The surface bacterial community of an Australian kelp shows cross-continental variation and relative stability within regions
FEMS Microbiology Ecology
Oxford University Press
School of Science / Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
Bioplatforms Australia / National Collaborative Research Infrastructure program of Australia / Australian Research Council
Epiphytic microbial communities often have a close relationship with their eukaryotic host, assisting with defence, health, disease prevention and nutrient transfer. Shifts in the structure of microbial communities could therefore have negative effects on the individual host and indirectly impact the surrounding ecosystem, particularly for major habitat-forming hosts, such as kelps in temperate rocky shores. Thus, an understanding of the structure and dynamics of host-associated microbial communities is essential for monitoring and assessing ecosystem changes. Here, samples were taken from the ecologically important kelp, Ecklonia radiata, over a 17-month period, from six different sites in two distinct geographic regions (East and West coasts of Australia), separated by ∼3,300 kms, to understand variation in the kelp bacterial community and its potential environmental drivers. Differences were observed between kelp bacterial communities between the largely disconnected geographical regions. In contrast, within each region and over time the bacterial communities were considerably more stable, despite substantial seasonal changes in environmental conditions.