Invasion Is a Community Affair: Clandestine Followers in the Bacterial Community Associated to Green Algae, Caulerpa racemosa, Track the Invasion Source

Tania Aires, Ester A. Serrão, Gary Kendrick, Carlos M. Duarte, Sophie Arnaud-Haond*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Biological invasions rank amongst the most deleterious components of global change inducing alterations from genes to ecosystems. The genetic characteristics of introduced pools of individuals greatly influence the capacity of introduced species to establish and expand. The recently demonstrated heritability of microbial communities associated to individual genotypes of primary producers makes them a potentially essential element of the evolution and adaptability of their hosts. Here, we characterized the bacterial communities associated to native and non-native populations of the marine green macroalga Caulerpa racemosa through pyrosequencing, and explored their potential role on the strikingly invasive trajectory of their host in the Mediterranean. The similarity of endophytic bacterial communities from the native Australian range and several Mediterranean locations confirmed the origin of invasion and revealed distinct communities associated to a second Mediterranean variety of C. racemosa long reported in the Mediterranean. Comparative analysis of these two groups demonstrated the stability of the composition of bacterial communities through the successive steps of introduction and invasion and suggested the vertical transmission of some major bacterial OTUs. Indirect inferences on the taxonomic identity and associated metabolism of bacterial lineages showed a striking consistency with sediment upheaval conditions associated to the expansion of their invasive host and to the decline of native species. These results demonstrate that bacterial communities can be an effective tracer of the origin of invasion and support their potential role in their eukaryotic host's adaptation to new environments. They put forward the critical need to consider the 'meta-organism' encompassing both the host and associated micro-organisms, to unravel the origins, causes and mechanisms underlying biological invasions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere68429
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 16 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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