In situ responses of the sponge microbiome to ocean acidification

Climate change is causing rapid changes in reef structure, biodiversity, and function, though most sponges are predicted to tolerate conditions projected for 2100. Sponges maintain intimate relationships with microbial symbionts, with previous studies suggesting that microbial flexibility may be pivotal to success under ocean acidification. We performed a reciprocal transplantation of the coral reef sponges Coelocarteria singaporensis and Stylissa cf. flabelliformis between a control reef site and an adjacent CO2 vent site in Papua New Guinea to explore how the sponge microbiome responds to ocean acidification. Microbial communities of C. singaporensis, which differed initially between sites, did not shift towards characteristic control or vent microbiomes, even though relative abundances of Chloroflexi and Cyanobacteria increased and that of Thaumarchaeota decreased seven months after transplantation to the control site. Microbial communities of S. cf. flabelliformis, which were initially stable between sites, did not respond specifically to transplantation but collectively exhibited a significant change over time, with a relative increase in Thaumarchaeota and decrease in Proteobacteria in all treatment groups. The lack of a community shift upon transplantation to the vent site suggests that microbial flexibility, at least in the adult life-history stage, does not necessarily underpin host survival under ocean acidification.

Kandler N. M., Wahab M. A. A., Noonan S. H., Bell J. J., Davy S. K., Webster N. S. & Luter H. M., 2018. In situ responses of the sponge microbiome to ocean acidification. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. fiy205. doi:10.1093/femsec/fiy205. Article (subscription required).

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