The cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa provides important habitat to many deep-sea fishes and invertebrates. Studies of the microbial taxa associated with L. pertusa thus far have focused on bacteria, neglecting the microeukaryotic members. This is the first study to culture fungi from living L. pertusa and to investigate carbon source utilization by the fungal associates. Twenty-seven fungal isolates from seven families, including both filamentous and yeast morphotypes, were cultured from healthy L. pertusa colonies collected from the northern Gulf of Mexico, the West Florida Slope, and the western Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast. Isolates from different sites were phylogenetically closely related, indicating these genera are widely distributed in association with L. pertusa. Biolog™ Filamentous Fungi microtiter plates were employed to determine the functional capacity of a subset of isolates to grow on varied carbon sources. While four of the isolates exhibited no growth on any provided carbon source, the rest (n=10) grew on 8.3–66.7% of carbon sources available. Carbohydrates, carboxylic acids, and amino acids were the most commonly metabolized carbon sources, with overlap between the carbon sources used and amino acids found in L. pertusa mucus. This study represents the first attempt to characterize a microeukaryotic group associated with L. pertusa. However, the functional role of fungi within the coral holobiont remains unclear.
Additional Publication Details
Cultured fungal associates from the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa
Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers