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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 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

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-06-07
Acknowledgements: The research was funded by NWO-Aspasia grant 015.010.030 and NWO VIDI grant 016.161.301. Financial support was provided to CESAM (UID/AMB/50 017 - POCI-01-0145-FEDER-0 07638), for the project LESS CORAL (PTDC/AAC-AMB/115 304/2009), by FCT/MEC through national funds, and co-funding by FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020. Fieldwork in the Red Sea was supported by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and we thank Michael Berumen for his support. Fieldwork in Mayotte was financed through the ANR-Netbiome under grant number ANR-11-EBIM-0006. Research permits were issued via Terres Australes en Antartiques francaises (TAAF). We thank Anne Bialecki, Cecile Debitus, Bruno Fichou, Stephan Aubert, Philippe Prost and Jean-Pierre Bellanger for their support. Research permits in Indonesia were issued by the Indonesian State Ministry for Research and Technology (RISTEK) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (PPO-LIPI). Fieldwork in Lembeh Strait (2012) took place during a Marine Biodiversity Workshop based at the Bitung Field Station of RCO-LIPI, co-organized by Universitas Sam Ratulangi. Field work in Makassar was supported by the Hasanuddin University. Fieldwork in Thailand was supported by the institute of Marine Sciences of the Burapha University and we thank Saowapa Sawatpeer, Sumaitt Putchakarn and Chad Scott for their support. The Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister's Department Malaysia, and the Department of Marine Park Malaysia granted research permits to Z Waheed and we thank her for support. The study in Vietnam was made possible through collaborations with the Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and we especially thank Nguyen Khac Bat. We thank Swee Cheng Lim for his help in Singapore and Yusheng Huang in Taiwan.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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