A matter of choice: Understanding the interactions between epiphytic foraminifera and their seagrass host Halophila stipulacea

Jenipher Masawa, Gidon Winters, Moran Kaminer, Amir Szitenberg, Michal Gruntman, Sarit Ashckenazi-Polivoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In sub/tropical waters, benthic foraminifera are among the most abundant epiphytic organisms inhabiting seagrass meadows. This study explored the nature of the association between foraminifera and the tropical seagrass species H. stipulacea, aiming to determine whether these interactions are facilitative or random. For this, we performed a “choice” experiment, where foraminifera could colonize H. stipulacea plants or plastic “seagrasses” plants. At the end of the experiment, a microbiome analysis was performed to identify possible variances in the microbial community and diversity of the substrates. Results show that foraminifera prefer to colonize H. stipulacea, which had a higher abundance and diversity of foraminifera than plastic seagrass plants, which increased over time and with shoot age. Moreover, H. stipulacea leaves have higher epiphytic microbial community abundance and diversity. These results demonstrate that seagrass meadows are important hosts of the foraminifera community and suggest the potential facilitative effect of H. stipulacea on epiphytic foraminifera, which might be attributed to a greater diversity of the microbial community inhabiting H. stipulacea.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number106437
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Volume196
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • Ecological interactions
  • Environmental protection
  • Foraminifera
  • Gulf of Aqaba (Goa)
  • Habitat
  • Halophila stipulacea
  • Marine ecology
  • Seagrass
  • “Choice” experiment

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography

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