Spirochaetes dominate the microbial community associated with the red coral Corallium rubrum on a broad geographic scale

Jeroen A. J. M. van de Water, Rémy Melkonian, Howard Junca, Christian R. Voolstra, Stéphanie Reynaud, Denis Allemand, Christine Ferrier-Pagès

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61 Scopus citations


Mass mortality events in populations of the iconic red coral Corallium rubrum have been related to seawater temperature anomalies that may have triggered microbial disease development. However, very little is known about the bacterial community associated with the red coral. We therefore aimed to provide insight into this species’ bacterial assemblages using Illumina MiSeq sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons generated from samples collected at five locations distributed across the western Mediterranean Sea. Twelve bacterial species were found to be consistently associated with the red coral, forming a core microbiome that accounted for 94.6% of the overall bacterial community. This core microbiome was particularly dominated by bacteria of the orders Spirochaetales and Oceanospirillales, in particular the ME2 family. Bacteria belonging to these orders have been implicated in nutrient cycling, including nitrogen, carbon and sulfur. While Oceanospirillales are common symbionts of marine invertebrates, our results identify members of the Spirochaetales as other important dominant symbiotic bacterial associates within Anthozoans.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 6 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank the Paul Hamel Foundation, EC Project MAGICPAH (FP7-KBBE-2009-245226), Colciencias and Project CIAS-1470 UMNG 2014 for providing research funding. Eric Galvez and Marcela Villegas are thanked for preliminary data analysis, and Eric Beraud and Cecile Rottier for assistance with sample collection. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


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