• Evidence for rapid, tide-related shifts in the microbiome of the coral Coelastrea aspera

      Sweet, Michael J.; Brown, Barbara E.; Dunne, Richard P.; Singleton, Ian; Bulling, Mark T.; University of Derby; Newcastle University; North Highland College; Edinburgh Napier University (Springer, 2017-03-23)
      Shifts in the microbiome of the intertidal coral Coelastrea aspera (formally known as Goniastrea aspera) from Phuket, Thailand, were noted over the course of a 4-d period of spring tides. During this time, corals were naturally exposed to high temperatures, intense solar radiation, sub-aerial exposure and tidally induced water fluxes. Analysis of the 16S microbiome highlighted that the corals harbored both ‘core or stable’ communities and those which appeared to be more ‘transient or sporadic.’ Only relatively few microbial associates were classified as core microbes; the majority were transient or sporadic. Such transient associates were likely to have been governed by tidally induced variations in mucus thickness and water fluxes. Here we report strong shifts in the bacterial community of C. aspera over a short temporal scale. However, we also show significant differences in the timing of shifts between the two age groups of corals studied. More rapid changes (within 2 d of sub-aerial exposure) occurred within the 4-yr-old colonies, but a slightly delayed response was observed in the 10-yr-old colonies, whereby the microbial associates only changed after 4 d. We hypothesize that these shifts are age related and could be influenced by the observed baseline differences in the microbiome of the 4- and 10-yr-old corals, bacteria–bacteria interactions, and/or host energetics.