It has long been recognized that sponges differ in the abundance of associated microorganisms, and they are therefore termed either 'low microbial abundance' (LMA) or 'high microbial abundance' (HMA) sponges. Many previous studies concentrated on the dense microbial communities in HMA sponges, whereas little is known about microorganisms in LMA sponges. Here, two LMA sponges from the Red Sea, two from the Caribbean and one from the South Pacific were investigated. With up to only five bacterial phyla per sponge, all LMA sponges showed lower phylum-level diversity than typical HMA sponges. Interestingly, each LMA sponge was dominated by a large clade within either Cyanobacteria or different classes of Proteobacteria. The overall similarity of bacterial communities among LMA sponges determined by operational taxonomic unit and UniFrac analysis was low. Also the number of sponge-specific clusters, which indicate bacteria specifically associated with sponges and which are numerous in HMA sponges, was low. A biogeographical or host-dependent distribution pattern was not observed. In conclusion, bacterial community profiles of LMA sponges are clearly different from profiles of HMA sponges and, remarkably, each LMA sponge seems to harbour its own unique bacterial community. © 2012 Federation of European Microbiological Societies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology