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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011, Article ID 969173, 9 pages
Research Article

The Effect of a Sublethal Temperature Elevation on the Structure of Bacterial Communities Associated with the Coral Porites compressa

1School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, P.O. Box 1346, Kaneohe, HI 96744, USA
2Department of Zoology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
3Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Received 15 July 2010; Accepted 30 September 2010

Academic Editor: Kim Selkoe

Copyright © 2011 Jennifer L. Salerno et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Evidence points to a link between environmental stressors, coral-associated bacteria, and coral disease; however, few studies have examined the details of this relationship under tightly controlled experimental conditions. To address this gap, an array of closed-system, precision-controlled experimental aquaria were used to investigate the effects of an abrupt 1°C above summer ambient temperature increase on the bacterial community structure and photophysiology of Porites compressa corals. While the temperature treatment rapidly impacted the photophysiology of the coral host, it did not elicit a statistically significant shift in bacterial community structure from control, untreated corals as determined by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of 16S rRNA genes. Two of three coral colonies harbored more closely related bacterial communities at the time of collection and, despite statistically significant shifts in bacterial community structure for both control and treatment corals during the 10-day acclimation period, maintained this relationship over the course of the experiment. The experimental design used in this study proved to be a robust, reproducible system for investigating coral microbiology in an aquarium setting.