McNally Sean

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  • Article
    Species-specific control of external superoxide levels by the coral holobiont during a natural bleaching event
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2016-12-07) Diaz, Julia M. ; Hansel, Colleen M. ; Apprill, Amy ; Brighi, Caterina ; Zhang, Tong ; Weber, Laura ; McNally, Sean ; Xun, Liping
    The reactive oxygen species superoxide (O2·−) is both beneficial and detrimental to life. Within corals, superoxide may contribute to pathogen resistance but also bleaching, the loss of essential algal symbionts. Yet, the role of superoxide in coral health and physiology is not completely understood owing to a lack of direct in situ observations. By conducting field measurements of superoxide produced by corals during a bleaching event, we show substantial species-specific variation in external superoxide levels, which reflect the balance of production and degradation processes. Extracellular superoxide concentrations are independent of light, algal symbiont abundance and bleaching status, but depend on coral species and bacterial community composition. Furthermore, coral-derived superoxide concentrations ranged from levels below bulk seawater up to ∼120 nM, some of the highest superoxide concentrations observed in marine systems. Overall, these results unveil the ability of corals and/or their microbiomes to regulate superoxide in their immediate surroundings, which suggests species-specific roles of superoxide in coral health and physiology.
  • Article
    Multifaceted impacts of the stony coral Porites astreoides on picoplankton abundance and community composition
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-10-12) McNally, Sean ; Parsons, Rachel J. ; Santoro, Alyson E. ; Apprill, Amy
    Picoplankton foster essential recycling of nutrients in the oligotrophic waters sustaining coral reef ecosystems. Despite this fact, there is a paucity of data on how the specific interactions between corals and planktonic bacteria and archaea (picoplankton) contribute to nutrient dynamics and reef productivity. Here, we utilized mesocosm experiments to investigate how corals and coral mucus influence picoplankton and nutrients in reef waters. Over 12 days, we tracked nutrient concentrations, picoplankton abundances and taxonomic composition of picoplankton using direct cell-counts, sequencing of SSU rRNA genes and fluorescent in situ hybridization-based abundances of dominant lineages in the presence or absence of Porites astreoides corals and with mucus additions. Our results demonstrate that when corals are present, Synechococcus, SAR11 and Rhodobacteraceae cells are preferentially removed. When corals were removed, their exudates enhanced the growth of diverse picoplankton, including SAR11 and Rhodobacteraceae. A seven-fold increase in nitrate concentration, possibly caused by nitrogen remineralization (ammonification coupled to nitrification) within the coral holobiont, may have further facilitated the growth of these taxa. In contrast, the addition of mucus resulted in rapid initial growth of total picoplankton and Rhodobacteraceae, but no measurable change in overall community structure. This study presents evidence of the multifaceted influences of corals on picoplankton, in which the coral holobiont selectively removes and promotes the growth of diverse picoplankton and remineralizes nitrogen.
  • Article
    Microbial ecology of coral-dominated reefs in the Federated States of Micronesia
    (Inter Research, 2021-04-22) Apprill, Amy ; Holm, Henry C. ; Santoro, Alyson E. ; Becker, Cynthia ; Neave, Matthew J. ; Hughen, Konrad A. ; Richards Donà, Angela ; Aeby, Greta S. ; Work, Thierry M. ; Weber, Laura ; McNally, Sean
    Microorganisms are central to the functioning of coral reef ecosystems, but their dynamics are unstudied on most reefs. We examined the microbial ecology of shallow reefs within the Federated States of Micronesia. We surveyed 20 reefs surrounding 7 islands and atolls (Yap, Woleai, Olimarao, Kosrae, Kapingamarangi, Nukuoro, and Pohnpei), spanning 875053 km2. On the reefs, we found consistently higher coral coverage (mean ± SD = 36.9 ± 22.2%; max 77%) compared to macroalgae coverage (15.2 ± 15.5%; max 58%), and low abundances of fish. Reef waters had low inorganic nutrient concentrations and were dominated by Synechococcus, Prochlorococcus, and SAR11 bacteria. The richness of bacterial and archaeal communities was significantly related to interactions between island/atoll and depth. High coral coverage on reefs was linked to higher relative abundances of Flavobacteriaceae, Leisingera, Owenweeksia, Vibrio, and the OM27 clade, as well as other heterotrophic bacterial groups, consistent with communities residing in waters near corals and within coral mucus. Microbial community structure at reef depth was significantly correlated with geographic distance, suggesting that island biogeography influences reef microbial communities. Reefs at Kosrae Island, which hosted the highest coral abundance and diversity, were unique compared to other locations; seawater from Kosrae reefs had the lowest organic carbon (59.8-67.9 µM), highest organic nitrogen (4.5-5.3 µM), and harbored consistent microbial communities (>85% similar), which were dominated by heterotrophic cells. This study suggests that the reef-water microbial ecology on Micronesian reefs is influenced by the density and diversity of corals as well as other biogeographical features.
