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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 74:251-262 (2015)  -  DOI:

Influence of local environmental variables on the viral consortia associated with the coral Montipora capitata from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, USA

Scott A. Lawrence1, Shaun P. Wilkinson1, Joanne E. Davy1, William N. S. Arlidge1, Gareth J. Williams2, William H. Wilson3,5, Greta S. Aeby4, Simon K. Davy1,*

1School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
2Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 8602 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, California 92037, USA
3Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, 60 Bigelow Drive, PO Box 380, East Boothbay, Maine 04544, USA
4Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, PO Box 1346, Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744, USA
5Present address: Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth, PL1 3DH, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Coral-associated viruses are a component of the coral holobiont that have received attention only relatively recently. Given the global increase in the prevalence of coral disease, and the lack of positively identified etiological agents for many diseases, these virus consortia require increased investigation. Little is known about the viruses that are naturally associated with coral reefs and how they are affected by the local environment. In the present study, a short-term analysis of viral consortia associated with the coral Montipora capitata in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, USA, was carried out to determine the environmental factors influencing their composition. Coral surface microlayer (CSM) and seawater samples collected at 4 sites with a range of environmental characteristics were analyzed using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and relative abundances of virus-like particle (VLP) morphotypes were correlated with environmental measurements. Relative proportions of several CSM-associated VLP types, including phages and filamentous VLPs, were correlated with water temperature, turbidity and chlorophyll a levels. In seawater samples, turbidity and temperature showed the strongest correlation, altering the proportion of Podoviridae-like, Geminiviridae-like and putative Archaeal viruses, among others. Overall VLP consortium composition differed significantly between the CSM and seawater only at the more degraded sites, suggesting that human activity may be affecting coral reef-associated virus consortia.

KEY WORDS: Corals · Virus · Environmental drivers · Turbidity · Chlorophyll

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Cite this article as: Lawrence SA, Wilkinson SP, Davy JE, Arlidge WNS and others (2015) Influence of local environmental variables on the viral consortia associated with the coral Montipora capitata from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, USA. Aquat Microb Ecol 74:251-262.

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