Microbiome of the southwestern Atlantic invasive scleractinian coral, Tubastraea tagusensis.
Background: Commonly known as sun-coral, Tubastraea tagusensis is an azooxanthellate scleractinian coral that successfully invaded the Southwestern Atlantic causing significant seascape changes. Today it is reported to over 3500 km along the Brazilian coast, with several rocky shores displaying high substrate coverage. Apart from its singular invasiveness capacity, the documentation and, therefore, understanding of the role of symbiotic microorganisms in the sun-coral invasion is still scarce. However, in general, the broad and constant relationship between corals and microorganisms led to the development of co-evolution hypotheses. As such, it has been shown that the microbial community responds to environmental factors, adjustment of the holobiont, adapting its microbiome, and improving the hosts' fitness in a short space of time. Here we describe the microbial community (i.e. Bacteria) associated with sun-coral larvae and adult colonies from a locality displaying a high invasion development. Results: The usage of high throughput sequencing indicates a great diversity of Bacteria associated with T. tagusensis, with Cyanobacteria, Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, Planctomycetes, and Firmicutes corresponding to the majority of the microbiome in all samples. However, T. tagusensis' microbial core consists of only eight genera for colonies, and, within them, three are also present in the sequenced larvae. Overall, the microbiome from colonies sampled at different depths did not show significant differences. The microbiome of the larvae suggests a partial vertical transfer of the microbial core in this species. Conclusion: Although diverse, the microbiome core of adult Tubastraea tagusensis is composed of only eight genera, of which three are transferred from the mother colony to their larvae. The remaining bacteria genera are acquired from the seawater, indicating that they might play a role in the host fitness and, therefore, facilitate the sun-coral invasion in the Southwestern Atlantic.