Phylogenetic diversity of bacteria associated with the mucus of Red Sea corals

Yael Lampert, Dovi Kelman, Yeshayahu Nitzan, Zvy Dubinsky, Adi Behar, Russell T. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coral reefs are the most biodiverse and biologically productive of all marine ecosystems. Corals harbor diverse and abundant prokaryotic communities. However, little is known about the diversity of coral-associated bacterial communities. Mucus is a characteristic product of all corals, forming a coating over their polyps. The coral mucus is a rich substrate for microorganisms. Mucus was collected with a procedure using sterile cotton swabs that minimized contamination of the coral mucus by surrounding seawater. We used molecular techniques to characterize and compare the bacterial assemblages associated with the mucus of the solitary coral Fungia scutaria and the massive coral Platygyra lamellina from the Gulf of Eilat, northern Red Sea. The bacterial communities of the corals F. scutaria and P. lamellina were found to be diverse, with representatives within the Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria and Epsilonproteobacteria, as well as the Actinobacteria, Cytophaga-Flavobacter/Flexibacter-Bacteroides group, Firmicutes, Planctomyces, and several unclassified bacteria. However, the total bacterial assemblage of these two corals was different. In contrast to the bacterial communities of corals analyzed in previous studies by culture-based and culture-independent approaches, we found that the bacterial clone libraries of the coral species included a substantial proportion of Actinobacteria. The current study further supports the finding that bacterial communities of coral mucus are diverse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-198
Number of pages12
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • 16S rRNA gene
  • Clone libraries
  • Coral mucus
  • Coral-associated bacteria
  • Red Sea
  • Uncultured bacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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