The encrusting sponge Myxilla (Ectyomyxilla) methanophila (Poecilosclerida: Myxillidae) is an epibiont on vestimentiferan tubeworms at hydrocarbon seeps on the upper Louisiana slope of the Gulf of Mexico. It has long been suggested that this sponge harbors methylotrophic bacteria due to its low δ13C value and high methanol dehydrogenase activity, yet the full community of microbial associations in M. methanophila remained uncharacterized. In this study, we sequenced 16S rRNA genes representing the microbial community in M. methanophila collected from two hydrocarbon-seep sites (GC234 and Bush Hill) using both Sanger sequencing and next-generation 454 pyrosequencing technologies. Additionally, we compared the microbial community in M. methanophila to that of the biofilm collected from the associated tubeworm. Our results revealed that the microbial diversity in the sponges from both sites was low but the community structure was largely similar, showing a high proportion of methylotrophic bacteria of the genus Methylohalomonas and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-degrading bacteria of the genera Cycloclasticus and Neptunomonas. Furthermore, the sponge microbial clone library revealed the dominance of thioautotrophic gammaproteobacterial symbionts in M. methanophila. In contrast, the biofilm communities on the tubeworms were more diverse and dominated by the chemoorganotrophic Moritella at GC234 and methylotrophic Methylomonas and Methylohalomonas at Bush Hill. Overall, our study provides evidence to support previous suggestion that M. methanophila harbors methylotrophic symbionts and also reveals the association of PAH-degrading and thioautotrophic microbes in the sponge. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media New York.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Soil Science