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Syst Appl Microbiol. 2017 Sep;40(6):370-382. doi: 10.1016/j.syapm.2017.05.006. Epub 2017 Jun 15.

Rhodobacteraceae on the marine brown alga Fucus spiralis are abundant and show physiological adaptation to an epiphytic lifestyle.

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Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany.
Göttingen Genomics Laboratory, Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, Georg-August University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.
Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, University of Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany. Electronic address:


Macroalgae harbour specific microbial communities on their surface that have functions related to host health and defence. In this study, the bacterial biofilm of the marine brown alga Fucus spiralis was investigated using 16S rRNA gene amplicon-based analysis and isolation of bacteria. Rhodobacteraceae (Alphaproteobacteria) were the predominant family constituting 23% of the epibacterial community. At the genus level, Sulfitobacter, Loktanella, Octadecabacter and a previously undescribed cluster were most abundant, and together they comprised 89% of the Rhodobacteraceae. Supported by a specific PCR approach, 23 different Rhodobacteraceae-affiliated strains were isolated from the surface of F. spiralis, which belonged to 12 established and three new genera. For seven strains, closely related sequences were detected in the 16S rRNA gene dataset. Growth experiments with substrates known to be produced by Fucus spp. showed that all of them were consumed by at least three strains, and vitamin B12 was produced by 70% of the isolates. Since growth of F. spiralis depends on B12 supplementation, bacteria may provide the alga with this vitamin. Most strains produced siderophores, which can enhance algal growth under iron-deficient conditions. Inhibiting properties against other bacteria were only observed when F. spiralis material was present in the medium. Thus, the physiological properties of the isolates indicated adaption to an epiphytic lifestyle.


Fucus spiralis; North Sea; Rhodobacteraceae; Roseobacter group; Vitamin B(12)

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