Pyrosequencing Reveals the Microbial Communities in the Red Sea Sponge Carteriospongia foliascens and Their Impressive Shifts in Abnormal Tissues

Zhaoming Gao, Yong Wang, Onon Lee, Renmao Tian, Yuehim Wong, Salim Bougouffa, Zenon B. Batang, Abdulaziz M. Al-Suwailem, Feras Fawzi Lafi, Vladimir B. Bajic, Pei-Yuan Qian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Abnormality and disease in sponges have been widely reported, yet how sponge-associated microbes respond correspondingly remains inconclusive. Here, individuals of the sponge Carteriospongia foliascens under abnormal status were collected from the Rabigh Bay along the Red Sea coast. Microbial communities in both healthy and abnormal sponge tissues and adjacent seawater were compared to check the influences of these abnormalities on sponge-associated microbes. In healthy tissues, we revealed low microbial diversity with less than 100 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) per sample. Cyanobacteria, affiliated mainly with the sponge-specific species “Candidatus Synechococcus spongiarum,” were the dominant bacteria, followed by Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria. Intraspecies dynamics of microbial communities in healthy tissues were observed among sponge individuals, and potential anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria were found. In comparison with healthy tissues and the adjacent seawater, abnormal tissues showed dramatic increase in microbial diversity and decrease in the abundance of sponge-specific microbial clusters. The dominated cyanobacterial species Candidatus Synechococcus spongiarum decreased and shifted to unspecific cyanobacterial clades. OTUs that showed high similarity to sequences derived from diseased corals, such as Leptolyngbya sp., were found to be abundant in abnormal tissues. Heterotrophic Planctomycetes were also specifically enriched in abnormal tissues. Overall, we revealed the microbial communities of the cyanobacteria-rich sponge, C. foliascens, and their impressive shifts under abnormality.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-632
Number of pages12
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 24 2014

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): SA-C0040/UK-C0016
Acknowledgements: The authors thank WP Zhang and G Zhang from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the technical team from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for technical help during sample collection. The authors also thank Professor Rob von Soest, Zoological Museum, University of Amsterdam, for identification of sponges. This study was supported by a grant (U13012056) from the National Science Foundation of China, a grant from China Ocean Mineral Resource Research and Development Association (COMRRDA12SC02), and an award (SA-C0040/UK-C0016) granted to P.Y. Qian from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. FFL is supported by the KAUST Special Collaborative Partnership grant. VBB is supported by the KAUST Base Research Funds.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Soil Science


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