Coral reefs are significant ecosystems. The ecological success of coral reefs relies on not only coral-algal symbiosis but also coral-microbial partnership. However, microbiome assemblages in the South China Sea corals remain largely unexplored. Here, we compared the microbiome assemblages of reef-building corals Galaxea (G. fascicularis) and Montipora (M. venosa, M. peltiformis, M. monasteriata) collected from five different locations in the South China Sea using massively-parallel sequencing of 16S rRNA gene and multivariate analysis. The results indicated that microbiome assemblages for each coral species were unique regardless of location and were different from the corresponding seawater. Host type appeared to drive the coral microbiome assemblages rather than location and seawater. Network analysis was employed to explore coral microbiome co-occurrence patterns, which revealed 61 and 80 co-occurring microbial species assembling the Galaxea and Montipora microbiomes, respectively. Most of these co-occurring microbial species were commonly found in corals and were inferred to play potential roles in host nutrient metabolism; carbon, nitrogen, sulfur cycles; host detoxification; and climate change. These findings suggest that the co-occurring microbial species explored might be essential to maintain the critical coral-microbial partnership. The present study provides new insights into coral microbiome assemblages in the South China Sea.
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