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USGS scientists publish long-read microbiome sequences from temperate coral, providing community resource for probe and primer design

Astrangia poculata, the northern star coral, is a temperate scleractinian coral that has been documented on the Atlantic Coast of the United States from Maine to Florida, as well as the Gulf Coasts of Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.

Phylogenetic tree representing bacterial OTUs
Phylogenetic tree representing bacterial OTUs from clone libraries and next-generation sequencing. OTUs from next-generation sequencing are displayed if the OTU contained more than two sequences in the unrarefied OTU table (3626 OTUs). Source of next-generation sequence data is Sharp et al., 2017.

In addition to broad geographic distribution, this coral is a natural model for symbiosis, living with and without zooxanthellae (algal symbionts), making it an ideal model organism to study microbial community interactions associated with symbiotic state. However, the ability to develop primers and probes to more specifically target key microbial groups has been hindered by the lack of full length 16S rRNA sequences, since sequences produced by the Illumina platform are of insufficient length (approximately 250 base pairs) for the design of primers and probes. This study demonstrates that Sanger sequencing was capable of reproducing the biologically-relevant diversity detected by deeper next-generation sequencing, while also producing longer sequences useful to the research community for probe and primer design. Partners in the study include Roger Williams University and Georgia Institute of Technology.

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