, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 617-627
Date: 15 Apr 2012

Diversity and Antimicrobial Activity of Culturable Fungi Isolated from Six Species of the South China Sea Gorgonians

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Fungi in gorgonians are now known to cause gorgonian diseases, but little attention has been paid to the nature of fungal communities associated with gorgonians. The diversity of culturable fungi associated with six species of healthy South China Sea gorgonians were investigated using a culture-dependent method followed by analysis of fungal internal transcribed spacer sequences. A total of 121 fungal isolates were recovered and identified using the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool search program. These belonged to 41 fungal species from 20 genera. Of these, 30 species and 12 genera are new reports for gorgonians, and the genera Aspergillus and Penicillium were the most diverse and common in the six gorgonian species. Comparison of the fungal communities in the six gorgonian species, together with results from previous relevant studies, indicated that different gorgonian species and the same gorgonian species living in different geographic locations had different fungal communities. The gorgonian Dichotella gemmacea harbored the most fungal species and isolates, while Echinogorgia aurantiaca had the least fungal diversity. Among the six media used for fungal isolation, potato glucose agar yielded the highest isolates (27 isolates), while glucose peptone starch agar had the best recoverability of fungal species (15 species). The antimicrobial activity of the 121 fungal isolates was tested against three marine bacteria and two marine gorgonian pathogenic fungi. A relatively high proportion (38 %) of fungal isolates displayed distinct antibacterial and antifungal activity, suggesting that the gorgonian-associated fungi may aid their hosts in protection against pathogens. This is the first report comparing the diversity of fungal communities among the South China Sea gorgonians. It contributes to our knowledge of gorgonian-associated fungi and further increases the pool of fungi available for natural bioactive product screening.