Biogeographic variation in the microbiome of the ecologically important sponge, Carteriospongia foliascens

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Luter, HM, Widder, S, Botté, ES, Wahab, MA, Whalan, S, Moitinho-Silva, L, Thomas, T & Webster, NS 2015, 'Biogeographic variation in the microbiome of the ecologically important sponge, Carteriospongia foliascens', Peej,

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Sponges are well known for hosting dense and diverse microbial communities, but how these associations vary with biogeography and environment is less clear. Here we compared the microbiome of an ecologically important sponge species, Carteriospongia foliascens, over a large geographic area and identified environmental factors likely responsible for driving microbial community differences between inshore and offshore locations using co-occurrence networks (NWs). The microbiome of C. foliascens exhibited exceptionally high microbial richness, with more than 9,000 OTUs identified at 97% sequence similarity. A large biogeographic signal was evident at the OTU level despite similar phyla level diversity being observed across all geographic locations. The C. foliascens bacterial community was primarily comprised of Gammaproteobacteria (34.2% ± 3.4%) and Cyanobacteria (32.2% ± 3.5%), with lower abundances of Alphaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, unidentified Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria. Co-occurrence NWs revealed a consistent increase in the proportion of Cyanobacteria over Bacteroidetes between turbid inshore and oligotrophic offshore locations, suggesting that the specialist microbiome of C. foliascens is driven by environmental factors.