AB 16:209-216 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00443

Microbial abundance in the coelenteron and mucus of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa and in bottom water of the reef environment

Markus G. Weinbauer1,2,*, Julie Ogier3, Cornelia Maier1,2,3

1INSU-CNRS, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche, UMR 7093, BP 28, 06234 Villefranche-sur-Mer Cedex, France
2Université Pierre et Marie-Curie-Paris, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche, UMR 7093, 06230 Villefranche-sur-mer, France
3Department of Biological Oceanography, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: Microorganisms play an important role in coral ecology; however, little is known about cold-water coral (CWC) reefs. Microbial abundance in bottom water of Lophelia pertusa-dominated CWC reefs in the Skagerrak, North Sea, was elevated by ca. 40% for prokaryotes and 70 to 90% for viruses compared to bottom water where no corals were present. This indicates that CWCs influence the microbial food web in bottom water. Furthermore, results suggest that microorganisms contributed significantly to the stock of organic nitrogen (13%) and organic phosphorus (32%) in bottom water. Prokaryotic abundances in the coelenteron of freshly collected corals were (2.0 ± 0.2) × 107 cells ml−l and viral abundances were (4.0 ± 0.6) × 107 particles ml−l. Prokaryotic abundances in coral mucus were (7.5 ± 0.7) × 107 cells ml−l and viral abundances were (1.7 ± 0.3) × 108 particles ml−l. Onboard incubations with elevated prokaryotic and viral abundances in the incubation water indicated that (1) corals accumulate microorganisms in the coelenteron as a potential food source and (2) control mechanisms exist for the abundance of prokaryotic cells and viral particles in the mucus. Our data suggest that L. pertusa controls microbial biomass in the CWC reef environment and coral microhabitats.


KEY WORDS: Cold-water coral · Microbial abundance · Lophelia pertusa · Viruses · Prokaryotes · Bacteria · Reefs


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Cite this article as: Weinbauer MG, Ogier J, Maier C (2012) Microbial abundance in the coelenteron and mucus of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa and in bottom water of the reef environment. Aquat Biol 16:209-216. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00443

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