In the present study, we assessed prokaryotic communities of demosponges, a calcareous sponge, octocorals, sediment and seawater in coral reef habitat of the central Red Sea, including endemic species and species new to science. Goals of the study were to compare the prokaryotic communities of demosponges with the calcareous sponge and octocorals and to assign preliminary high microbial abundance (HMA) or low microbial abundance (LMA) status to the sponge species based on compositional trait data. Based on the compositional data, we were able to assign preliminary LMA or HMA status to all sponge species. Certain species, however, had traits of both LMA and HMA species. For example, the sponge Ectyoplasia coccinea, which appeared to be a LMA species, had traits, including a relatively high abundance of Chloroflexi members, that were more typical of HMA species. This included dominant OTUs assigned to two different classes within the Chloroflexi. The calcareous sponge clustered together with seawater, the known LMA sponge Stylissa carteri and other presumable LMA species. The two dominant OTUs of this species were assigned to the Deltaproteobacteria and had no close relatives in the GenBank database. The octocoral species in the present study had prokaryotic communities that were distinct from sediment, seawater and all sponge species. These were characterised by OTUs assigned to the orders Rhodospirillales, Cellvibrionales, Spirochaetales and the genus Endozoicomonas, which were rare or absent in samples from other biotopes.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Michael Campbell for providing the map. We are grateful for support in the field from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, including support from the Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab.