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Shedding light on the role of bacteria in corals

A TEAM from Murdoch University, The Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University, examined the diversity and community structure of coral related bacteria on Ningaloo Reef before and after coral spawning.

Using DNA sequencing, three coral species Acropora tenuis, Pocillopora damicornis and the non-reef building coral Tubastrea faulkneri, were examined to explore shifts in coral associated assemblages before and after reproductive activity.

Murdoch University Dr Janja Ceh who led the study says, “Considering corals are particularly vulnerable in their early life stages, it is important to understand which factors can potentially disrupt a successful recruitment, and consequentially, the distribution and survival of corals”.

The study revealed that coral associated bacterial community structure did not shift greatly through the mass spawning event. However, some bacteria did increase in relative abundance after reproduction.

This is the first study to directly compare shifts in coral bacterial associations before and after coral spawning.

“These are likely to play important roles not only in reproduction and larval development, but also in adult corals after spawning,” Dr Ceh says.

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