MEPS 273:89-96 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps273089

Coral-associated Archaea

Linda Wegley1, Yanan Yu1, Mya Breitbart1, Veronica Casas1, David I. Kline1,2,3, Forest Rohwer1,4,*

1Department of Biology, LS316, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, California 92182-4614, USA
2University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California 92093-0202, USA
3Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 2072, Balboa, Panama
4Center for Microbial Sciences, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, California 92182, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The coral holobiont includes the coral, zooxanthellae, fungi, endolithic algae, and >30 species of Bacteria. Using culture-independent techniques, we now show that Archaea are also abundant and widespread on corals. Sequence analyses of Archaea on 3 species of Caribbean corals revealed that coral-associated Archaea are novel, diverse, and include representatives from both the Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota. Unlike zooxanthellae and Bacteria, the Archaea do not appear to form species-specific associations with reef-building corals. Fluorescent in situ hybridizations with peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probes showed that Archaea were present at >107 cells cm-2 on Porites astreoides, comprising nearly half of the prokaryotic community. This study and one by Kellogg (Mar Ecol Prog Ser 273:81-88) show that Archaea are abundant, diverse, and potentially important components of the coral holobiont.


KEY WORDS: Coral · Archaea · 16S rDNA · Fluorescent in situ hybridization · FISH · Peptide nucleic acid probe · PNA


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