Ocean warming alters predicted microbiome functionality in a common sea urchin

Academic Article


  • The microbiome of sea urchins plays a role in maintaining digestive health and innate immunity. Here, we investigated the effects of long-term (90 day) exposure to elevated seawater temperatures on the microbiome of the common, subtropical sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. The community composition and diversity of microbes varied according to the type of sample collected from the sea urchin (seawater, feed, intestines, coelomic fluid, digested pellet and faeces), with the lowest microbial diversity (predominately the order Campylobacterales) located in the intestinal tissue. Sea urchins exposed to near-future seawater temperatures maintained the community structure and diversity of microbes associated with their tissues. However, marginal, non-significant shifts in microbial community structure with elevated temperature resulted in significant changes in predicted metagenomic functions such as membrane transport and amino acid and carbohydrate metabolism. The predicted changes in key metabolic categories suggest that near-future climate-induced increases in seawater temperature could shift microbial community function and impact sea urchin digestive and immune physiology.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Brothers CJ; Van Der Pol WJ; Morrow CD; Hakim JA; Koo H; McClintock JB
  • Volume

  • 285
  • Issue

  • 1881