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Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01168

The composition, diversity and predictive metabolic profiles of bacteria associated with the gut digesta of five sea urchins in Luhuitou fringing reef (northern South China Sea)

 Qiucui Yao1, 2, 3, 4,  Kefu Yu1, 2*, Jiayuan Liang1, 2,  Yinghui Wang1, 2, Baoqing Hu4, Xueyong Huang1, 2,  Biao Chen1, 2 and  Zhenjun Qin1, 2
  • 1Guangxi Laboratiry on the Study of Coral Reefs in the South China Sea, China
  • 2School of Marine Sciences, Guangxi University, China
  • 3College of Forestry, Guangxi University, China
  • 4Key Laboratory of Beibu Gulf Environment Change and Resources Use, Ministry of Education, China

Sea urchins strongly affect reef ecology, and the bacteria associated with their gut digesta have not been well studied in coral reefs. In the current study, we analyze the bacterial composition of five sea urchin species collected from Luhuitou fringing reef, namely Stomopneustes variolaris, Diadema setosum, Echinothrix calamaris, Diadema savignyi, and Tripneustes gratilla, using high-throughput 16S rRNA gene-based pyrosequencing. Propionigenium, Prolixibacter, and Photobacterium were found to be the dominant bacterial genera in all five species. Interestingly, four sea urchin species, including S. variolaris, D. setosum, E. calamaris and D. savignyi, displayed a higher mean total abundance of the three bacterial genera (69.72 ± 6.49%) than T. gratilla (43.37 ± 13.47%). Diversity analysis indicated that the gut digesta of sea urchin T. gratilla displayed a higher bacterial α-diversity compared with the other four species. PCoA showed that the four groups representing D. setosum, D. savignyi, E. calamaris, and S. variolaris were overlapping, but distant from the group representing T. gratilla. Predictive metagenomics performed by PICRUSt revealed that the abundances of genes involved in amino acid metabolism and metabolism of terpenoid and polyketide were higher in T. gratilla, while those involved in carbohydrate metabolism were higher in the other four sea urchin species. Therefore, our results indicated that the composition, diversity and predictive metabolic profiles of bacteria associated with the gut digesta of T. gratilla were significantly different from those of the other four sea urchin species in Luhuitou fringing reef.

Keywords: sea urchin, gut digesta bacteria, coral reef, degradation, restoration

Received: 01 Nov 2018; Accepted: 07 May 2019.

Edited by:

Suhelen Egan, University of New South Wales, Australia

Reviewed by:

Raquel Peixoto, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Suzanne Dufour, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada  

Copyright: © 2019 Yao, Yu, Liang, Wang, Hu, Huang, Chen and Qin. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Kefu Yu, Guangxi Laboratiry on the Study of Coral Reefs in the South China Sea, Nanning, China,