Oceanographic habitat and the coral microbiomes of urban-impacted reefs

Stephanie M. Rosales, Christopher Sinigalliano, Maribeth Gidley, Paul R. Jones, Lewis J. Gramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Coral reefs are in decline worldwide. In response to this habitat loss, there are efforts to grow, outplant, and restore corals in many regions. The physical oceanographic habitat of corals-such as sea temperature, waves, ocean currents, and available light-is spatially heterogeneous. We therefore hypothesize that outplant location may affect microbiomes, and ultimately, coral health and restoration success. We evaluated the influence of the physical oceanographic habitat on microbes in wild Porites astreoides and Siderastrea siderea. Tissue samples were collected at four Florida reefs in March, June, and September of 2015. We estimated oceanographic conditions from moored instruments, diver observations, remote sensing data, and numerical models. We analyzed microbiomes using amplicon 16S rRNA highthroughput sequencing data. We found microbial alpha-diversity negatively correlated with in situ sea temperature (which represented both the annual cycle and upwelling), as well as modeled alongshore currents, in situ sea-level, and modeled tide. Microbial beta-diversity correlated positively with significant wave height and alongshore currents from models, remotely-sensed relative turbidity, and in situ temperature. We found that archaea from the order Marine Group II decrease with increases in significant wave height, suggesting that this taxon may be influenced by waves. Also, during times of high wave activity, the relative abundance of bacteria from the order Flavobacteriales increases, which may be due to resuspension and cross-shelf transport of sediments. We also found that bacteria from the order SAR86 increase in relative abundance with increased temperature, which suggests that this taxon may play a role in the coral microbiome during periods of higher temperature. Overall, we find that physical oceanographic variability correlates with the structure of these coral microbiomes in ways that could be significant to coral health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere7552
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2019


  • Archaea
  • Bacteria
  • Currents
  • Oceanography
  • Temperature
  • Tides
  • Turbidity
  • Waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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