more similar bacterial communities, but larger variations in community structures were observed between different coral species from pristine waters. Ordination methods identified salinity and depth as the most influential parameters affecting the abundance of Vibrio, Pseudoalteromonas, Serratia, Stenotrophomonas, Pseudomonas, and Achromobacter in the corals. On the other hand, bacteria such as Chloracidobacterium and Endozoicomonas were more sensitive to the coral species, suggesting that the host species type may be influential in the associated bacterial community, as well. The combined influences of the coral host and environmental factors on the associated microbial communities are discussed. This study represents the first comparative study using tag-pyrosequencing technology to investigate the bacterial communities in Red Sea corals.
Project description:The coral holobiont often resides in oligotrophic waters; both coral cells and their symbiotic dinoflagellates possess ammonium assimilation enzymes and potentially benefit from the nitrogen fixation of coral-associated diazotrophs. However, the seasonal dynamics of coral-associated diazotrophs are not well characterized. Here, the seasonal variations of diazotrophic communities associated with three corals, Galaxea astreata, Pavona decussata, and Porites lutea, were studied using nifH gene amplicon pyrosequencing techniques. Our results revealed a great diversity of coral-associated diazotrophs. nifH sequences related to Alphaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria were ubiquitous and dominant in all corals in two seasons. In contrast with the coral P. decussata, both G. astreata and P. lutea showed significant seasonal changes in the diazotrophic communities and nifH gene abundance. Variable diazotroph groups accounted for a range from 11 to 49% within individual coral samples. Most of the variable diazotrophic groups from P. decussata were species-specific, however, the majority of overlapping variable groups in G. astreata and P. lutea showed the same seasonal variation characteristics. Rhodopseudomonas palustris- and Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus-affiliated sequences were relatively abundant in the summer, whereas a nifH sequence related to Halorhodospira halophila was relatively abundant in spring G. astreata and P. lutea. The seasonal variations of all diazotrophic communities were significantly correlated with the seasonal shifts of ammonium and nitrate, suggesting that diazotrophs play an important role in the nitrogen cycle of the coral holobiont.
Project description:Coral reefs are threatened throughout the world. A major factor contributing to their decline is outbreaks and propagation of coral diseases. Due to the complexity of coral-associated microbe communities, little is understood in terms of disease agents, hosts and vectors. It is known that compromised health in corals is correlated with shifts in bacterial assemblages colonizing coral mucus and tissue. However, general disease patterns remain, to a large extent, ambiguous as comparative studies over species, regions, or diseases are scarce. Here, we compare bacterial assemblages of samples from healthy (HH) colonies and such displaying signs of White Plague Disease (WPD) of two different coral species (Pavona duerdeni and Porites lutea) from the same reef in Koh Tao, Thailand, using 16S rRNA gene microarrays. In line with other studies, we found an increase of bacterial diversity in diseased (DD) corals, and a higher abundance of taxa from the families that include known coral pathogens (Alteromonadaceae, Rhodobacteraceae, Vibrionaceae). In our comparative framework analysis, we found differences in microbial assemblages between coral species and coral health states. Notably, patterns of bacterial community structures from HH and DD corals were maintained over species boundaries. Moreover, microbes that differentiated the two coral species did not overlap with microbes that were indicative of HH and DD corals. This suggests that while corals harbor distinct species-specific microbial assemblages, disease-specific bacterial abundance patterns exist that are maintained over coral species boundaries.
