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Small core communities and high variability in bacteria associated with the introduced ascidian Styela plicata

AuthorsErwin, Patrick M.; Pineda, M. C. ; Webster, Nicole; Turon, Xavier ; López-Legentil, S.
KeywordsIntroduced species
Invasive potential
Electron microscopy
Issue Date2013
CitationSymbiosis 59 : 35–46 (2013)
AbstractThe solitary ascidian Styela plicata is an introduced species in harbors of temperate and tropical oceans around the world. The invasive potential of this species has been studied through reproductive biology and population genetics but no study has yet examined the microbial diversity associated with this ascidian and its potential role in host ecology and invasiveness. Here, we used 16S rRNA gene tag pyrosequencing and transmission electron microscopy to characterize the abundance, diversity and hostspecificity of bacteria associated with 3 Mediterranean individuals of S. plicata. Microscopy revealed low bacterial abundance in the inner tunic and their absence from gonad tissues, while pyrosequencing revealed a high diversity of S. plicata-associated bacteria (284 OTUs from 16 microbial phyla) in the inner tunic. The core symbiont community was small and consisted of 16 OTUs present in all S. plicata hosts. This core community included a recently described ascidian symbiont (Hasllibacter halocynthiae) and several known sponge and coral symbionts, including a strictly anaerobic Chloroflexi lineage. Most recovered bacterial OTUs (79.6 %) were present in single S. plicata individuals and statistical analyses of genetic diversity and community structure confirmed high variability of bacterial communities among host individuals. These results suggest that diverse and variable bacterial communities inhabit the tunic of S. plicata, including environmental and host-associated bacterial lineages that appear to be re-established each host generation. We hypothesize that bacterial communities in S. plicata are dynamic and have the potential to aid host acclimation to new habitats by establishing relationships with beneficial, locally sourced bacteria.
Description12 páginas, 2 tablas, 5 figuras.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13199-012-0204-0
Appears in Collections:(CEAB) Artículos
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