Project description:Deterioration of coral health and associated change in the coral holobiont's bacterial community are often a result of different environmental stressors acting synergistically. There is evidence that water flow is important for a coral's resistance to elevated seawater temperature, but there is no information on how water flow affects the coral-associated bacterial community under these conditions. In a laboratory cross-design experiment, Acropora muricata nubbins were subjected to interactive effects of seawater temperature (27?°C to 31?°C) and water flow (0.20?m s-1 and 0.03?m s-1). In an in situ experiment, water flow manipulation was conducted with three colonies of A. muricata during the winter and summer, by partially enclosing each colony in a clear plastic mesh box. 16S rRNA amplicon pyrosequencing showed an increase in the relative abundance of Flavobacteriales and Rhodobacterales in the laboratory experiment, and Vibrio spp. in the in situ experiment when corals were exposed to elevated temperature and slow water flow. In contrast, corals that were exposed to faster water flow under laboratory and in situ conditions had a stable bacterial community. These findings indicate that water flow plays an important role in the maintenance of specific coral-bacteria associations during times of elevated thermal 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.
Project description:Coral reefs are in alarming decline due to climate emergency, pollution and other man-made disturbances. The numerous ecosystem services derived from coral reefs are underpinned by the growth and physical complexity of reef-forming corals. Our knowledge of their fundamental biology is limited by available technology. We need a better understanding of larval settlement and development, skeletogenesis, interactions with pathogens and symbionts, and how this biology interacts with environmental factors such as light exposure, temperature, and ocean acidification. We here focus on a fast-growing key coloniser, Acropora muricata (Linnaeus, 1758). To enable dynamic imaging of this photosensitive organism at different scales, we developed light-sheet illumination for fluorescence microscopy of small coral colonies. Our approach reveals live polyps in previously unseen detail. An imaging range for Acropora muricata with no measurable photodamage is defined based upon polyp expansion, coral tissue reaction, and photobleaching. We quantify polyp retraction as a photosensitive behavioural response and show coral tissue rupture at higher irradiance with blue light. The simple and flexible technique enables non-invasive continuous dynamic imaging of highly photosensitive organisms with sizes between 1 mm3 and 5 cm3, for eight hours, at high temporal resolution, on a scale from multiple polyps down to cellular resolution. This live imaging tool opens a new window into the dynamics of reef-building corals.
Project description:Global climate change has resulted in the decline of health and condition of various coral reefs worldwide. Here, we describe expression profiles of Acropora muricata collected during opposing seasons in Otsuki, Kochi, Japan to define the capacity of corals to cope with changing environmental conditions. Coral communities in Otsuki experience large temperature fluctuations between the winter (~ 16 °C) and summer (~ 27 °C).Coral nubbins that were collected in the summer showed no change in photochemical efficiency when exposed to thermal or cold stress, while winter samples showed a decrease in photochemical health when subjected to thermal stress. Under cold stress, corals that were collected in the summer showed an up-regulation of actin-related protein and serine/threonine protein kinase, while corals collected during the winter did not show any cellular stress. On the other hand, under thermal stress, the most notable change was the up-regulation of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase in corals that were collected during the winter season. Our observations in the differential genes expressed under temperature-derived stress suggest that A. muricata from Kochi may maintain physiological resilience due to the frequently encountered environmental stress, and this may play a role in the coral's thermal tolerance.
Project description:The coral microbiome is known to fluctuate in response to environmental variation and has been suggested to vary seasonally. However, most studies to date, particularly studies on bacterial communities, have examined temporal variation over a time frame of less than 1 year, which is insufficient to establish if microbiome variations are indeed seasonal in nature. The present study focused on expanding our understanding of long-term variability in microbial community composition using two common coral species, Acropora hyacinthus, and Acropora spathulata, at two mid-shelf reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. By sampling over a 2-year time period, this study aimed to determine whether temporal variations reflect seasonal cycles. Community composition of both bacteria and Symbiodiniaceae was characterized through 16S rRNA gene and ITS2 rDNA metabarcoding. We observed significant variations in community composition of both bacteria and Symbiodiniaceae among time points for A. hyacinthus and A. spathulata. However, there was no evidence to suggest that temporal variations were cyclical in nature and represented seasonal variation. Clear evidence for differences in the microbial communities found between reefs suggests that reef location and coral species play a larger role than season in driving microbial community composition in corals. In order to identify the basis of temporal patterns in coral microbial community composition, future studies should employ longer time series of sampling at sufficient temporal resolution to identify the environmental correlates of microbiome variation.
Project description:In recent decades coral gardening has become increasingly popular to restore degraded reef ecosystems. However, the growth and survivorship of nursery-reared outplanted corals are highly variable. Scientists are trying to identify genotypes that show signs of disease resistance and leverage these genotypes in restoring more resilient populations. In a previous study, a field disease grafting assay was conducted on nursery-reared Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata to quantify relative disease susceptibility. In this study, we further evaluate this field assay by investigating putative disease-causing agents and the microbiome of corals with disease-resistant phenotypes. We conducted 16S rRNA gene high-throughput sequencing on A. cervicornis and A. palmata that were grafted (inoculated) with a diseased A. cervicornis fragment. We found that independent of health state, A. cervicornis and A. palmata had distinct alpha and beta diversity patterns from one another and distinct dominant bacteria. In addition, despite different microbiome patterns between both inoculated coral species, the genus Sphingomonadaceae was significantly found in both diseased coral species. Additionally, a core bacteria member from the order Myxococcales was found at relatively higher abundances in corals with lower rates of disease development following grafting. In all, we identified Sphingomonadaceae as a putative coral pathogen and a bacterium from the order Myxococcales associated with corals that showed disease resistant phenotypes.
Project description:Corals harbor a great diversity of symbiotic microorganisms that play pivotal roles in host nutrition, reproduction, and development. Changes in the ocean environment, such as increasing exposure to artificial light at night (ALAN), may alter these relationships and result in a decline in coral health. In this study, we examined the microbiome associated with gravid specimens of the reef-building coral Acropora digitifera. We also assessed the temporal effects of ALAN on the coral-associated microbial community using high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene V4 hypervariable region. The A. digitifera microbial community was dominated by phyla Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Bacteroidetes. Exposure to ALAN had no large-scale effect on the coral microbiome, although taxa affiliated with Rhodobacteraceae, Caulobacteraceae, Burkholderiaceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Ruminococcaceae were significantly enriched in corals subjected to ALAN. We further noted an increase in the relative abundance of the family Endozoicomonadaceae (Endozoicomonas) as the spawning period approached, regardless of light treatment. These findings highlight the stability of the A. digitifera microbial community under short-term artificial light pollution and provide initial insights into the response of the collective holobiont to ALAN.