Differential specificity between closely related corals and abundant Endozoicomonas endosymbionts across global scales
Neave, Matthew J.
Michell, Craig T.
Bourne, David G.
Voolstra, Christian R.
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Reef-building corals are well regarded not only for their obligate association with endosymbiotic algae, but also with prokaryotic symbionts, the specificity of which remains elusive. To identify the central microbial symbionts of corals, their specificity across species and conservation over geographic regions, we sequenced partial SSU ribosomal RNA genes of Bacteria and Archaea from the common corals Stylophora pistillata and Pocillopora verrucosa across 28 reefs within seven major geographical regions. We demonstrate that both corals harbor Endozoicomonas bacteria as their prevalent symbiont. Importantly, catalyzed reporter deposition–fluorescence in situ hybridization (CARD–FISH) with Endozoicomonas-specific probes confirmed their residence as large aggregations deep within coral tissues. Using fine-scale genotyping techniques and single-cell genomics, we demonstrate that P. verrucosa harbors the same Endozoicomonas, whereas S. pistillata associates with geographically distinct genotypes. This specificity may be shaped by the different reproductive strategies of the hosts, potentially uncovering a pattern of symbiont selection that is linked to life history. Spawning corals such as P. verrucosa acquire prokaryotes from the environment. In contrast, brooding corals such as S. pistillata release symbiont-packed planula larvae, which may explain a strong regional signature in their microbiome. Our work contributes to the factors underlying microbiome specificity and adds detail to coral holobiont functioning.
© The Author(s), 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in The ISME Journal 11 (2017): 186–200, doi:10.1038/ismej.2016.95.
Suggested CitationThe ISME Journal 11 (2017): 186–200
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