For better, for worse: manatee-associated Tursiocola (Bacillariophyta) remain faithful to their host
Goosen, William E.
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract With the advent of more comprehensive research into the microbiome and interactions between animals and their microbiota, new solutions can be applied to address conservation challenges such as husbandry and medical care of captive animals. Although studies on epizoic algae are relatively rare, and the function and role of those mainly photosynthetic organisms in the animal microbiome is not well understood, recent surveys on epizoic diatoms show that some of them exhibit traits of obligate epibionts. This study explores diatom communities on captive–born manatees from the Africarium in Wroclaw, Poland. Light and scanning electron microscopy analyses revealed that skin of all animals sampled was dominated by apochlorotic Tursiocola cf. ziemanii, an epizoic species described recently from Florida manatees, that reached 99,9% of the total diatom abundance. Despite using media with a wide range of salinity (0–34), the isolated Tursiocola cells did not grow, whereas the normally pigmented Planothidium sp., that was only occasionally found on the animal substratum, survived in all culture media tested. Our observations provide direct evidence that manatee–associated Tursiocola endure the dramatic salinity changes that occur regularly during their host life cycle, and can thrive in an artificial captive setting, if the manatee substratum is available. The impact of practices and routines used by the Africarium on manatee–associated diatoms, as well as ultrastructure of areolae in Tursiocola, are briefly discussed