Bacterial community profiles in low microbial abundance sponges

Emily Giles, Janine Kamke, Lucas Moitinho-Silva, Michael W. Taylor, Ute T E Hentschel, Timothy Ravasi, Susanne Schmitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


It has long been recognized that sponges differ in the abundance of associated microorganisms, and they are therefore termed either 'low microbial abundance' (LMA) or 'high microbial abundance' (HMA) sponges. Many previous studies concentrated on the dense microbial communities in HMA sponges, whereas little is known about microorganisms in LMA sponges. Here, two LMA sponges from the Red Sea, two from the Caribbean and one from the South Pacific were investigated. With up to only five bacterial phyla per sponge, all LMA sponges showed lower phylum-level diversity than typical HMA sponges. Interestingly, each LMA sponge was dominated by a large clade within either Cyanobacteria or different classes of Proteobacteria. The overall similarity of bacterial communities among LMA sponges determined by operational taxonomic unit and UniFrac analysis was low. Also the number of sponge-specific clusters, which indicate bacteria specifically associated with sponges and which are numerous in HMA sponges, was low. A biogeographical or host-dependent distribution pattern was not observed. In conclusion, bacterial community profiles of LMA sponges are clearly different from profiles of HMA sponges and, remarkably, each LMA sponge seems to harbour its own unique bacterial community. © 2012 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-241
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 4 2012

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This study was supported by DFG grant HE3299/1-3 to U.H. M.W.T. would like to acknowledge funding support from the University of Auckland Faculty Research Development Fund (grant 3609286). E.C.G. and T.R. were supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. L.M.S. was supported by a grant of the German Excellence Initiative to the Graduate School of Life Sciences, University of Wuerzburg.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Microbiology


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