Archaea, Bacteria, and Algal Plastids Associated with the Reef-Building Corals Siderastrea stellata and Mussismilia hispida from Búzios, South Atlantic Ocean, Brazil


Reef-building corals may be seen as holobiont organisms, presenting diverse associated microbial communities. Best known is the symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, but Archaea, Bacteria, fungi, viruses, and algal plastids are also abundant. Until now, there is little information concerning microbial communities associated with Brazilian corals. The present study aims to describe the diversity of Archaea, Bacteria, and eukaryotic algal plastid communities associated with two sympatric species, Siderastrea stellata and Mussismilia hispida, from Southeastern Brazil, using 16S rRNA gene libraries. Since corals present a high number of other associated invertebrates, coral barcoding (COI) was performed to confirm the exclusive occurrence of coral DNA in our samples. Our analysis yielded 354 distinct microbial OTUs, represented mainly by novel phylotypes. Richness (Chao1 and ACE) and diversity (H') estimations of the microbial communities associated with both species were high and comparable to other studies. Rarefaction analyses showed that microbial diversity of S. stellata is higher than that of M. hispida. Libshuff comparative analyses showed that the highest microbial community similarity between the two coral species occurred in the bacterial libraries, while archaeal and plastidial communities were significantly different. Crenarchaeota dominated archaeal communities, while Proteobacteria was the most abundant bacterial phylum, dominated by alpha-Proteobacteria. Plastids were also represented by novel phylotypes and did not match with any 16S rRNA sequences of Cyanobacteria and zooxanthellae from GenBank. Our data improves the pool of available information on Brazilian coral microbes and shows corals as sources of diverse prokaryotic and picoeukaryotic communities.

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We acknowledge the Genome Sequencing facilities core Johanna Döbereiner, at IBqM/UFRJ, and the Genome Sequencing facilities core PDTIS/FIOCRUZ. The authors wish to thank Denise Oliveira for technical support, Ricardo Coutinho for logistical collection support, and Henrique Lins-de-Barros for helpful comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Ensino Superior (CAPES), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), and Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ).

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Correspondence to Monica M. Lins-de-Barros.

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Lins-de-Barros, M.M., Vieira, R.P., Cardoso, A.M. et al. Archaea, Bacteria, and Algal Plastids Associated with the Reef-Building Corals Siderastrea stellata and Mussismilia hispida from Búzios, South Atlantic Ocean, Brazil. Microb Ecol 59, 523–532 (2010).

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  • Archaea
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Coral Species
  • Rarefaction Analysis
  • Black Band Disease