KAUST DepartmentRed Sea Research Center (RSRC)
Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE) Division
Marine Science Program
Marine Microbial Ecology Research Group
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AbstractIntestinal tracts are among the most densely populated microbial ecosystems. Gut microbiota and their influence on the host have been well characterized in terrestrial vertebrates but much less so in fish. This is especially true for coral reef fishes, which are among the most abundant groups of vertebrates on earth. Surgeonfishes (family: Acanthuridae) are part of a large and diverse family of reef fish that display a wide range of feeding behaviours, which in turn has a strong impact on the reef ecology. Here, we studied the composition of the gut microbiota of nine surgeonfish and three nonsurgeonfish species from the Red Sea. High-throughput pyrosequencing results showed that members of the phylum Firmicutes, especially of the genus Epulopiscium, were dominant in the gut microbiota of seven surgeonfishes. Even so, there were large inter- and intraspecies differences in the diversity of surgeonfish microbiota. Replicates of the same host species shared only a small number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs), although these accounted for most of the sequences. There was a statistically significant correlation between the phylogeny of the host and their gut microbiota, but the two were not completely congruent. Notably, the gut microbiota of three nonsurgeonfish species clustered with some surgeonfish species. The microbiota of the macro- and microalgavores was distinct, while the microbiota of the others (carnivores, omnivores and detritivores) seemed to be transient and dynamic. Despite some anomalies, both host phylogeny and diet were important drivers for the intestinal microbial community structure of surgeonfishes from the Red Sea. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
SponsorsThe research reported here was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. We thank the KAUST Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab and the Bioscience Core Lab for technical assistance. We also extend our thanks to Professor Michael L. Berumen and Tane H. Sinclair-Taylor for assistance with fish sampling, and Dr. Howard Choat, Dr. Andrew Hoey and Dr. Selma Klanten for discussions on coral reef fish diets and surgeonfish phylogeny. We thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript.
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