Inter-domain microbial diversity within the coral holobiont Siderastrea siderea from two depth habitats

PeerJ. 2018 Feb 9;6:e4323. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4323. eCollection 2018.


Corals host diverse microbial communities that are involved in acclimatization, pathogen defense, and nutrient cycling. Surveys of coral-associated microbes have been particularly directed toward Symbiodinium and bacteria. However, a holistic understanding of the total microbiome has been hindered by a lack of analyses bridging taxonomically disparate groups. Using high-throughput amplicon sequencing, we simultaneously characterized the Symbiodinium, bacterial, and fungal communities associated with the Caribbean coral Siderastrea siderea collected from two depths (17 and 27 m) on Conch reef in the Florida Keys. S. siderea hosted an exceptionally diverse Symbiodinium community, structured differently between sampled depth habitats. While dominated at 27 m by a Symbiodinium belonging to clade C, at 17 m S. siderea primarily hosted a mixture of clade B types. Most fungal operational taxonomic units were distantly related to available reference sequences, indicating the presence of a high degree of fungal novelty within the S. siderea holobiont and a lack of knowledge on the diversity of fungi on coral reefs. Network analysis showed that co-occurrence patterns in the S. siderea holobiont were prevalent among bacteria, however, also detected between fungi and bacteria. Overall, our data show a drastic shift in the associated Symbiodinium community between depths on Conch Reef, which might indicate that alteration in this community is an important mechanism facilitating local physiological adaptation of the S. siderea holobiont. In contrast, bacterial and fungal communities were not structured differently between depth habitats.

Keywords: Coral; Coral-associated microbiome; Fungi; Microbial community; Symbiodinium; Symbiosis.

Grant support

This work was funded by the NEEMO mission and by a Florida International University start-up grant awarded to Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty. There was no additional external funding received for this study. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.