Project description:Marine bacteria play a central role in the degradation of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) to dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and acrylic acid, DMS being critical to cloud formation and thereby cooling effects on the climate. High concentrations of DMSP and DMS have been reported in scleractinian coral tissues although, to date, there have been no investigations into the influence of these organic sulfur compounds on coral-associated bacteria. Two coral species, Montipora aequituberculata and Acropora millepora, were sampled and their bacterial communities were characterized by both culture-dependent and molecular techniques. Four genera, Roseobacter, Spongiobacter, Vibrio, and Alteromonas, which were isolated on media with either DMSP or DMS as the sole carbon source, comprised the majority of clones retrieved from coral mucus and tissue 16S rRNA gene clone libraries. Clones affiliated with Roseobacter sp. constituted 28% of the M. aequituberculata tissue libraries, while 59% of the clones from the A. millepora libraries were affiliated with sequences related to the Spongiobacter genus. Vibrio spp. were commonly isolated from DMS and acrylic acid enrichments and were also present in 16S rRNA gene libraries from coral mucus, suggesting that under "normal" environmental conditions, they are a natural component of coral-associated communities. Genes homologous to dddD, and dddL, previously implicated in DMSP degradation, were also characterized from isolated strains, confirming that bacteria associated with corals have the potential to metabolize this sulfur compound when present in coral tissues. Our results demonstrate that DMSP, DMS, and acrylic acid potentially act as nutrient sources for coral-associated bacteria and that these sulfur compounds are likely to play a role in structuring bacterial communities in corals, with important consequences for the health of both corals and coral reef ecosystems.
Project description:Investigation of the response of coral microbial communities to seasonal ecological environment at the microscale will advance our understanding of the relationship between coral-associated bacteria community and coral health. In this study, we examined bacteria community composition from mucus, tissue and skeleton of Porites lutea and surrounding seawater every three months for 1 year on Luhuitou fringing reef. The bacterial communities were analyzed using pyrosequencing of the V1-V2 region of the 16S rRNA gene, which demonstrated diverse bacterial consortium profiles in corals. The bacterial communities in all three coral compartments studied were significantly different from the surrounding seawater. Moreover, they had a much more dynamic seasonal response compared to the seawater communities. The bacterial communities in all three coral compartments collected in each seasonal sample tended to cluster together. Analysis of the relationship between bacterial assemblages and the environmental parameters showed that the bacterial community correlated to dissolved oxygen and rainfall significantly at our study site. This study highlights a dynamic relationship between the high complexity of coral associated bacterial community and seasonally varying ecosystem parameters.
Project description:Corals and their associated fauna are extremely diverse in tropical waters and form major reefs. In the high-latitude temperate zone, corals living near their distribution limit are considered marginal communities because they are particularly extremely sensitive to environmental and climatic changes. In this study, we examined the diversity and host usage of coral-associated barnacles on Jeju Island, Korea, the northern coral distribution limit in the East China Sea. In this study, only three coral-associated barnacles-from two genera in two subfamilies-were collected. The Pyrgomatinid barnacles Cantellius arcuatus and Cantellius cf. euspinulosum were found only on the corals Montipora millepora and Alveopora japonica, respectively. The Megatrematinid barnacle Pyrgomina oulastreae, relatively a generalist, was found on Psammocora spp. (both profundacella and albopicta) and Oulastrea crispata corals. The host usage of these three barnacles does not overlap. DNA barcode sequences of the C. arcuatus specimens collected in the present study matched those collected in Kochi in Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, suggesting that this species has a wide geographical distribution. C. arcuatus covers a wider host range in Taiwan waters, inhabiting Montipora spp. and Porites spp., which suggests that the host specificity of coral-associated barnacles varies with host availability. C. cf. euspinulosum probably has a very narrow distribution and host usage. The sequences of C. cf. euspinulosum on Jeju Island do not match those of any known sequences of Cantellius barnacles in the Indo-Pacific region. P. oulastreae probably prefers cold water because it has been reported in temperate regions. Coral-associated barnacles in marginal communities have considerably lower diversity than their subtropical and tropical counterparts. When host availability is limited, marginal coral-associated barnacles exhibit higher host specificity than those in subtropical and tropical reef systems.
