Coral-associated viruses and bacteria in the Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Type Article
Date 2015
Language English
Author(s) Thu Pham The1, Thuoc Chu Van1, Viet Ha Bui Thi2, Thuy Nguyen Thanh3, Huy Tran Quang3, Ngoc Mai Cung Thi4, Bouvier Corinne5, Brune Justine5, Villeger SebastienORCID5, Bouvier Thierry5, Bettarel Yvan5
Affiliation(s) 1 : Vietnam Acad Sci & Technol, IMER, Haiphong, Vietnam.
2 : Vietnam Natl Univ, Hanoi Univ Sci, Hanoi, Vietnam.
3 : NIHE, Hanoi, Vietnam.
4 : VAST, Inst Biotechnol IBT, Hanoi, Vietnam.
5 : Univ Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, UMR MARBEC, Montpellier, France.
Source Aquatic Microbial Ecology (0948-3055) (Inter-research), 2015 , Vol. 76 , N. 2 , P. 149-161
DOI 10.3354/ame01775
Keyword(s) Viruses, Coral-associated bacteria, Mucus, Symbionts, Coral reefs

Viruses inhabiting the surface mucus layer of scleractinian corals have received little ecological attention so far. Yet they have recently been shown to be highly abundant and could even play a pivotal role in coral health. A fundamental aspect that remains unresolved is whether their abundance and diversity change with the trophic state of their environment. The present study examined the variability in the abundance of viral and bacterial epibionts on 13 coral species collected from 2 different sites in the Ha Long Bay, Vietnam: one station heavily affected by anthropogenic activity (Cat Ba Island) and one protected offshore station (Long Chau Island). In general, viral abundance was significantly higher in coral mucus (mean = 10.6 +/- 2.0 x 10(7) virus-like particles ml(-1)) than in the surrounding water (5.2 +/- 1.3 x 10(7) virus-like particles ml(-1)). Concomitantly, the abundance and community diversity (inferred from phylogenetic and morphological analyses) of their mucosal bacterial hosts strongly differed from their planktonic counterparts. Surprisingly, despite large differences in water quality and nutrient concentrations between Cat Ba and Long Chau, there were no significant differences in the concentrations of epibiotic viruses and bacteria measured in the only 2 coral species (i.e. Pavona decussata and Lobophyllia flabelliformis) that were common at both sites. The ability of corals to shed bacteria to compensate for their fast growth in nutrient-rich mucus is questioned here.

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Thu Pham The, Thuoc Chu Van, Viet Ha Bui Thi, Thuy Nguyen Thanh, Huy Tran Quang, Ngoc Mai Cung Thi, Bouvier Corinne, Brune Justine, Villeger Sebastien, Bouvier Thierry, Bettarel Yvan (2015). Coral-associated viruses and bacteria in the Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Aquatic Microbial Ecology, 76(2), 149-161. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :