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Evidence for rapid, tide-related shifts in the microbiome of the coral Coelastrea aspera

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Barbara Brown, Professor Ian Singleton



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2017 The Author(s) Shifts in the microbiome of the intertidal coral Coelastrea aspera (formally known as Goniastrea aspera) from Phuket, Thailand, were noted over the course of a 4-d period of spring tides. During this time, corals were naturally exposed to high temperatures, intense solar radiation, sub-aerial exposure and tidally induced water fluxes. Analysis of the 16S microbiome highlighted that the corals harbored both ‘core or stable’ communities and those which appeared to be more ‘transient or sporadic.’ Only relatively few microbial associates were classified as core microbes; the majority were transient or sporadic. Such transient associates were likely to have been governed by tidally induced variations in mucus thickness and water fluxes. Here we report strong shifts in the bacterial community of C. aspera over a short temporal scale. However, we also show significant differences in the timing of shifts between the two age groups of corals studied. More rapid changes (within 2 d of sub-aerial exposure) occurred within the 4-yr-old colonies, but a slightly delayed response was observed in the 10-yr-old colonies, whereby the microbial associates only changed after 4 d. We hypothesize that these shifts are age related and could be influenced by the observed baseline differences in the microbiome of the 4- and 10-yr-old corals, bacteria–bacteria interactions, and/or host energetics.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sweet MJ, Brown BE, Dunne RP, Singleton I, Bulling M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Coral Reefs

Year: 2017

Volume: 36

Issue: 3

Pages: 815-828

Print publication date: 01/09/2017

Online publication date: 23/03/2017

Acceptance date: 15/03/2017

Date deposited: 26/04/2017

ISSN (print): 0722-4028

Publisher: Springer Verlag


DOI: 10.1007/s00338-017-1572-y


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