Protection & Restoration of Ecosystem Services


A Metagenomic-Based Approach to Determine Microbial Pollution Sources in South Florida Coral Reefs

Overview and Objectives

Microbial contaminants from land-based sources of pollution (LBSP) are considered to be major threats to coral reef ecosystems. Particularly, coastal inlets and treated wastewater effluents are recognized as major pathways for transporting contaminants from lands to costal water, which has significant impact on coral reef ecosystem and human health. These LBSP discharges can contain a variety of microbial contaminants, including fecal indicator bacteria, fecal host marker bacteria, and pathogens to both humans and coral ecosystems. Likewise, such microbial contaminants have been measured in coral reef waters of Florida’s Southeastern coast (from Broward to Palm Beach) using both culture-based methods and the amplification of source- specific genetic makers. These contaminants may potentially impact the health of corals in this region. Thus, understanding the sources of land-based pollution on coral reef mucus or tissues is essential to assess the microbial loading of such contaminants to coastal waters of coral reefs, as well as to develop effective mitigation strategies in a cost-effective manner. In this study, we characterized total microbial community structure in coastal inlets and treated wastewater effluents and in the tissues of coral from Florida’s Southeastern coastal marine ecosystem using a Next-Generation Illumina sequencing approach. The objective of this study is to compare microbial community structure between inlets, effluents, and coral microbial populations and examined the host-specificity and temporal and spatial stability of LBSP in coastal waterways and coral reef mucus or tissues. This work will help inform management as to the degree that LBSP bacterial contaminants may be influencing coral reef microbial communities and how coral symbiont populations may be reacting to LBSP exposure.


Staley, C., C. K. Sinigalliano, M. J. Sadowsky, and C.L. Chun 2016 Land-based Sources of Pollution Influence the Microbiota of Coral Reefs, Environmental Science and Technology In preparation


Sinigalliano, C. K. Goodwin, M. Gidley, I. Enochs, P. Jones., X Serrano, and J. Hendee. Developing A NOAA Coral Genomic Observatory Network (CGON): Preliminary Metagenomic Pilot Studies and CGON Development Plans 13th International Coral Reef Symposium June 19-24, 2016 Honolulu, Hawaii.