Host‐association as major driver of microbiome structure and composition in Red Sea seagrass ecosystems

N Garcias‐Bonet; VM Eguíluz; R Díaz‐Rúa; CM Duarte
Environmental Microbiology 23, 2021-2034 (2021)

The role of the microbiome in sustaining seagrasses has recently been highlighted. However, our understanding of the seagrass microbiome lacks behind that of other organisms. Here, we analyse the endophytic and total bacterial communities of leaves, rhizomes, and roots of six Red Sea seagrass species and their sediments. The structure of seagrass bacterial communities revealed that the 1% most abundant OTUs accounted for 87.9% and 74.8% of the total numbers of reads in sediment and plant tissue samples, respectively. We found taxonomically distinct bacterial communities in vegetated and bare sediments. Yet, our results suggest that lifestyle (i.e. free-living or host-association) is the main driver of bacterial community composition. Seagrass bacterial communities were tissue- and species-specific and differed from those of surrounding sediments. We identified OTUs belonging to genera related to N and S cycles in roots, and members of Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Firmicutes phyla as particularly enriched in root endosphere. The finding of highly similar OTUs in well-defined sub-clusters by network analysis suggests the co-occurrence of highly connected key members within Red Sea seagrass bacterial communities. These results provide key information towards the understanding of the role of microorganisms in seagrass ecosystem functioning framed under the seagrass holobiont concept.

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