Diazotrophic diversity in the Caribbean coral, Montastraea cavernosa

Arch Microbiol. 2013 Dec;195(12):853-9. doi: 10.1007/s00203-013-0937-z. Epub 2013 Nov 12.


Previous research on the Caribbean coral Montastraea cavernosa reported the presence of cyanobacterial endosymbionts and nitrogen fixation in orange, but not brown, colonies. We compared the diversity of nifH gene sequences between these two color morphs at three locations in the Caribbean and found that the nifH sequences recovered from M. cavernosa were consistent with previous studies on corals where members of both the α-proteobacteria and cyanobacteria were recovered. A number of nifH operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were significantly more abundant in the orange compared to the brown morphs, and one specific OTU (OTU 17), a cyanobacterial nifH sequence similar to others from corals and sponges and related to the cyanobacterial genus Cyanothece, was found in all orange morphs of M. cavernosa at all locations. The nifH diversity reported here, from a community perspective, was not significantly different between orange and brown morphs of M. cavernosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthozoa / microbiology*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Biodiversity*
  • Caribbean Region
  • Cyanobacteria / classification
  • Cyanobacteria / genetics
  • Genetic Variation
  • Nitrogen Fixation / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics


  • Oxidoreductases
  • nitrogenase reductase