Ainsworth et al. 2015

scientific_article | ISME J

The coral core microbiome identifies rare bacterial taxa as ubiquitous endosymbionts

Ainsworth TD, Krause L, Bridge T, Torda G, Raina J-B, Zakrzewski M, Gates RD, Padilla-Gamiño JL, Spalding HL, Smith C, Woolsey ES, Bourne DG, Bongaerts P, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Leggat W

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Despite being one of the simplest metazoans, corals harbor some of the most highly diverse and abundant microbial communities. Differentiating core, symbiotic bacteria from this diverse host-associated consortium is essential for characterizing the functional contributions of bacteria but has not been possible yet. Here we characterize the coral core microbiome and demonstrate clear phylogenetic and functional divisions between the micro-scale, niche habitats within the coral host. In doing so, we discover seven distinct bacterial phylotypes that are universal to the core microbiome of coral species, separated by thousands of kilometres of oceans. The two most abundant phylotypes are co-localized specifically with the corals’ endosymbiotic algae and symbiont-containing host cells. These bacterial symbioses likely facilitate the success of the dinoflagellate endosymbiosis with corals in diverse environmental regimes.

Research sites

10.1038   ismej.2015.39
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Depth range
1- 123 m

Mesophotic “relevance”
4x mentions

Word count
5871 words

Biodiversity Ecology Molecular ecology

Research focus
Scleractinia (Hard Corals) Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae) Bacteria and Archaea

Australia-Coral Sea Australia-GBR Hawaii

Research platforms
Diving (unspecified) Diving - Technical Rebreather Manned Submersible
Author profiles
Tracy Ainsworth ( 2 pubs)
Pim Bongaerts ( 23 pubs)
Tom (Thomas) Bridge ( 19 pubs)
Bill Leggat ( 2 pubs)
Heather Spalding ( 10 pubs)
Research sites (dec deg)
Australia-Coral Sea
Mantis Reef
Lat: -12.21 Long: 143.931

Australia-Coral Sea
Lagoon Reef
Lat: -12.395 Long: 143.787

Australia-Coral Sea
Tydeman Reef
Lat: -13.968 Long: 144.508

Yonge Reef
Lat: -14.616 Long: 145.637

Australia-Coral Sea
nº5 Ribbon Reef
Lat: -15.377 Long: 145.796

Unnamed site
Lat: 19.896766 Long: -155.582782