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    Microbiome assemblages of plants and animals often show a degree of correlation with host phylogeny; an eco-evolutionary pattern known as phylosymbiosis. Using 16S rRNA gene sequencing to profile the microbiome, paired with COI, 18S rRNA and ITS1 host phylogenies, phylosymbiosis was investigated in four groups of coral reef invertebrates (scleractinian corals, octocorals, sponges and ascidians). We tested three commonly used metrics to evaluate the extent of phylosymbiosis: (a) intraspecific versus interspecific microbiome variation, (b) topological comparisons between host phylogeny and hierarchical clustering (dendrogram) of host-associated microbial communities, and (c) correlation of host phylogenetic distance with microbial community dissimilarity. In all instances, intraspecific variation in microbiome composition was significantly lower than interspecific variation. Similarly, topological congruency between host phylogeny and the associated microbial dendrogram was more significant than would be expected by chance across all groups, except when using unweighted UniFrac distance (compared with weighted UniFrac and Bray-Curtis dissimilarity). Interestingly, all but the ascidians showed a significant positive correlation between host phylogenetic distance and associated microbial dissimilarity. Our findings provide new perspectives on the diverse nature of marine phylosymbioses and the complex roles of the microbiome in the evolution of marine invertebrates.


    Paul A O'Brien, Shangjin Tan, Chentao Yang, Pedro R Frade, Nikos Andreakis, Hillary A Smith, David J Miller, Nicole S Webster, Guojie Zhang, David G Bourne. Diverse coral reef invertebrates exhibit patterns of phylosymbiosis. The ISME journal. 2020 Sep;14(9):2211-2222

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    PMID: 32444811

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