Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Pamela Hallock Muller


coral, cultured, deep-sea, fungi


Lophelia pertusa is a cosmopolitan cold-water coral, often found in aphotic waters (>200m). Aggregations of L. pertusa (reefs) provide important habitat to many invertebrate and fish species and act as biodiversity hotspots in the deep sea. The health and diversity of these reefs is of vital importance to deep-sea ecosystems, and the microbial consortia associated with L. pertusa form the most basic ecological level. Deciphering the diversity and function of these microbes provides insight into the roles they play in maintaining reef health. This dissertation takes microbiological techniques that are used in shallow-water coral microbial research and applies them to L. pertusa. A flaw in a primer set, which is commonly used in the molecular genetics method Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to obtain data on coral-associated microbes, is discussed and an alternative approach is presented. In addition, two culture-based studies are employed to catalogue diversity and explore functional differences in strains of both bacteria and fungi. The cultured bacteria were tested for resistance against six antibiotics that affect a variety of cellular targets to elucidate strain level differences. The first cultured fungi ever described from L. pertusa were identified by molecular techniques and assayed using Biolog plates to test their metabolic capabilities. Preliminary data analysis on metagenomic libraries of the microbial-size fraction of L. pertusa is presented and discussed in the context of microbial diversity and function, bridging the gap between culture-based work on function and culture-independent work on diversity.