In the present work, culture-based and culture-independent investigations were performed to determine the microbiota structure of the coelomic fluid of Mediterranean sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus individuals collected from two distinct geographical sites neighboring a high-density population bay and a nature reserve, respectively. Next Generation Sequencing analysis of 16S rRNA gene (rDNA) showed that members of the Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Fusobacteria phyla, which have been previously reported to be commonly retrieved from marine invertebrates, dominate the overall population of microorganisms colonizing this liquid tissue, with minority bacterial genera exhibiting remarkable differences among individuals. Our results showed that there is a correlation between microbiota structure and geographical location of the echinoderm collection site, highlighting over-representation of metagenomic functions related to amino acid and bioactive peptides metabolism in specimens inhabiting the nature reserve. Finally, we also described the developmental delay and aberrations exhibited by sea urchin embryos exposed to distinct bacterial isolates, and showed that these defects rely upon hydrophilic compound(s) synthesized by the bacterial strains assayed. Altogether, our findings lay the groundwork to decipher the relationships of bacteria with sea urchins in their aquatic environment, also providing an additional layer of information to understand the biological roles of the coelomic fluid.
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