Image_1_Coral Bacterial-Core Abundance and Network Complexity as Proxies for Anthropogenic Pollution.TIF

Acclimatization via changes in the stable (core) or the variable microbial diversity and/or abundance is an important element in the adaptation of coral species to environmental changes. Here, we explored the spatial-temporal dynamics, diversity and interactions of variable and core bacterial populations associated with the coral Mussismilia hispida and the surrounding water. This survey was performed on five reefs along a transect from the coast (Reef 1) to offshore (Reef 5), representing a gradient of influence of the river mouth, for almost 12 months (4 sampling times), in the dry and rainy seasons. A clear increasing gradient of organic-pollution proxies (nitrogen content and fecal coliforms) was observed from Reef 1 to Reef 5, during both seasons, and was highest at the Buranhém River mouth (Reef 1). Conversely, a clear inverse gradient of the network analysis of the whole bacterial communities also revealed more-complex network relationships at Reef 5. Our data also indicated a higher relative abundance of members of the bacterial core, dominated by Acinetobacter sp., at Reef 5, and higher diversity of site-stable bacterial populations, likely related to the higher abundance of total coliforms and N content (proxies of sewage or organic pollution) at Reef 1, during the rainy season. Thus, the less “polluted” areas may show a more-complex network and a high relative abundance of members of the bacterial core (almost 97% in some cases), resulting in a more-homogeneous and well-established bacteriome among sites/samples, when the influence of the river is stronger (rainy seasons).