Recovery of Xestospongia muta and Agelas clathrodes Bacterial Microbiome Since the 2016 Mortality Event at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary



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On July 25, 2016, divers discovered a large localized mortality event at the East Bank of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. This event killed 80% of invertebrates on the site. This sanctuary is a complex ecosystem where sponges play an essential role as members of the reef. The project analyzes the state of recovery of the bacterial microbiome of the sponges Xestospongia muta and Agelas clathrodes, since the 2016 mortality event. During the Fall of 2018, divers collected samples of these sponge species from the East Bank, location of 2016 mortality event, and from the West Bank, unaffected during the mortality. A culture dependent approach was used to determine the microbiome of the sponges. The 16S rRNA gene of the cultures was sequenced to identify the bacteria. Alpha-Proteobacteria and Gamma-Proteobacteria were the most common class of bacteria found in X. muta and A. clathrodes in both the East Bank and the West Bank. A comparison of the 2018 samples to the communities of the 2016 affected East Bank and unaffected East and West Bank will allow us to determine a potential recovery at the level of bacterial symbionts. Since the microbiome data presented only covers years 2016 and 2018, More research in microbial analysis is needed to determine the overall status of the FGBNMS reef and to establish a baseline for normal conditions.



Xestospongia muta Agelas clathrodes sponge culture dependent bacteria