Major similarities in the bacterial communities associated with lesioned and healthy Fungiidae corals

Amy Apprill, Konrad Hughen, Tracy Mincer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Cultivation-based studies have demonstrated that yellow-band disease (YBD), a lesion-producing ailment affecting diverse species of coral, is caused by a consortium of Vibrio spp. This study takes the first cultivation-independent approach to examine the whole bacterial community associated with YBD-like lesioned corals. Two species of Fungiidae corals, Ctenactis crassa and Herpolitha limax, displaying YBD-like lesions were examined across diverse reefs throughout the Red Sea. Using a pyrosequencing approach targeting the V1-V3 regions of the SSU rRNA gene, no major differences in bacterial community composition or diversity were identified between healthy and lesioned corals of either species. Indicator species analysis did not find Vibrio significantly associated with the lesioned corals. However, operational taxonomic units belonging to the Ruegeria genus of Alphaproteobacteria and NS9 marine group of Flavobacteria were significantly associated with the lesioned corals. The most striking trend of this dataset was that reef location was found to be the most significant influence on the coral-bacterial community. It is possible that more pronounced lesion-specific bacterial signatures might have been concealed by the strong influence of environmental conditions on coral-bacteria. Overall, this study demonstrates inconsistencies between cultivation-independent and cultivation-based studies regarding the role of specific bacteria in coral diseases. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Society for Applied Microbiology.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2063-2072
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 21 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): USA 00002
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to J. Cervino for lesion identification, K. Furby, J. Ossolinski, J. Kneeland and W. Bernstein for sample collections, and the crew of the M/V Dream Island. We thank K. Selph of the UH SOEST flow cytometry facility for cell enumeration, J. Jennings of Oregon State University for inorganic nutrient analysis, and C. Wright and the University of Illinois W. M. Keck Center for Comparative and Functional Genomics for sequencing. The authors acknowledge the faculty of the 2011 MBL hosted STAMPS course for insight into sequencing data analysis and two insightful reviewers for their comments on this manuscript. This research was supported by a WHOI Ocean Life Institute postdoctoral scholar fellowship to A. Apprill, and by Award No. USA 00002 to K. Hughen made by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Major similarities in the bacterial communities associated with lesioned and healthy Fungiidae corals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this