Microbial consortia increase thermal tolerance of corals

Publisher:
Springer-Verlag
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Marine Biology, 2012, 159 pp. 1763 - 1771
Issue Date:
2012-01
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This study examined the response of a coral holobiont to thermal stress when the bacterial community was treated with antibiotics. Colonies of Pocillopora damicornis were exposed to broad and narrow-spectrum antibiotics targeting coral-associated a and c-Proteobacteria. Corals were gradually heated from the control temperature of 26 to 31 C, and measurements were made of host, zooxanthellar and microbial condition. Antibiotics artificially reduced the abundance and activity of bacteria, but had minimal effect on zooxanthellae photosynthetic efficiency or host tissue protein content. Heated corals without antibiotics showed significant declines in FV/FM, typical of thermal stress. However, heated corals treated with antibiotics showed severe tissue loss in addition to a decline in FV/ FM. This study demonstrated that a disruption to the microbial consortium diminished the resilience of the holobiont. Corals exposed to antibiotics under control temperature did not bleach, suggesting that temperature may be an important factor influencing the activity, diversity and ecological function of the holobiont bacterial community.
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