Glasl et al. 2017

scientific article | Coral Reefs

Microbiome variation in corals with distinct depth distribution ranges across a shallow–mesophotic gradient (15–85 m)

Glasl B, Bongaerts P, Elisabeth NH, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Herndl GJ, Frade PR

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Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) are generally poorly studied, and our knowledge of lower MCEs (below 60 m depth) is largely limited to visual surveys. Here, we provide a first detailed assessment of the prokaryotic community associated with scleractinian corals over a depth gradient to the lower mesophotic realm (15–85 m). Specimens of three Caribbean coral species exhibiting differences in their depth distribution ranges (Agaricia grahamae, Madracis pharensis and Stephanocoenia intersepta) were collected with a manned submersible on the island of Curaçao, and their prokaryotic communities assessed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing analysis. Corals with narrower depth distribution ranges (depth-specialists) were associated with a stable prokaryotic community, whereas corals with a broader niche range (depth-generalists) revealed a higher variability in their prokaryotic community. The observed depth effects match previously described patterns in Symbiodinium depth zonation. This highlights the contribution of structured microbial communities over depth to the coral’s ability to colonize a broader depth range.

S00338 016 1517 x
Meta-data (pending validation)
Depth range
15- 85 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
23 x (total of 2713 words)


Research focus
Scleractinia (Hard Corals) Bacteria and Archaea


Research platforms
Diving - Technical Open-Circuit Manned Submersible
Author profiles
Pim Bongaerts ( 25 pubs)
Pedro Frade ( 6 pubs)