Pyrosequencing Reveals Diverse and Distinct Sponge-Specific Microbial Communities in Sponges from a Single Geographical Location in Irish Waters
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Marine sponges are host to numerically vast and phylogenetically diverse bacterial communities, with 26 major phyla to date having been found in close association with sponge species worldwide. Analyses of these microbial communities have revealed many sponge-specific novel genera and species. These endosymbiotic microbes are believed to play significant roles in sponge physiology including the production of an array of bioactive secondary metabolites. Here, we report on the use of culture-based and culture-independent (pyrosequencing) techniques to elucidate the bacterial community profiles associated with the marine sponges Raspailia ramosa and Stelligera stuposa sampled from a single geographical location in Irish waters and with ambient seawater. To date, little is known about the microbial ecology of sponges of these genera. Culture isolation grossly underestimated sponge-associated bacterial diversity. Four bacterial phyla (Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Proteobacteria) were represented amongst ~200 isolates, compared with ten phyla found using pyrosequencing. Long average read lengths of ~430 bp (V1–V3 region of 16S rRNA gene) allowed for robust resolution of sequences to genus level. Bacterial OTUs (2,109 total), at 95% sequence similarity, from ten bacterial phyla were recovered from R. ramosa, 349 OTUs were identified in S. stuposa representing eight phyla, while 533 OTUs from six phyla were found in surrounding seawater. Bacterial communities differed significantly between sponge species and the seawater. Analysis of the data for sponge-specific taxa revealed that 2.8% of classified reads from the sponge R. ramosa can be defined as sponge-specific, while 26% of S. stuposa sequences represent sponge-specific bacteria. Novel sponge-specific clusters were identified, whereas the majority of previously reported sponge-specific clusters (e.g. Poribacteria) were absent from these sponge species. This deep and robust analysis provides further evidence that the microbial communities associated with marine sponge species are highly diverse and divergent from one another and appear to be host-selected through as yet unknown processes.
KeywordsSponge Proteobacteria Actinobacteria Firmicutes Bacteroidetes
This work was funded by the Beaufort Marine Research Award, part of the Sea Change Strategy and the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation (2006–2012), with the support of The Marine Institute under the Marine Research Sub-Programme of the National Development Plan 2007–2013. We wish to thank Bernard Picton from the National Museums of Northern Ireland and Christine Morrow of Queens University Belfast for sponge collection and identification. We are also grateful to Mike Taylor for providing 16S rRNA datasets used in his sponge-specific cluster analysis.
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