Coral Reefs

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Biodiversity of endolithic fungi in coral skeletons and other reef substrates revealed with 18S rDNA metabarcoding

  • Aristóteles Góes-Neto
  • Vanessa Rossetto Marcelino
  • Heroen Verbruggen
  • Felipe Ferreira da Silva
  • Fernanda BadottiEmail author


Corals live in close association with a diverse community of eukaryotes, bacteria, archaea and viruses that, together with the coral host, form the coral holobiont. Fungi are an important component of the coral holobiont; however, knowledge about their taxonomic diversity and the ecological functions these organisms play in reef corals is still scarce. In this study, we used metabarcoding to characterize the fungal community inhabiting the skeleton of eleven coral genera, as well as samples of crustose coralline algae, from Australia and Papua New Guinea. Most of the 24 distinct fungal genera identified were assigned to the phylum Ascomycota, followed by Basidiomycota. Lulworthia and Lulwoana (Ascomycota) were the most abundant and prevalent genera detected in our study. Besides these widely distributed genera, others never associated with corals or marine environments before, such as Geranomyces (Chytriomycota), Flammulina (Basidiomycota) and Ophiosphaerella (Ascomycota), were also detected. The predicted functional groups give insights into potential lifestyles and ecological functions of the fungal community in reef ecosystems. This study provides important observational data on a group of holobiont members that has received little attention.


Fungal diversity Coral Reef substrates Metabarcoding Mycobiome Endolithic 



The authors would like to thank the Graduate Programs in Microbiology ( and Bioinformatics ( AG–N received a productivity research grant (no. 310764/2016-5) from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development ( VRM is supported by the Sydney Medical School Foundation. This work was supported by the Australian Biological Resources Study (RFL213-08).

Authors Contributions

VRM and HV collected the samples and performed the amplifications and sequencing experiments. FB conceptualized the study and wrote the paper. FFS performed the bioinformatic analyses. AG–N supervised the analyses and contributed in all the steps of the study. All the authors contributed with the data analyses and with the manuscript written.

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

338_2019_1880_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 19 kb)
338_2019_1880_MOESM2_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, Institute of Biological SciencesUniversidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG)Belo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.School of BiosciencesUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity and Sydney Medical SchoolUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Department of ChemistryCentro Federal de Educação Tecnológica de Minas Gerais (CEFET-MG)Belo HorizonteBrazil

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