Sponges are abundant components of coral reefs known for their filtration capabilities and intricate interactions with microbes. They play a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of coral reefs. Humic substances (HS) affect bacterial communities across terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. However, the specific effects of HS on sponge-associated microbial symbionts have largely been neglected. Here, we used a randomized-controlled microcosm setup to investigate the independent and interactive effects of HS, elevated temperature, and UVB radiation on bacterial communities associated with the sponge Chondrilla sp. Our results indicated the presence of a core bacterial community consisting of relatively abundant members, apparently resilient to the tested environmental perturbations, alongside a variable bacterial community. Elevated temperature positively affected the relative abundances of ASVs related to Planctomycetales and members of the families Pseudohongiellaceae and Hyphomonadaceae. HS increased the relative abundances of several ASVs potentially involved in recalcitrant organic matter degradation (e.g., the BD2-11 terrestrial group, Saccharimonadales, and SAR202 clade). There was no significant independent effect of UVB and there were no significant interactive effects of HS, heat, and UVB on bacterial diversity and composition. The significant, independent impact of HS on the composition of sponge bacterial communities suggests that alterations to HS inputs may have cascading effects on adjacent marine ecosystems.

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FEMS Microbiology Ecology

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Staff publications

Stuij, Tamara M, Cleary, Daniel F R, Rocha, Rui J M, Polónia, Ana R M, Silva, Davide A M, Louvado, Antonio, … Gomes, Newton C M. (2024). Impacts of humic substances, elevated temperature, and UVB radiation on bacterial communities of the marine sponge Chondrilla sp. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 100(fiae022). doi:10.1093/femsec/fiae022