The understanding of host-microbial partnerships has become a hot topic during the last decade; as it has been shown that associated microbiota play critical roles in the host physiological functions and susceptibility to diseases. Moreover, the microbiome may contribute to host resilience to environmental stressors. The sea anemone Aiptasia is a good laboratory model system to study corals and their microbial symbiosis. In this regard, studying its bacterial microbiota provides a better understanding of cnidarian metaorganisms as a whole. Here, we investigated the bacterial communities of different Aiptasia host-symbiont combinations under long-term heat stress under laboratory conditions. Following a 16S rRNA gene sequencing approach we were able to detect significant differences in the bacterial composition and structure of Aiptasia reared at different temperatures. A higher number of taxa (i.e., species richness) and consequently increased α-diversity and β-dispersion were observed in the microbiomes of heat-stressed individuals across all host strains and experimental batches. Our findings are in line with the recently proposed Anna Karenina principle (AKP) for animal microbiomes, which states that dysbiotic or stressed organisms have a more variable and unstable microbiota than healthy ones. Microbial interactions affect the fitness and survival of their hosts, thus exploring the AKP effect on animal microbiomes is important to understand host resilience. Our data contributes to the current knowledge of the Aiptasia holobiont and to the growing field of study of host-associated microbiomes.
Anna Karenina Principle