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Publication . Article . 2008

Microbial ecology of four coral atolls in the Northern Line Islands

Elizabeth A. Dinsdale; Olga Pantos; Steven Smriga; Robert Edwards; Florence Angly; Linda Wegley; Mark Hatay; +11 Authors
Open Access
Published: 27 Feb 2008
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Country: Spain

Microbes are key players in both healthy and degraded coral reefs. A combination of metagenomics, microscopy, culturing, and water chemistry were used to characterize microbial communities on four coral atolls in the Northern Line Islands, central Pacific. Kingman, a small uninhabited atoll which lies most northerly in the chain, had microbial and water chemistry characteristic of an open ocean ecosystem. On this atoll the microbial community was equally divided between autotrophs (mostly Prochlorococcus spp.) and heterotrophs. In contrast, Kiritimati, a large and populated (~5500 people) atoll, which is most southerly in the chain, had microbial and water chemistry characteristic of a near-shore environment. On Kiritimati, there were 10 times more microbial cells and virus-like particles in the water column and these microbes were dominated by heterotrophs, including a large percentage of potential pathogens. Culturable Vibrios were common only on Kiritimati. The benthic community on Kiritimati had the highest prevalence of coral disease and lowest coral cover. The middle atolls, Palmyra and Tabuaeran, had intermediate densities of microbes and viruses and higher percentages of autotrophic microbes than either Kingman or Kiritimati. The differences in microbial communities across atolls could reflect variation in 1) oceaonographic and/or hydrographic conditions or 2) human impacts associated with land-use and fishing. The fact that historically Kingman and Kiritimati did not differ strongly in their fish or benthic communities (both had large numbers of sharks and high coral cover) suggest an anthropogenic component in the differences in the microbial communities. Kingman is one of the world's most pristine coral reefs, and this dataset should serve as a baseline for future studies of coral reef microbes. Obtaining the microbial data set, from atolls is particularly important given the association of microbes in the ongoing degradation of coral reef ecosystems worldwide.

17 páginas, 1 tablas, 8 figuras.

Peer reviewed

Subjects by Vocabulary

Medical Subject Headings: fungi geographic locations technology, industry, and agriculture biochemical phenomena, metabolism, and nutrition

Library of Congress Subject Headings: lcsh:Medicine lcsh:R lcsh:Science lcsh:Q

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Benthic zone Geography Anthozoa biology.organism_classification biology Coral reef geography.geographical_feature_category Ecology Microbial ecology Atoll Marine biology Coral Environmental issues with coral reefs


Animal Diseases, Animals, Anthozoa, Ecosystem, Geography, Humans, Marine Biology, Water, Water Microbiology, Research Article, Genetics and Genomics, Ecology/Environmental Microbiology, Ecology/Marine and Freshwater Ecology, Genetics and Genomics/Functional Genomics, Multidisciplinary

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