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The microbiome of the pelagic tunicate Dolioletta gegenbauri: a potential link between the grazing and microbiala
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  • Tiago Pereira,
  • Tina Walters,
  • Hisham El-Shaffey,
  • Holly Bik,
  • Marc Frischer
Tiago Pereira
University of Georgia
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Tina Walters
Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
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Hisham El-Shaffey
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
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Holly Bik
University of Georgia
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Marc Frischer
Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
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Abstract

Bloom-forming marine gelatinous zooplankton, including the pelagic tunicate Dolioletta gegenbauri, occur circumglobally and have the potential to significantly influence the structure of pelagic marine food webs and biogeochemical cycling through interactions with microbial communities. Using targeted metabarcoding (16S rRNA genes recovering Bacteria/Archaea) and qPCR approaches associated with laboratory-based feeding experiments, we characterized patterns in doliolid gut microbiomes and microbial communities associated with doliolid fecal pellets and the surrounding seawater. The characterization of starved doliolids provides the first description of the doliolid gut microbiome. At the highest taxonomic levels, doliolid-associated bacterial communities are characteristic of marine bacterioplankton communities around the globe and were dominated by representatives of six major bacterial groups including Gammaproteobacteria, Alphaproteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Planctomycetes, Bacteroidia and, Phycisphaerae. Comparison between sample types, however, revealed distinct patterns in diversity and biomass supporting the hypothesis that through their presence and trophic activity, doliolids influence the structure of pelagic food webs and biogeochemical cycling in subtropical continental shelf systems where doliolid blooms are common. Bacteria associated with starved doliolids (representative of the resident doliolid gut microbiome) possessed distinct communities, supporting the hypothesis that doliolids possess a unique but low diversity, low biomass microbiome optimized to support a detrital trophic mode. Among potential core microbiome taxa, the genera Pseudoalteromomas and Shimia were the most abundant, similar to patterns observed in other marine invertebrates. Exploratory bioinformatic analyses of predicted functional genes suggest that doliolids, via their interactions with bacterial communities, may affect important biogeochemical processes including nitrogen, sulfur, and organic matter cycling.
01 Jan 2022Submitted to Molecular Ecology
03 Jan 2022Submission Checks Completed
03 Jan 2022Assigned to Editor
14 Jan 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
30 Apr 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
18 May 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
31 Jul 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
31 Jul 20221st Revision Received
01 Aug 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
11 Aug 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
11 Aug 20222nd Revision Received
15 Aug 2022Editorial Decision: Accept
04 Sep 2022Published in Molecular Ecology. 10.1111/mec.16668