Sneed, Jennifer M., Ritson-Williams, Raphael, and Paul, Valerie J. 2015. "Crustose coralline algal species host distinct bacterial assemblages on their surfaces." The ISME journal (9): 2527-2536. https://doi.org/10.1038/ismej.2015.67
Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are important components of many marine ecosystems. They aid in reef accretion and stabilization, create habitat for other organisms, contribute to carbon sequestration and are important settlement substrata for a number of marine invertebrates. Despite their ecological importance, little is known about the bacterial communities associated with CCA or whether differences in bacterial assemblages may have ecological implications. This study examined the bacterial communities on four different species of CCA collected in Belize using bacterial tag-encoded FLX amplicon pyrosequencing of the V1-V3 region of the 16S rDNA. CCA were dominated by Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria and Actinomycetes. At the operational taxonomic unit (OTU) level, each CCA species had a unique bacterial community that was significantly different from all other CCA species. Hydrolithon boergesenii and Titanoderma prototypum, CCA species that facilitate larval settlement in multiple corals, had higher abundances of OTUs related to bacteria that inhibit the growth and/or biofilm formation of coral pathogens. Fewer coral larvae settle on the surfaces of Paragoniolithon solubile and Porolithon pachydermum. These CCA species had higher abundances of OTUs related to known coral pathogens and cyanobacteria. Coral larvae may be able to use the observed differences in bacterial community composition on CCA species to assess the suitability of these substrata for settlement and selectively settle on CCA species that contain beneficial bacteria.