Phenotypic characterization of culturable marine luminous bacteria isolated from coastal waters of the southern Adriatic Sea ( Otranto , Italy )
- G Gabutti, A De Donno
Luminous bacteria are isolated from both Hydrozoa and Bryozoa with chitinous structures on their surfaces. All the specimens of the examined hydroid species (Aglaophenia kirchenpaueri, Aglaophenia octodonta, Aglaophenia tubiformis, Halopteris diaphana, Plumularia setacea, Ventromma halecioides), observed under blue light excitation, showed a clear fluorescence on the external side of the perisarc (chitinous exoskeleton) around hydrocladia. In the bryozoan Myriapora truncata, luminous bacteria are present on the chitinous opercula. All the isolated luminous bacteria were identified on the basis of both phenotypic and genotypic analysis. The isolates from A. tubiformis and H. diaphana were unambiguously assigned to the species Vibrio fischeri. In contrast, the isolates from the other hydroids, phenotypically assigned to the species Vibrio harveyi, were then split into two distinct species by phylogenetic analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences and DNA–DNA hybridization experiments. Scanning electron microscopy analysis and results of culture-based and culture-independent approaches enabled us to establish that luminous vibrios represent major constituents of the bacterial community inhabiting the A. octodonta surface suggesting that the interactions between luminous bacteria and the examined hydrozoan and bryozoan species are highly specific. These interactions might have epidemiological as well as ecological implications because of the opportunistic pathogenicity of luminous Vibrio species for marine organisms and the wide-distribution of the hydrozoan and bryozoan functioning as carriers.