Hawai'i conservation alliance

2008 Best Student Poster Presentation

An Analysis of the Prokaryotic Community Associated with the Mucus of Montipora patula

Mali‘o Kodis, Nathan Olson
Waiakea High School, Hilo, HI, United States

Coral mucus is the main ecotome, or barrier, between the coral animal and the disease inhibited water column. It has implications to be an important factor in the study of coral population demise due to diseases. This study addresses that lack of research with the first step towards understanding the role of the microbial community associated with Montipora patula in protecting the coral from harmful diseases and pathogens. In this study, the microbial community associated with the mucus of M. patula was identified to consist of a great diversity of bacteria. Gram staining, ribotype analysis, and fluorescence in situ hybridization were used to attain the following results: Gram positive and gram negative bacteria were found to be present within the mucus, and many of the bacteria were found to have known symbiotic relationships with marine organisms, including sea sponge, tubeworms, and other coral species. The implications for further studies are toward effective design of conservation efforts, because exposing coral mucus' microbial community composition is the first step towards studying coral mucus' underlying role in the increasing
devastation of coral disease worldwide.