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Microorganisms 2022 Jan 19;102:. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms10020207.
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Significant Changes in Bacterial Communities Associated with Pocillopora Corals Ingestion by Crown-of-Thorns Starfish: An Important Factor Affecting the Coral's Health.

Qin Z , Yu K , Chen S , Chen B , Yao Q , Yu X , Pan N , Wei X .

Coral ingestion by crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) is an important cause of coral reef degradation, although the impacts of COTS feeding on coral-associated microbial communities are not well understood. Therefore, in this study, we analyzed the coral tissue-weight, Symbiodiniaceae density (SD), bacterial community composition, and the predicted functions of bacterial genes associated with Pocillopora corals in healthy portions and feeding scars, following COTS feeding. Coral tissue-weight loss rate in the feeding scars was 71.3-94.95%. The SDs were significantly lower in the feeding scars, and the SD-loss rate was 92.05% ± 2.12%. The relative abundances of bacterial communities associated with Pocillopora corals after COTS feeding changed significantly and were almost completely reorganized at the phylum and genus levels. Analysis of the microbial metagenomic-functional capacities showed that numerous physiological functions of the coral-bacterial holobionts in the feeding scars were different, including amino acid metabolism, xenobiotic biodegradation and metabolism, lipid metabolism, membrane transport, signal transduction, and cell motility, and all these capacities could be corroborated based on metagenomic, transcriptomic or proteomic technologies. Overall, our research suggests that coral holobionts may be destroyed by COTS, and our findings imply that bacterial communities in feeding scars could affect the health of Pocillopora corals.

PubMed ID: 35208662
PMC ID: PMC8879049
Article link: Microorganisms
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