Diel population and functional synchrony of microbial communities on coral reefs

Linda Wegley Kelly, Craig E. Nelson, Andreas F. Haas, Douglas S. Naliboff, Sandi Calhoun, Craig A. Carlson, Robert A. Edwards, Michael D. Fox, Mark Hatay, Maggie D. Johnson, Emily L.A. Kelly, Yan Wei Lim, Saichetana Macherla, Zachary A. Quinlan, Genivaldo Gueiros Z. Silva, Mark J.A. Vermeij, Brian Zgliczynski, Stuart A. Sandin, Jennifer E. Smith, Forest Rohwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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On coral reefs, microorganisms are essential for recycling nutrients to primary producers through the remineralization of benthic-derived organic matter. Diel investigations of reef processes are required to holistically understand the functional roles of microbial players in these ecosystems. Here we report a metagenomic analysis characterizing microbial communities in the water column overlying 16 remote forereef sites over a diel cycle. Our results show that microbial community composition is more dissimilar between day and night samples collected from the same site than between day or night samples collected across geographically distant reefs. Diel community differentiation is largely driven by the flux of Psychrobacter sp., which is two-orders of magnitude more abundant during the day. Nighttime communities are enriched with species of Roseobacter, Halomonas, and Alteromonas encoding a greater variety of pathways for carbohydrate catabolism, further illustrating temporal patterns of energetic provisioning between different marine microbes. Dynamic diel fluctuations of microbial populations could also support the efficient trophic transfer of energy posited in coral reef food webs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1691
Number of pages9
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.


  • coral reefs
  • benthic-derived
  • Diel
  • ecosystems
  • microbial populations


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