Bacteria associated with the bleached and cave coral Oculina patagonica

Omry Koren, Eugene Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relative abundance of bacteria in the mucus and tissues of Oculina patagonica taken from bleached and cave (azooxanthellae) corals was determined by analyses of the 16S rRNA genes from cloned libraries of extracted DNA and from isolated colonies. The results were compared to previously published data on healthy O. patagonica. The bacterial community of bleached, cave, and healthy corals were completely different from each other. A tight cluster (>99.5% identity) of bacteria, showing 100% identity to Acinetobacter species, dominated bleached corals, comprising 25% of the 316 clones sequenced. The dominant bacterial cluster found in cave corals, representing 29% of the 97 clones sequenced, showed 98% identity to an uncultured bacterium from the Great Barrier Reef. Vibrio splendidus was the most dominant species in healthy O. patagonica. The culturable bacteria represented 0.1-1.0% of the total bacteria (SYBR Gold staining) of the corals. The most abundant culturable bacteria in bleached, cave, and healthy corals were clusters that most closely matched Microbulbifer sp., an α-proteobacterium previously isolated from healthy corals and an α-protobacterium (AB026194), respectively. Three generalizations emerge from this study on O. patagonica: (1) More bacteria are associated with coral tissue than mucus; (2) tissue and mucus populations are different; (3) bacterial populations associated with corals change dramatically when corals lack their symbiotic zooxanthellae, either as a result of the bleaching disease or when growing in the absence of light.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-529
Number of pages7
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2008


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