Annals of Microbiology

, Volume 69, Issue 8, pp 861–866 | Cite as

A comparison of microeukaryote communities inhabiting sponges and seawater in a Taiwanese coral reef system

  • Daniel Francis Richard ClearyEmail author
Short Communication



Assess microeukaryote community composition in seawater and sponge samples from Taiwanese coral reefs.


In the present study, we used Illumina sequencing to explore the microeukaryote communities of seven biotopes (six sponge species and seawater) sampled in the Penghu archipelago of Taiwan.


Microeukaryote communities were dominated by Dinoflagellates with Dinophyceae and Syndiniales well represented in all biotopes. Other abundant taxa included metazoa, red and green algae and Radiolaria. The only significant differences were a significantly higher relative abundance of Picobiliphyta and Stramenopiles_X in seawater and Metamonada in the sponge Acanthostylotella cornuta. There was also a significant difference in composition among biotopes with samples from sponges and seawater forming distinct clusters. There was, however, no congruence between prokaryote and microeukaryote community composition. After removing all OTUs < 100 sequences, more than 90% of remaining OTUs representing > 99.5% of sequences were shared between sponge and seawater samples.


This data in the present study would appear to suggest that marine microeukaryote communities in sponges are largely derived from the surrounding seawater. Abundant OTUs were also related to organisms previously retrieved from seawater. A number of these OTUs though had relatively low sequence similarity to organisms in GenBank suggesting that more research of the microeukaryote communities in the Penghu archipelago may yield novel organisms in this relatively unexplored area.


Agelasidae Composition Coral reefs Illumina Penghu islands 



Support in the field and lab was provided by Julian Cleary, Floris Cleary, Yusheng Huang, Kate, Ana R.M. Polónia and Nicole J de Voogd.


Financial support was provided to CESAM (UID/AMB/50017 – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007638) and for the project LESS CORAL (PTDC/AAC-AMB/115304/2009) by FCT/MEC through national funds, and co-funding by FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or laboratory animals.

Informed consent

Not applicable.

Supplementary material

13213_2019_1476_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (7 kb)
Supplementary Figure 1 Relative abundance of the most abundant microeukaryote higher taxa in sponges: Ac - Agelas cavernosa, Ar - Acanthostylotella cornuta, He - Hyrtios erectus, Xt - Xestospongia testudinaria, Echinodictyum asperum, Sc - Stylissa carteri, Su - Suberites diversicolor and Wt - water. (PDF 6.94 kb)
13213_2019_1476_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (67 kb)
Supplementary Figure 2 Relative abundance of significantly discriminating OTUs between pairs of biotopes identified using Simper analysis (P < 0.001) and colour-coded according to microeukaryote taxon for Ac - Agelas cavernosa, Ar - Acanthostylotella cornuta, He - Hyrtios erectus, Xt - Xestospongia testudinaria, Ea - Echinodictyum asperum, Sc - Stylissa carteri, Su - Suberites diversicolor and Wt – water. The circle size of the OTU is proportional to the mean percentage of sequences per sample as indicated by the symbol legend in the bottom right corner. (PDF 66.6 kb)
13213_2019_1476_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (12 kb)
Supplementary Figure 3 Heatmap showing the abundance of abundant microeukaryote OTUs (≥ 4000 sequences). The heatmap was generated using the function heatmap2() in the R package gplots ( The OTUs were log-transformed and clustered according to their occurrence by UPGMA hierarchical clustering. Sponge species: Ac - Agelas cavernosa, Ar - Acanthostylotella cornuta, He - Hyrtios erectus, Xt - Xestospongia testudinaria, Ea - Echinodictyum asperum, Sc - Stylissa carteri, Su - Suberites diversicolor and Wt - water. (PDF 11.9 kb)
13213_2019_1476_MOESM4_ESM.xls (20 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 A summary of the samples collected is presented study including the name of the site, the location of the site in the northern or southern Penghu islands, the GPS coordinates, the biotope (host species, sediment or seawater), order and family of the host species. (XLS 20.5 kb)
13213_2019_1476_MOESM5_ESM.xls (78 kb)
Supplementary Table 2 Results of emmeans analysis showing pairwise comparisons of differences in the relative abundances of selected eukaryote higher taxa and the percentage of OTUs100 recorded in seawater as a percentage of total OTUs100 (WtToPr) between biotopes based on the ‘fdr’ test. Estimate (Estimated marginal means), SE (standard error), P (probability), Sig. (Significance): * 0.01 < Pr < 0.05 ** 0.001 < Pr < 0.01; *** Pr < 0.001. Variable: the dependent variable, Contrast: Contrasts between pairs of biotopes, SE: standard error. (XLS 78.5 kb)
13213_2019_1476_MOESM6_ESM.xls (340 kb)
Supplementary Table 3 Results of Simper analysis showing the contribution of microeukaryote OTUs to differences in similarity between pairs of biotopes. Contrast: contrasts between pairs of biotopes. Average: average contribution to overall dissimilarity. Sd: Standard deviation of contribution. Ratio: Average to sd ratio. Ava, Avb: average abundances per biotope. CumSum: ordered cumulative contribution. P: permutation p value. OTUs that contributed significantly to differences are indicated by significance (Sig.): * 0.01 < P < 0.05 ** 0.001 < P < 0.01; *** P < 0.001. (XLS 340 kb)
13213_2019_1476_MOESM7_ESM.xls (14 kb)
Supplementary Table 4 List of abundant (≥ 4000 sequence reads) OTUs and closely related organisms identified using BLAST search. OTU: OTU number; Sum: number of sequence reads; Group: biotope or biotopes where the OTUs were mainly found; Acc: Genbank accession numbers of closely related organisms identified using BLAST; Seq: sequence similarity of these organisms with our representative OTU sequences; Source: isolation source of organisms identified using BLAST. In the Group column the abbreviations stand for sponge species: Ac - Agelas cavernosa, Ar - Acanthostylotella cornuta, He - Hyrtios erectus, Xt - Xestospongia testudinaria, Ea - Echinodictyum asperum, Sc - Stylissa carteri, Su - Suberites diversicolor and Wt – seawater. (XLS 13.5 kb)


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Copyright information

© Università degli studi di Milano 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology & CESAMUniversity of Aveiro, Campus de SantiagoAveiroPortugal
  2. 2.Tropical Island Sustainable Development Research CenterNational Penghu University of Science and TechnologyPenghuTaiwan

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