Crustose coralline algae that promote coral larval settlement harbor distinct surface bacterial communities

tilmann.harder [ at ]


Most benthic invertebrates, including ecosystem engineers such as corals, sponges and bivalves, have a motile planktonic larval phase and rely on specific chemical cues to identify a suitable substrate to settle. Crustose coralline algae (CCA) can induce settlement and metamorphosis responses in many invertebrates including corals. We tested the respective coral settlement capacity of multiple CCA species in a choice experiment and investigated the composition of their microbiomes. Our findings revealed that coral larval settlement was drastically influenced by CCA genera and also suggest that bacterial communities on the CCA surface can potentially serve as a driver of coral larval settlement. The composition of the bacterial communities on the surface of the least attractive CCA genus, Neogoniolithon fosliei, was markedly different from the other genera, Porolithon gardineri and Titanoderma prototypum and was significantly enriched in Vibrio and Flammeovirgaceae. The activity of CCA-associated bacterial communities may contribute to some of the variability observed in settlement responses between CCA species. Specific bacterial ASVs assigned to the Neptuniibacter, Methylotrophic Group 3 and Cellvibrionaceae were positively correlated with coral settlement. Conversely, ASVs assigned as Vibrio and Flammeovirga were negatively correlated with coral settlement. This study identifies putative bacterial taxa involved in coral settlement, which is an essential step to understand the chemical cues involved in this process and to predict the ability of corals to recolonize damaged reefs following disturbances.

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DOI 10.1007/s00338-020-01997-5

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Siboni, N. , Abrego, D. , Puill-Stephan, E. , King, W. L. , Bourne, D. G. , Raina, J. B. , Seymour, J. R. and Harder, T. (2020): Crustose coralline algae that promote coral larval settlement harbor distinct surface bacterial communities , Coral Reefs, 39 (6), pp. 1703-1713 . doi: 10.1007/s00338-020-01997-5

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