Prokaryotic communities of Indo-Pacific giant barrel sponges are more strongly influenced by geography than host phylogeny

T. Swierts, D F R Cleary, N. J. de Voogd

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19 Scopus citations


Sponges harbor complex communities of microorganisms that carry out essential roles for the functioning and survival of their hosts. In some cases, genetically related sponges from different geographic regions share microbes, while in other cases microbial communities are more similar in unrelated sponges collected from the same location. To better understand how geography and host phylogeny cause variation in the prokaryotic community of sponges, we compared the prokaryotic community of 44 giant barrel sponges (Xestospongia spp.). These sponges belonged to six reproductively isolated genetic groups from eight areas throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Using Illumina sequencing, we obtained 440 000 sequences of the 16S rRNA gene V3V4 variable region that were assigned to 3795 operational taxonomic units (OTUs). The prokaryotic community of giant barrel sponges was characterized by 71 core OTUs (i.e. OTUs present in each specimen) that represented 57.5% of the total number of sequences. The relative abundance of these core OTUs varied significantly among samples, and this variation was predominantly related to the geographic origin of the sample. These results show that in giant barrel sponges, the variation in the prokaryotic community is primarily associated with geography as opposed to phylogenetic relatedness.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Oct 4 2018
Externally publishedYes

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