The microbial profile of a tissue necrosis affecting the Atlantic invasive coral Tubastraea tagusensis.
The Southwestern Atlantic rocky reef ecosystems are undergoing significant changes due to suncorals (Tubastraea tagusensis and T. coccinea) invasion. At Búzios Island, on the northern coast of São Paulo State, where the abundance of T. tagusensis is particularly high, some colonies are displaying tissue necrosis, a phenomenon never reported for this invasive nor any other azooxanthellate coral species. Using next-generation sequencing, we sought to understand the relationship between T. tagusensis tissue necrosis and its microbiota. Thus, through amplicon sequencing, we studied both healthy and diseased coral colonies. Results indicate a wide variety of bacteria associated with healthy colonies and an even higher diversity associated with those corals presenting tissue necrosis, which displayed nearly 25% more microorganisms. Also, as the microbial community associated with the seven healthy colonies did not alter composition significantly, it was possible to verify the microbial succession during different stages of tissue necrosis (i.e., initial, intermediate, and advanced). Comparing the microbiome from healthy corals to those in early tissue necrosis suggests 21 potential pathogens, which might act as the promoters of such disease.