Image_1_Correlations Between Prokaryotic Microbes and Stress-Resistant Algae in Different Corals Subjected to Environmental Stress in Hong Kong.JPEG
Coral reefs are extremely vulnerable to global climate change, as evidenced by increasing bleaching events. Previous studies suggest that both algal and microbial partners benefit coral hosts, but the nature of interactions between Symbiodiniaceae and prokaryotic microbes and their effects on coral hosts remains unclear. In the present study, we examined correlations between Symbiodiniaceae and prokaryotic microbes in Montipora spp. and Porites lutea sampled from two sites in Hong Kong with contrasting environmental conditions in March and October 2014. The results showed that the prokaryotic microbial communities had adaptable structures in both Montipora spp. and P. lutea, and environmental conditions had greater effects on the algal/microbial communities in Montipora spp. than in P. lutea. Further network analysis revealed a greater number of prokaryotic microbes were significantly correlated with potentially stress-resistant Symbiodiniaceae in P. lutea than in Montipora spp. Stress-resistant Symbiodiniaceae played more important roles in the community and in the algal–microbial correlations in P. lutea than in Montipora spp. Since P. lutea is faring better in Hong Kong as the seawater temperature gradually increases, the results suggest that the correlations between stress-resistant algae and prokaryotic microbes could provide a compensation mechanism allowing coral hosts to adapt to higher temperatures, particularly as the prokaryotic microbes correlated with Symbiodiniaceae provide the ecological functions of photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation.