Recent evidence suggests that there is a dynamic microbial biota living on the surface and in the mucus layer of many hermatypic coral species that plays an essential role in coral well-being. Most of the studies published to date emphasize the importance of prokaryotic communities associated with the coral mucus in coral health and disease. In this study, we report the presence of a protist (Fng1) in the mucus of the hermatypic coral Fungia granulosa from the Gulf of Eilat. This protist was identified morphologically and molecularly as belonging to the family Thraustochytridae (phylum Stramenopile, order Labyrinthulida), a group of heterotrophs widely distributed in the marine environment. Morphological examination of this strain revealed a nonmotile organism c. 35 μm in diameter, which is able to thrive on carbon-deprived media, and whose growth and morphology are inoculum dependent. Its fatty acid production profile revealed an array of polyunsaturated fatty acids. A similar protist was also isolated from the mucus of the coral Favia sp. In light of these findings, its possible contribution to the coral holobiont is discussed.
- Coral-eukaryotic association
- Fungia granulosa