Comparative analysis and culturing of the microbial community of Aiptasia pallida, A Sea Anemone Model for Coral Biology

  • Mohammad Binsarhan

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Recent works has highlighted the contribution of microbes to animal function. In this regard, the microbial community associated with corals has become a growing field of research in order to understand how microbes contribute to the host organisms’ response to environmental changes. It has been shown that microbes associated with corals have important functions in the coral holobiont such as immunity and nutrient assimilation. However, corals are notoriously difficult to work with. To this end, the sea anemone Aiptasia is becoming a model organism for coral symbiosis. Given the importance of host-­microbiome interactions, the topic of this thesis is to assess microbial structure of Aiptasia, culture prominent bacterial members, and compare bacterial community structure to corals. Different molecular methods have been applied using 16S rRNA bacterial gene fragments to characterize the microbial composition of Aiptasia. 16S rRNA gene sequence derived from cultured bacteria was compared to 16S rRNA gene sequences retrieved from native Red Sea Aiptasia. Inter-­individual as well as methodological differences were found to account for variance in microbiome composition. However, all approaches showed a highly abundant microbial taxon belonging to the genus Alteromonas in all samples. The Alteromonas species was successfully isolated for further research targeting microbiome selection mechanisms in Aiptasia. Future investigations by using different molecular tools will help to define the functions and relationship between the Aiptasia and its complex microbiome.
Date of AwardJan 2016
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorChristian Voolstra (Supervisor)


  • Aiptasia
  • Microbiome
  • Alteromonas
  • Coral
  • Native Bacteria
  • Culturable Bacteria

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