Phylogenetic diversity of bacteria associated with the mucus of Red Sea corals.FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2008 May; 64(2):187-98.FM
Coral reefs are the most biodiverse and biologically productive of all marine ecosystems. Corals harbor diverse and abundant prokaryotic communities. However, little is known about the diversity of coral-associated bacterial communities. Mucus is a characteristic product of all corals, forming a coating over their polyps. The coral mucus is a rich substrate for microorganisms. Mucus was collected with a procedure using sterile cotton swabs that minimized contamination of the coral mucus by surrounding seawater. We used molecular techniques to characterize and compare the bacterial assemblages associated with the mucus of the solitary coral Fungia scutaria and the massive coral Platygyra lamellina from the Gulf of Eilat, northern Red Sea. The bacterial communities of the corals F. scutaria and P. lamellina were found to be diverse, with representatives within the Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria and Epsilonproteobacteria, as well as the Actinobacteria, Cytophaga-Flavobacter/Flexibacter-Bacteroides group, Firmicutes, Planctomyces, and several unclassified bacteria. However, the total bacterial assemblage of these two corals was different. In contrast to the bacterial communities of corals analyzed in previous studies by culture-based and culture-independent approaches, we found that the bacterial clone libraries of the coral species included a substantial proportion of Actinobacteria. The current study further supports the finding that bacterial communities of coral mucus are diverse.