Send to

Choose Destination
Biol Lett. 2020 Feb;16(2):20190738. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2019.0738. Epub 2020 Feb 5.

Host identity and symbiotic association affects the taxonomic and functional diversity of the clownfish-hosting sea anemone microbiome.

Author information

Division of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, USA.
Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, USA.
Department of BioSciences, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA.
Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA.


All eukaryotic life engages in symbioses with a diverse community of bacteria that are essential for performing basic life functions. In many cases, eukaryotic organisms form additional symbioses with other macroscopic eukaryotes. The tightly linked physical interactions that characterize many macroscopic symbioses create opportunities for microbial transfer, which likely affects the diversity and function of individual microbiomes, and may ultimately lead to microbiome convergence between distantly related taxa. Here, we sequence the microbiomes of five species of clownfish-hosting sea anemones that co-occur on coral reefs in the Maldives. We test the importance of evolutionary history, clownfish symbiont association, and habitat on the taxonomic and predicted functional diversity of the microbiome, and explore signals of microbiome convergence in anemone taxa that have evolved symbioses with clownfishes independently. Our data indicate that host identity and clownfish association shapes the majority of the taxonomic diversity of the clownfish-hosting sea anemone microbiome, and predicted functional microbial diversity analyses demonstrate a convergence among host anemone microbiomes, which reflect increased functional diversity over individuals that do not host clownfishes. Further, we identify upregulated predicted microbial functions that are likely affected by clownfish presence. Taken together our study potentially reveals an even deeper metabolic coupling between clownfishes and their host anemones, and what could be a previously unknown mutualistic benefit to anemones that are symbiotic with clownfishes.


clownfish; coral reef; microbiome; sea anemone; symbiosis


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center