Patterns in microbiome composition differ with ocean acidification in anatomic compartments of the Mediterranean coral Astroides calycularis living at CO2 vents

Highlights

• Coral microbiomes contribute to host acclimatization to environmental change.

• Natural CO2 gradients are a model of global change-induced ocean acidification.

• Non-symbiotic coral Astroides calycularis survives in a natural acidified site.

• Calycularis mucus microbiome is the most affected by low pH conditions.

• Low pH conditions induce changes in microbiome supporting nitrogen cycling.

Abstract

Coral microbiomes, the complex microbial communities associated with the different anatomic compartments of the coral, provide important functions for the host’s survival, such as nutrient cycling at the host’s surface, prevention of pathogens colonization, and promotion of nutrient uptake. Microbiomes are generally referred to as plastic entities, able to adapt their composition and functionality in response to environmental change, with a possible impact on coral acclimatization to phenomena related to climate change, such as ocean acidification. Ocean sites characterized by natural gradients of pCO2 provide models for investigating the ability of marine organisms to acclimatize to decreasing seawater pH. Here we compared the microbiome of the temperate, shallow water, non-symbiotic solitary coral Astroides calycularis that naturally lives at a volcanic CO2 vent in Ischia Island (Naples, Italy), with that of corals living in non-acidified sites at the same island. Bacterial DNA associated with the different anatomic compartments (mucus, tissue and skeleton) of A. calycularis was differentially extracted and a total of 68 samples were analyzed by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. In terms of phylogenetic composition, the microbiomes associated with the different coral anatomic compartments were different from each other and from the microbial communities of the surrounding seawater. Of all the anatomic compartments, the mucus-associated microbiome differed the most between the control and acidified sites. The differences detected in the microbial communities associated to the three anatomic compartments included a general increase in subdominant bacterial groups, some of which are known to be involved in different stages of the nitrogen cycle, such as potential nitrogen fixing bacteria and bacteria able to degrade organic nitrogen. Our data therefore suggests a potential increase of nitrogen fixation and recycling in A. calycularis living close to the CO2 vent system.

Elena B., Erik C., Monica B., Martina P., Nuria T., Matteo S., Simone R., Silvia T., Cristina G. M., Patrizia B., Stefano G. & Marco C., in press. Patterns in microbiome composition differ with ocean acidification in anatomic compartments of the Mediterranean coral Astroides calycularis living at CO2 vents. Science of The Total Environment. Article (subscription required).

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