Microbial Ecology

, Volume 77, Issue 3, pp 794–807 | Cite as

Global Networks of Symbiodinium-Bacteria Within the Coral Holobiont

  • Rachele BernasconiEmail author
  • Michael Stat
  • Annette Koenders
  • Megan J. Huggett
Host Microbe Interactions


Scleractinian corals form the framework of coral reefs and host abundant and diverse microbial communities that are fundamental to their success. A very limited number of studies have examined the co-occurrence of multiple partners within the coral ‘holobiont’ and their pattern of specificity over different geographical scales. In this study, we explored two molecular sequence datasets representing associations between corals and dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium and between corals and bacteria, across the globe. Through a network theory approach, we characterised patterns of co-occurrences between bacteria and Symbiodinium with 13 coral genera across six water basins. The majority of the bacteria-Symbiodinium co-occurrences were specific to either a coral genus or water basin, emphasising both coral host and environment as important factors driving the diversity of coral assemblages. Yet, results also identified bacteria and Symbiodinium that were shared by multiple coral genera across several water basins. The analyses indicate that shared co-occurrences are independent of the phylogenetic and biogeographic relationship of coral hosts.


16S rRNA Bacteria Co-occurrences Coral reefs ITS2 Network analysis Symbiodinium 



We would like to thank Prof. Jordi Bascompte’s lab members for their useful guidance and advice in the selection of the appropriate methods for the exploration of the data. We also thank the three anonymous reviewers for their feedback.

Supplementary material

248_2018_1255_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (1.1 mb)
Data S1 Heatmap representing all bacteria OTU-Symbiodinium type co-occurrences that were identified across the coral genera network. Each cell in the spreadsheet represents a node in the network shown in Fig. S1. Nodes are characterised by an degree of between zero (co-occurrences not detected across any of the coral genera) and six (co-occurrences shared by six coral genera) (XLSX 1174 kb)
248_2018_1255_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (1.1 mb)
Data S2 Heatmap representing all the bacteria OTU-Symbiodinium type co-occurrences that were identified across six water basins. Each cell in the spreadsheet represents a node in the network shown in Fig. S2. Nodes are characterised by a degree of between zero (co-occurrences not detected across any of the water basins examined) and three (co-occurrences that were shared by three water basins) (XLSX 1138 kb)
248_2018_1255_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (1.1 mb)
Data S3 Heatmap representing all bacteria OTUs-Symbiodinium types co-occurrences that were identified across 13 coral genera and six water basins. Each cell in the spreadsheet represents a node in the network shown in Fig. S3. Nodes are characterised by a degree of between zero (co-occurrences not detected across any of the coral genera and water basins examined) and nine. No degree one is detected as each bacteria-Symbiodinium co-occurrence is located in at least one coral genus and one water basin (degree two) (XLSX 1148 kb)
248_2018_1255_MOESM4_ESM.docx (1.4 mb)
Fig. S1 Bacteria-Symbiodinium co-occurrences identified across 13 coral genera. a) Network of co-occurrences with nodes representing b) bacteria-Symbiodinium co-occurrences (degree one to six) and coral genera. Nodes of degree values above two are show in detail in Fig. 1 (DOCX 1439 kb)
248_2018_1255_MOESM5_ESM.docx (1.2 mb)
Fig. S2 Bacteria-Symbiodinium co-occurrences identified across six water basins. a) Network of co-occurrences with nodes representing b) bacteria-Symbiodinium co-occurrences (degree one to three) and water basins. Nodes of degree values above two are shown in detail in Fig.  3 (DOCX 1194 kb)
248_2018_1255_MOESM6_ESM.docx (1.8 mb)
Fig. S3 Bacteria-Symbiodinium co-occurrences identified across 13 coral genera and six water basins. a) Network of co-occurrences with nodes representing b) bacteria-Symbiodinium co-occurrences (degree two to nine) and the water basins/coral genera. Nodes of degree values above six are shown in detail in Fig. 5 (DOCX 1803 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, School of ScienceEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  2. 2.Trace and Environmental DNA LaboratoryDepartment of Environment and Agriculture Curtin UniversityBentleyWestern Australia
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Centre for Ecosystem Management, School of ScienceEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  5. 5.School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of ScienceThe University of NewcastleOurimbahAustralia

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