Nutrient enrichment predominantly affects low diversity microbiomes in a marine trophic symbiosis between algal farming fish and corals.


Messyasz, A.,Maher, R. L.,Meiling, S. S., andVega-Thurber, R.




While studies show that nutrient pollution shifts reef trophic interactions between fish, macroalgae, and corals, we know less about how the microbiomes associated with these organisms react to such disturbances. To investigate how microbiome dynamics are affected during nutrient pollution, we exposed replicate Porites lobata corals colonized by the fish Stegastes nigricans, which farm an algal matrix on the coral, to a pulse of nutrient enrichment over a two-month period and examined the microbiome of each partner using 16S amplicon analysis. We found 51 amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) shared among the three hosts. Coral microbiomes had the lowest diversity with over 98% of the microbiome dominated by a single genus, Endozoicomonas. Fish and algal matrix microbiomes were ~20 to 70x more diverse and had higher evenness compared to the corals. The addition of nutrients significantly increased species richness and community variability between samples of coral microbiomes but not the fish or algal matrix microbiomes, demonstrating that coral microbiomes are less resistant to nutrient pollution than their trophic partners. Furthermore, the 51 common ASVs within the 3 hosts indicate microbes that may be shared or transmitted between these closely associated organisms, including Vibrionaceae bacteria, many of which can be pathogenic to corals.





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Journal Article

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