Mixed-mode bacterial transmission in the common brooding coral Pocillopora acuta

Katarina Damjanovic, Patricia Menéndez, Linda L. Blackall, Madeleine J. H. van Oppen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Reef-building corals form associations with a huge diversity of microorganisms, which are essential for the survival and well-being of their host. While the acquisition patterns of Symbiodiniaceae microalgal endosymbionts are strongly linked to the coral's reproductive strategy, few studies have investigated the transmission mode of bacteria, especially in brooding species. Here, we relied on 16S rRNA gene and Internal Transcribed Spacer 2 marker metabarcoding in conjunction with fluorescence in situ hybridisation microscopy to describe the onset of microbial associations in the common brooding coral Pocillopora acuta. We analysed the bacterial and Symbiodiniaceae community composition in five adult colonies, their larvae, and 4-day old recruits. Larvae and recruits inherited Symbiodiniaceae, as well as a small number of bacterial strains, from their parents. Rhodobacteraceae and Endozoicomonas were among the most abundant taxa that were likely maternally transmitted to the offspring. The presence of bacterial aggregates in newly released larvae was observed with confocal microscopy, confirming the occurrence of vertical transmission of bacteria in P. acuta. We concluded that host factors, as well as the environmental bacterial pool influenced the microbiome of P. acuta.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-412
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

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