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Microb Ecol. 2013 Nov;66(4):972-85. doi: 10.1007/s00248-013-0267-3. Epub 2013 Aug 4.

Bacterial communities of the gorgonian octocoral Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae.

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Departamento de Química, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, District of Colombia, Colombia.


Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae is a common inhabitant of Caribbean reefs and is a well-known source of diterpenes with diverse biological activities. Notably, this octocoral is the sole source of the pseudopterosin family of anti-inflammatory diterpenes and is harvested to supply commercial demand for these metabolites. We have characterized the composition of the bacterial community associated with P. elisabethae collected from Providencia Island, Colombia, using both culture-dependent and culture-independent approaches. Culture-independent analysis revealed that the bacterial communities were composed of eight phyla, of which Proteobacteria was the most abundant. At the class level, bacterial communities were dominated by Gammaproteobacteria (82-87 %). Additionally, operational taxonomic units related to Pseudomonas and Endozoicomonas species were the most abundant phylotypes consistently associated with P. elisabethae colonies. Culture-dependent analysis resulted in the identification of 40 distinct bacteria classified as Bacilli (15), Actinobacteria (12), Gammaproteobacteria (9), Alphaproteobacteria (3), and Betaproteobacteria (1). Only one of the 40 cultured bacteria was closely related to a dominant phylotype detected in the culture-independent study, suggesting that conventional culturing techniques failed to culture the majority of octocoral-associated bacterial diversity. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first characterization of the bacterial diversity associated with P. elisabethae.

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