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ArticleCharacterizing the culturable surface microbiomes of diverse marine animals(Oxford University Press, 2021-03-03) Keller, Abigail G. ; Apprill, Amy ; Lebaron, Philippe ; Robbins, Jooke ; Romano, Tracy ; Overton, Ellysia ; Rong, Yuying ; Yuan, Ruiyi ; Pollara, Scott B. ; Whalen, Kristen E.Biofilm-forming bacteria have the potential to contribute to the health, physiology, behavior and ecology of the host and serve as its first line of defense against adverse conditions in the environment. While metabarcoding and metagenomic information furthers our understanding of microbiome composition, fewer studies use cultured samples to study the diverse interactions among the host and its microbiome, as cultured representatives are often lacking. This study examines the surface microbiomes cultured from three shallow-water coral species and two whale species. These unique marine animals place strong selective pressures on their microbial symbionts and contain members under similar environmental and anthropogenic stress. We developed an intense cultivation procedure, utilizing a suite of culture conditions targeting a rich assortment of biofilm-forming microorganisms. We identified 592 microbial isolates contained within 15 bacterial orders representing 50 bacterial genera, and two fungal species. Culturable bacteria from coral and whale samples paralleled taxonomic groups identified in culture-independent surveys, including 29% of all bacterial genera identified in the Megaptera novaeangliae skin microbiome through culture-independent methods. This microbial repository provides raw material and biological input for more nuanced studies which can explore how members of the microbiome both shape their micro-niche and impact host fitness.