Microbial communities in the reef water in the lower Gulf of Thailand

Coral reefs are among the most diverse habitats on Earth, but their knowledge on microbes living in such habitats (marine microbiome) remains limited. To gain more insights into coral reef ecosystem in the lower Gulf of Thailand, researchers utilized 16S and 18S rRNA gene-based amplicon-based metagenomics to identify the prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbiota present in the reef water at Kham Island, Trat province, Thailand. The resulting microbiome data was then compared with the published microbiota from different coral reef water and marine sites. 
 
Microbial communities
 
Kham Island’s coral reefs are of the fringing type and remain preserved and abundant. The community similarity indices indicated that the prokaryotic composition from Kham was closely related to that of Kra, another fringing reef site in the lower Gulf of Thailand, followed by the coral reef water microbiota at GS048b (Cooks Bay, Fr. Polynesia), Palmyra (Northern Line Islands, United States) and GS108b (Coccos Keeling, Australia), respectively. Additionally, the microbial eukaryotic populations at Kham was analyzed and compared with the available database at Kra. Both eukaryotic microbiota, in summer and winter seasons, were analyzed. An abundance of Dinophysis acuminata was notable in the summer season which is similar to other reports causing by diarrhoeatic shellfish outbreak in the summer season. The slightly lower biodiversity in Kham than that of Kra might reflect the partly habitat difference due to coastal anthropogenic activities and minor water circulation. Note that Kham locates close to the mainland and is surrounded by islands. The global marine microbiota comparison suggested relatively similar microbial structures among coral sites irrespective of geographical location, supporting the importance of coral-associated marine microbiomes, and Spearman’s correlation analysis between community membership and factors of shore distance and seawater temperature indicated potential correlation of these factors (p-values < 0.05) with Kham, Kra, and some other coral and coastal sites. Together, this study provides the second marine microbial database for the coral reef of the lower Gulf of Thailand, and a comparison of the coral-associated marine microbial diversity among global ocean sites.
 
This study was conducted by BIOTEC research team from Genome Technology Research Unit working in collaboration with researchers from Chulalongkorn University and Marine and Coastal Resources Research Center, Lower Gulf of Thailand.
 
Ref.: Somboonna N, Wilantho A, Monanunsap S, Chavanich S, Tangphatsornruang S, Tongsima S. (2017) Microbial communities in the reef water at Kham Island, lower Gulf of Thailand. PeerJ5:e3625 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3625
 
Posted on 26 February 2018.