  • Article
    Dark production of extracellular superoxide by the coral Porites astreoides and representative symbionts
    (Frontiers Media, 2016-11-24) Zhang, Tong ; Diaz, Julia M. ; Brighi, Caterina ; Parsons, Rachel J. ; McNally, Sean ; Apprill, Amy ; Hansel, Colleen M.
    The reactive oxygen species (ROS) superoxide has been implicated in both beneficial and detrimental processes in coral biology, ranging from pathogenic disease resistance to coral bleaching. Despite the critical role of ROS in coral health, there is a distinct lack of ROS measurements and thus an incomplete understanding of underpinning ROS sources and production mechanisms within coral systems. Here, we quantified in situ extracellular superoxide concentrations at the surfaces of aquaria-hosted Porites astreoides during a diel cycle. High concentrations of superoxide (~10's of nM) were present at coral surfaces, and these levels did not change significantly as a function of time of day. These results indicate that the coral holobiont produces extracellular superoxide in the dark, independent of photosynthesis. As a short-lived anion at physiological pH, superoxide has a limited ability to cross intact biological membranes. Further, removing surface mucus layers from the P. astreoides colonies did not impact external superoxide concentrations. We therefore attribute external superoxide derived from the coral holobiont under these conditions to the activity of the coral host epithelium, rather than mucus-derived epibionts or internal sources such as endosymbionts (e.g., Symbiodinium). However, endosymbionts likely contribute to internal ROS levels via extracellular superoxide production. Indeed, common coral symbionts, including multiple strains of Symbiodinium (clades A to D) and the bacterium Endozoicomonas montiporae LMG 24815, produced extracellular superoxide in the dark and at low light levels. Further, representative P. astreoides symbionts, Symbiodinium CCMP2456 (clade A) and E. montiporae, produced similar concentrations of superoxide alone and in combination with each other, in the dark and low light, and regardless of time of day. Overall, these results indicate that healthy, non-stressed P. astreoides and representative symbionts produce superoxide externally, which is decoupled from photosynthetic activity and circadian control. Corals may therefore produce extracellular superoxide constitutively, highlighting an unclear yet potentially beneficial role for superoxide in coral physiology and health.
  • Article
    Minor revision to V4 region SSU rRNA 806R gene primer greatly increases detection of SAR11 bacterioplankton
    (Inter-Research, 2015-06-04) Apprill, Amy ; McNally, Sean ; Parsons, Rachel ; Weber, Laura
    High-throughput sequencing of small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) genes from marine environments is a widely applied method used to uncover the composition of microbial communities. We conducted an analysis of surface ocean waters with the commonly employed hypervariable 4 region SSU rRNA gene primers 515F and 806R, and found that bacteria belonging to the SAR11 clade of Alphaproteobacteria, a group typically making up 20 to 40% of the bacterioplankton in this environment, were greatly underrepresented and comprised <4% of the total community. Using the SILVA reference database, we found a single nucleotide mismatch to nearly all SAR11 subclades, and revised the 806R primer so that it increased the detection of SAR11 clade sequences in the database from 2.6 to 96.7%. We then compared the performance of the original and revised 806R primers in surface seawater samples, and found that SAR11 comprised 0.3 to 3.9% of sequences with the original primers and 17.5 to 30.5% of the sequences with the revised 806R primer. Furthermore, an investigation of seawater obtained from aquaria revealed that SAR11 sequences acquired with the revised 806R primer were more similar to natural cellular abundances of SAR11 detected using fluorescence in situ hybridization counts. Collectively, these results demonstrate that a minor adjustment to the 806R primer will greatly increase detection of the globally abundant SAR11 clade in marine and lake environments, and enable inclusion of this important bacterial lineage in experimental and environmental-based studies.