Microbial Ecology

, Volume 68, Issue 3, pp 621–632 | Cite as

Pyrosequencing Reveals the Microbial Communities in the Red Sea Sponge Carteriospongia foliascens and Their Impressive Shifts in Abnormal Tissues

  • Zhao-Ming Gao
  • Yong Wang
  • On On Lee
  • Ren-Mao Tian
  • Yue Him Wong
  • Salim Bougouffa
  • Zenon Batang
  • Abdulaziz Al-Suwailem
  • Feras F. Lafi
  • Vladimir B. Bajic
  • Pei-Yuan Qian
Host Microbe Interactions


Abnormality and disease in sponges have been widely reported, yet how sponge-associated microbes respond correspondingly remains inconclusive. Here, individuals of the sponge Carteriospongia foliascens under abnormal status were collected from the Rabigh Bay along the Red Sea coast. Microbial communities in both healthy and abnormal sponge tissues and adjacent seawater were compared to check the influences of these abnormalities on sponge-associated microbes. In healthy tissues, we revealed low microbial diversity with less than 100 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) per sample. Cyanobacteria, affiliated mainly with the sponge-specific species “Candidatus Synechococcus spongiarum,” were the dominant bacteria, followed by Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria. Intraspecies dynamics of microbial communities in healthy tissues were observed among sponge individuals, and potential anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria were found. In comparison with healthy tissues and the adjacent seawater, abnormal tissues showed dramatic increase in microbial diversity and decrease in the abundance of sponge-specific microbial clusters. The dominated cyanobacterial species Candidatus Synechococcus spongiarum decreased and shifted to unspecific cyanobacterial clades. OTUs that showed high similarity to sequences derived from diseased corals, such as Leptolyngbya sp., were found to be abundant in abnormal tissues. Heterotrophic Planctomycetes were also specifically enriched in abnormal tissues. Overall, we revealed the microbial communities of the cyanobacteria-rich sponge, C. foliascens, and their impressive shifts under abnormality.


Microbial Community Sponge Healthy Tissue Synechococcus Bacteroidetes 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank WP Zhang and G Zhang from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the technical team from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for technical help during sample collection. The authors also thank Professor Rob von Soest, Zoological Museum, University of Amsterdam, for identification of sponges. This study was supported by a grant (U13012056) from the National Science Foundation of China, a grant from China Ocean Mineral Resource Research and Development Association (COMRRDA12SC02), and an award (SA-C0040/UK-C0016) granted to P.Y. Qian from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. FFL is supported by the KAUST Special Collaborative Partnership grant. VBB is supported by the KAUST Base Research Funds.

Supplementary material

248_2014_419_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.2 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1212 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhao-Ming Gao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yong Wang
    • 1
    • 3
  • On On Lee
    • 1
  • Ren-Mao Tian
    • 1
  • Yue Him Wong
    • 1
  • Salim Bougouffa
    • 1
    • 5
  • Zenon Batang
    • 4
  • Abdulaziz Al-Suwailem
    • 4
  • Feras F. Lafi
    • 5
  • Vladimir B. Bajic
    • 5
  • Pei-Yuan Qian
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Life ScienceThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyHong KongPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Marine Biogenetic Resources, Third Institute of OceanographyState Oceanic Administration (SOA)XiamenPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Sanya Institute of Deep Sea Science and EngineeringChinese Academy of SciencesHai NanPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Coastal and Marine Resources Core LabKing Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)ThuwalSaudi Arabia
  5. 5.Computational Bioscience Research Center (CBRC)King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)ThuwalSaudi Arabia

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