Microbial Communities Associated with Healthy and White Syndrome-Affected Echinopora lamellosa in Aquaria and Experimental Treatment with the Antibiotic Ampicillin

David Smith, Peter Leary, Jamie Craggs, John Bythell, Michael Sweet

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Abstract

Prokaryotic and ciliate communities of healthy and aquarium White Syndrome (WS)-affected coral fragments were screened using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). A significant difference (R = 0.907, p < 0.001) in 16S rRNA prokaryotic diversity was found between healthy (H), sloughed tissue (ST), WS-affected (WSU) and antibiotic treated (WST) samples. Although 3 Vibrio spp were found inWS-affected samples, two of these species were eliminated following ampicillin treatment, yet lesions continued to advance, suggesting they play a minor or secondary role in the pathogenesis. The third Vibrio sp increased slightly in relative abundance in diseased samples and was abundant in non-diseased samples. Interestingly, a Tenacibaculum sp showed the greatest increase in relative abundance between healthy and WS-affected samples, demonstrating consistently high abundance across all WS-affected and treated samples, suggesting Tenacibaculum sp could be a more likely candidate for pathogenesis in this instance. In contrast to previous studies bacterial abundance did not vary significantly (ANOVA, F2, 6 = 1.000, p = 0.422) between H, ST, WSU or WST. Antimicrobial activity (assessed on Vibrio harveyi cultures) was limited in both H and WSU samples (8.1% ±8.2 and 8.0% ±2.5, respectively) and did not differ significantly (Kruskal-Wallis, χ2 (2) = 3.842, p = 0.146). A Philaster sp, a Cohnilembus sp and a Pseudokeronopsis sp. were present in all WS-affected samples, but not in healthy samples. The exact role of ciliates in WS is yet to be determined, but it is proposed that they are at least responsible for the neat lesion boundary observed in the disease.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0121780
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2015

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