Instability and Stasis Among the Microbiome of Seagrass Leaves, Roots and Rhizomes, and Nearby Sediments Within a Natural pH Gradient

Raymond B. Banister, Melbert T. Schwarz, Maoz Fine, Kim B. Ritchie, Erinn M. Muller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Seagrass meadows are hotspots of biodiversity with considerable economic and ecological value. The health of seagrass ecosystems is influenced in part by the makeup and stability of their microbiome, but microbiome composition can be sensitive to environmental change such as nutrient availability, elevated temperatures, and reduced pH. The objective of the present study was to characterize the bacterial community of the leaves, bulk samples of roots and rhizomes, and proximal sediment of the seagrass species Cymodocea nodosa along the natural pH gradient of Levante Bay, Vulcano Island, Italy. The bacterial community was determined by characterizing the 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and analyzing the operational taxonomic unit classification of bacterial DNA within samples. Statistical analyses were used to explore how life-long exposure to different pH/pCO2 conditions may be associated with significant differences in microbial communities, dominant bacterial classes, and microbial diversity within each plant section and sediment. The microbiome of C. nodosa significantly differed among all sample types and site-specific differences were detected within sediment and root/rhizome microbial communities, but not the leaves. These results show that C. nodosa leaves have a consistent microbial community even across a pH range of 8.15 to 6.05. The ability for C. nodosa to regulate and maintain microbial structure may indicate a semblance of resilience within these vital ecosystems under projected changes in environmental conditions such as ocean acidification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-716
Number of pages14
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


The authors would like to acknowledge the Mote Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Dart Foundation, and the EU FP7 MedSea Project for their funding and support of this project. The research for this study for E. Muller was provided by the Mote Marine Laboratory Postdoctoral Fellowship and K. Ritchie was supported by the Dart Foundation. The study was partially supported by the EU FP7 MedSea Project.

FundersFunder number
EU FP7 MedSea Project
FP7 MedSea Project
Mote Marine Laboratory
Dart Foundation


    • Bacterial community
    • Cymodocea nodosa
    • Microbiome
    • Natural pH gradient
    • Seagrass
    • Vulcano


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