Diversity of filamentous fungi associated with coral and sponges in coastal reefs of northeast Brazil

J Basic Microbiol. 2020 Feb;60(2):103-111. doi: 10.1002/jobm.201900394. Epub 2019 Nov 7.


Fungi are known to form associations with various marine organisms and substrata such as sponges and corals, both as potential symbionts or pathogens. These microorganisms occupy an ecological niche that has recently attracted great attention due to their potential in either ecological or pharmaceutical advances. However, the interaction between marine invertebrates and fungi is still poorly understood, including how they are affected by anthropogenic actions. Here, we identified 89 fungal isolates through sequencing of the ITS rDNA region obtained from the various sponge and coral species collected at two northeast Brazilian reefs. We found 43 species of fungi from 16 genera, all belonging to phylum Ascomycota. The sponges and coral shared four genera: Aspergillus, Penicillium, Trichoderma, and Cladosporium, all commonly found in terrestrial habitats and associated with marine invertebrates. We observed some unusual species in relation to the marine environment, such as Clonostachys rosea and Neopestalotiopsis clavispora, most of them related to plants, either as saprophytic or pathogenic, suggesting that these species were transported from the surrounding terrestrial environment to the reefs. In addition, some isolates represent possible undescribed species, reinforcing the importance of studying the marine environment in relation to its ecological and biotechnological importance.

Keywords: culturable fungi; marine invertebrates; pH and coliforms.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthozoa / microbiology*
  • Biodiversity*
  • Brazil
  • Coral Reefs
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Fungi / classification*
  • Host Microbial Interactions*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Phylogeny
  • Porifera / microbiology*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Ribosomal