Project description:Microbes associated with deep-sea corals remain poorly studied. The lack of symbiotic algae suggests that associated microbes may play a fundamental role in maintaining a viable coral host via acquisition and recycling of nutrients. Here we employed 16?S rRNA gene sequencing to study bacterial communities of three deep-sea scleractinian corals from the Red Sea, Dendrophyllia sp., Eguchipsammia fistula, and Rhizotrochus typus. We found diverse, species-specific microbiomes, distinct from the surrounding seawater. Microbiomes were comprised of few abundant bacteria, which constituted the majority of sequences (up to 58% depending on the coral species). In addition, we found a high diversity of rare bacteria (taxa at <1% abundance comprised >90% of all bacteria). Interestingly, we identified anaerobic bacteria, potentially providing metabolic functions at low oxygen conditions, as well as bacteria harboring the potential to degrade crude oil components. Considering the presence of oil and gas fields in the Red Sea, these bacteria may unlock this carbon source for the coral host. In conclusion, the prevailing environmental conditions of the deep Red Sea (>20?°C, <2?mg oxygen L-1) may require distinct functional adaptations, and our data suggest that bacterial communities may contribute to coral functioning in this challenging environment.
Project description:Coral-associated microorganisms play an important role in their host fitness and survival. A number of studies have demonstrated connections between thermal tolerance in corals and the type/relative abundance of Symbiodinium they harbor. More recently, the shifts in coral-associated bacterial profiles were also shown to be linked to the patterns of coral heat tolerance. Here, we investigated the dynamics of Porites lutea-associated bacterial and algal communities throughout a natural bleaching event, using full-length 16S rRNA and internal transcribed spacer sequences (ITS) obtained from PacBio circular consensus sequencing. We provided evidence of significant changes in the structure and diversity of coral-associated microbiomes during thermal stress. The balance of the symbiosis shifted from a predominant association between corals and Gammaproteobacteria to a predominance of Alphaproteobacteria and to a lesser extent Betaproteobacteria following the bleaching event. On the contrary, the composition and diversity of Symbiodinium communities remained unaltered throughout the bleaching event. It appears that the switching and/or shuffling of Symbiodinium types may not be the primary mechanism used by P. lutea to cope with increasing seawater temperature. The shifts in the structure and diversity of associated bacterial communities may contribute more to the survival of the coral holobiont under heat stress.
Project description:Repeat marine heat wave-induced mass coral bleaching has decimated reefs in Seychelles for 35 years, but how coral-associated microbial diversity (microalgal endosymbionts of the family Symbiodiniaceae and bacterial communities) potentially underpins broad-scale bleaching dynamics remains unknown. We assessed microbiome composition during the 2016 heat wave peak at two contrasting reef sites (clear vs. turbid) in Seychelles, for key coral species considered bleaching sensitive (Acropora muricata, Acropora gemmifera) or tolerant (Porites lutea, Coelastrea aspera). For all species and sites, we sampled bleached versus unbleached colonies to examine how microbiomes align with heat stress susceptibility. Over 30% of all corals bleached in 2016, half of which were from Acropora sp. and Pocillopora sp. mass bleaching that largely transitioned to mortality by 2017. Symbiodiniaceae ITS2-sequencing revealed that the two Acropora sp. and P. lutea generally associated with C3z/C3 and C15 types, respectively, whereas C. aspera exhibited a plastic association with multiple D types and two C3z types. 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that bacterial communities were coral host-specific, largely through differences in the most abundant families, Hahellaceae (comprising Endozoicomonas), Rhodospirillaceae, and Rhodobacteraceae. Both Acropora sp. exhibited lower bacterial diversity, species richness, and community evenness compared to more bleaching-resistant P. lutea and C. aspera. Different bleaching susceptibility among coral species was thus consistent with distinct microbiome community profiles. These profiles were conserved across bleached and unbleached colonies of all coral species. As this pattern could also reflect a parallel response of the microbiome to environmental changes, the detailed functional associations will need to be determined in future studies. Further understanding such microbiome-environmental interactions is likely critical to target more effective management within oceanically isolated reefs of Seychelles.