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Till Death Do Us Part: Stable Sponge-Bacteria Associations under Thermal and Food Shortage Stresses

AuthorsPita, L.; Erwin, Patrick M.; Turon, Xavier ; López-Legentil, S.
Issue Date28-Nov-2013
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 8(11) : e80307 (2013)
AbstractSporadic mass mortality events of Mediterranean sponges following periods of anomalously high temperatures or longer than usual stratification of the seawater column (i.e. low food availability) suggest that these animals are sensitive to environmental stresses. The Mediterranean sponges Ircinia fasciculata and I. oros harbor distinct, species-specific bacterial communities that are highly stable over time and space but little is known about how anomalous environmental conditions affect the structure of the resident bacterial communities. Here, we monitored the bacterial communities in I. fasciculata (largely affected by mass mortalities) and I. oros (overall unaffected) maintained in aquaria during 3 weeks under 4 treatments that mimicked realistic stress pressures: control conditions (13uC, unfiltered seawater), low food availability (13uC, 0.1 mm-filtered seawater), elevated temperatures (25uC, unfiltered seawater), and a combination of the 2 stressors (25uC, 0.1 mm-filtered seawater). Bacterial community structure was assessed using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). As I. fasciculata harbors cyanobacteria, we also measured chlorophyll a (chl a) levels in this species. Multivariate analysis revealed no significant differences in bacterial T-RFLP profiles among treatments for either host sponge species, indicating no effect of high temperatures and food shortage on symbiont community structure. In I. fasciculata, chl a content did not significantly differ among treatments although TEM micrographs revealed some cyanobacteria cells undergoing degradation when exposed to both elevated temperature and food shortage conditions. Arguably, longer-term treatments (months) could have eventually affected bacterial community structure. However, we evidenced no appreciable decay of the symbiotic community in response to medium-term (3 weeks) environmental anomalies purported to cause the recurrent sponge mortality episodes. Thus, changes in symbiont structure are not likely the proximate cause for these reported mortality events.
Description7 páginas, 4 figuras.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0080307
Appears in Collections:(CEAB) Artículos
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