Reef-building corals form complex relationships with a range of microorganisms including bacteria, archaea, fungi and the unicellular microalgae of the genus Symbiodinium, which together form the coral holobiont. These symbionts are known to have both beneficial and deleterious effects on their coral host, but little is known about what the governing factors of these relationships are, or the interactions that exist between the different members of the holobiont and their environment. Here we used 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon sequencing to investigate how archaeal and bacterial communities associated with the widespread scleractinian coral Seriatopora hystrix are influenced by extrinsic (reef habitat and geographic location) and intrinsic (host genotype and Symbiodinium subclade) factors. Bacteria dominate the microbiome of S. hystrix, with members of the Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria and Bacteriodetes being the most predominant in all samples. The richness and evenness of these communities varied between reef habitats, but there was no significant difference between distinct coral host lineages or corals hosting distinct Symbiodinium subclades. The coral microbiomes correlated to reef habitat (depth) and geographic location, with a negative correlation between Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria, driven by the key members of both groups (Rhodobacteraceae and Hahellaceae, respectively), which showed significant differences between location and depth. This study suggests that the control of microbial communities associated with the scleractinian coral S. hystrix is driven primarily by external environmental conditions rather than by those directly associated with the coral holobiont.
Australia - Great Barrier Reef
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)