Characterisation of coral-associated bacterial communities in an urbanised marine environment shows strong divergence over small geographic scales
The coral holobiont contains a diverse community of bacteria that have been widely acknowledged as a major contributor in the maintenance of host health and in promoting reef resilience under changing environments. However, little is known regarding the spatial distribution of these communities or the processes and mechanisms that are responsible for creating these patterns. Here we show that bacterial communities associated with the reef-building coral, Pocillopora acuta, from nine offshore islands in an urbanised coral reef ecosystem (Singapore) can diverge sharply and are significantly different among sampling locations. We suggest that small-scale environmental factors such as prevailing surface currents and wind direction, even over short distances (< 1 km), are responsible for generating bacterial community structure. Considering the sharp differentiation we observe among bacterial communities from different sites, we recommend that future coral reef restoration projects consider the microbial aspect of the coral holobiont as this may affect the success of coral transplants in recipient populations.
KeywordsCoral reef Singapore 16S Holobiont Dispersal Southeast Asia
This research is supported by the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore under its Marine Science R&D Programme (MSRDP-P03).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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