Unraveling the predictive role of temperature in the gut microbiota of the sea urchin Echinometra sp. EZ across spatial and temporal gradients

Remi N. Ketchum, Edward G. Smith, Grace O. Vaughan, Dain McParland, Noura Al-Mansoori, John A. Burt, Adam M. Reitzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shifts in microbial communities represent a rapid response mechanism for host organisms to respond to changes in environmental conditions. Therefore, they are likely to be important in assisting the acclimatization of hosts to seasonal temperature changes as well as to variation in temperatures across a species’ range. The Persian/Arabian Gulf is the world's warmest sea, with large seasonal fluctuations in temperature (20℃ - 37℃) and is connected to the Gulf of Oman which experiences more typical oceanic conditions (<32℃ in the summer). This system is an informative model for understanding how symbiotic microbial assemblages respond to thermal variation across temporal and spatial scales. Here, we elucidate the role of temperature on the microbial gut community of the sea urchin Echinometra sp. EZ and identify microbial taxa that are tightly correlated with the thermal environment. We generated two independent datasets with a high degree of geographic and temporal resolution. The results show that microbial communities vary across thermally variable habitats, display temporal shifts that correlate with temperature, and can become more disperse as temperatures rise. The relative abundances of several ASVs significantly correlate with temperature in both independent datasets despite the >300 km distance between the furthest sites and the extreme seasonal variations. Notably, over 50% of the temperature predictive ASVs identified from the two datasets belonged to the family Vibrionaceae. Together, our results identify temperature as a robust predictor of community-level variation and highlight specific microbial taxa putatively involved in the response to thermal environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3869-3881
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular ecology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Echinometra
  • Persian/Arabian Gulf
  • gut microbiota
  • microbial ecology
  • sea urchin
  • thermal gradient

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Unraveling the predictive role of temperature in the gut microbiota of the sea urchin Echinometra sp. EZ across spatial and temporal gradients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this