Microbial Ecology

, Volume 74, Issue 4, pp 969–978 | Cite as

Shared Epizoic Taxa and Differences in Diatom Community Structure Between Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) from Distant Habitats

  • Roksana Majewska
  • Bart Van de Vijver
  • Ali Nasrolahi
  • Maryam Ehsanpour
  • Majid Afkhami
  • Federico Bolaños
  • Franco Iamunno
  • Mario Santoro
  • Mario De Stefano
Host Microbe Interactions


The first reports of diatoms growing on marine mammals date back to the early 1900s. However, only recently has direct evidence been provided for similar associations between diatoms and sea turtles. We present a comparison of diatom communities inhabiting carapaces of green turtles Chelonia mydas sampled at two remote sites located within the Indian (Iran) and Atlantic (Costa Rica) Ocean basins. Diatom observations and counts were carried out using scanning electron microscopy. Techniques involving critical point drying enabled observations of diatoms and other microepibionts still attached to sea turtle carapace and revealed specific aspects of the epizoic community structure. Species-poor, well-developed diatom communities were found on all examined sea turtles. Significant differences between the two host sea turtle populations were observed in terms of diatom abundance and their community structure (including growth form structure). A total of 12 and 22 diatom taxa were found from sea turtles in Iran and Costa Rica, respectively, and eight of these species belonging to Amphora, Chelonicola, Cocconeis, Navicula, Nitzschia and Poulinea genera were observed in samples from both locations. Potential mechanisms of diatom dispersal and the influence of the external environment, sea turtle behaviour, its life stage, and foraging and breeding habitats, as well as epibiotic bacterial flora on epizoic communities, are discussed.


Biofilm Epizoic diatom Marine epibiosis Persian Gulf Sea turtle Tortuguero 



The authors wish to thank Nathan J. Robinson, Thomas A. Frankovich, Rachel Welicky, Jeanette Wyneken, Justin Perrault, and Peter Convey for their valuable suggestions and comments on earlier drafts of this paper. This work was done with the partial financial support from the University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli” (Italy).

Supplementary material

248_2017_987_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary Table S1 (DOCX 15 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roksana Majewska
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bart Van de Vijver
    • 4
    • 5
  • Ali Nasrolahi
    • 6
  • Maryam Ehsanpour
    • 6
  • Majid Afkhami
    • 7
  • Federico Bolaños
    • 8
  • Franco Iamunno
    • 9
  • Mario Santoro
    • 10
  • Mario De Stefano
    • 3
  1. 1.Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, School of Biological SciencesNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa
  2. 2.South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)GrahamstownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and TechnologiesUniversity of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”CasertaItaly
  4. 4.Department of Bryophyta & ThallophytaBotanic Garden MeiseMeiseBelgium
  5. 5.Department of Biology, ECOBEUniversity of AntwerpWilrijkBelgium
  6. 6.Department of Aquatic Biotechnology, Faculty of Life Sciences and BiotechnologyShahid Beheshti UniversityTehranIran
  7. 7.Young Researchers and Elite Club, Bandar Abbas BranchIslamic Azad UniversityBandar AbbasIran
  8. 8.Escuela de BiologíaUniversidad de Costa RicaSan JoséCosta Rica
  9. 9.Stazione Zoologica Anton DohrnNaplesItaly
  10. 10.Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del MezzogiornoPorticiItaly

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