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Sea anemone and clownfish microbiota diversity and variation during the initial steps of symbiosis

Abstract : Clownfishes and sea anemones form an intriguing long-term association, but the mechanism underlying this symbiosis is not well understood. Since clownfishes seem to cover themselves with sea anemone mucus, we investigated the microbiomes of the two partners to search for possible shifts in their compositions. We used a 16S rRNA gene sequencing strategy to study the dynamics of the microbiota during the association between the clownfish Amphiprion ocellaris and its host Heteractis magnifica under laboratory conditions. The experiment conducted in aquaria revealed that both clownfish and sea anemone mucus had specific signatures compared to artificial sea water. The microbiomes of both species were highly dynamic during the initiation of the symbiosis and for up to seven days after contact. Three families of bacteria (Haliangiaceae, Pseudoalteromonadacae, Saprospiracae) were shared between the two organisms after symbiosis. Once the symbiosis had been formed, the clownfishes and sea anemone then shared some communities of their mucus microbiota. This study paves the way for further investigations to determine if similar microbial signatures exist in natural environments, whether such microbial sharing can be beneficial for both organisms, and whether the microbiota is implicated in the mechanisms that protect the clownfish from sea anemone stinging.
Keywords : Symbiosis Biodiversity
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Natacha Roux, Raphaël Lami, Pauline Salis, Kevin Magré, Pascal Romans, et al.. Sea anemone and clownfish microbiota diversity and variation during the initial steps of symbiosis. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9, pp.19491. ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-55756-w⟩. ⟨hal-02468924⟩

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