The role of epibotic bacteria from the surface of the soft coral Dendronephthya sp. in the inhibition of larval settlement

Sergey Dobretsov, Pei Yuan Qian

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63 Citations (Scopus)


It has been suggested that bacteria associated with soft-bodied organisms are suggested to produce bioactive compounds against the attachment of invertebrate larvae and bacteria onto the surface of these organisms. Our recent study has demonstrated that epibiotic bacteria from the surface of the soft coral Dendronephthya sp. (Coelenterata: Octocoralia, Alcyonacea) inhibit the growth of bacteria commonly found in marine natural biofilms. In the present study, the effect of 11 epibiotic bacteria isolated from the surface of Dendronephthya sp. on larval settlement of the tubeworms Hydroides elegans was examined using laboratory bioassay. Among 11 bacterial isolates, 2 strains (18%) inhibited the larval settlement of H. elegans (Haswell), 4 strains (36%) were "inductive" to larvae and the remaining 5 strains (46%) were "non-inductive". There was no correlation between the antifouling activities of bacterial isolates and their phylogenetic origin, i.e. closely related bacterial strains showed different effects on larval settlement of H. elegans. When all "inductive", "non-inductive" and "inhibitive" bacterial isolates were mixed in a 1:1:1 ratio, the effect of the resultant multispecies film on larval settlement became "inhibitive". Waterborne compounds of Vibrio sp. and an unidentified α-Proteobacterium, which suppressed the settlement of H. elegans and Bugula neritina (L.) larvae, were further investigated using size fractionation and bioassay-guided enzymatic analysis. It was found that antilarval settlement compounds from these bacteria were heat-stable polysaccharides with a molecular weight >100 kDa. The results indicate that the bacteria associated with the soft coral Dendronephthya sp. may contribute to the antifouling mechanisms of the soft-bodied organisms by producing compounds that are against bacterial growth and settlement of macrofoulers on the surface of their host.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-50
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 10 2004



  • Antifouling
  • Bugula neritina
  • Carbohydrates
  • Dendronephthya sp.
  • Epibiotic bacteria
  • Hydroides elegans
  • Larval settlement
  • Soft coral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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