Sphaeroma serratum is a marine isopod species that inhabits seashores from Europe to West Africa. The individuals live under stones in direct contact with reduced sediments and harbour a diverse bacterial community on the cuticle of their pleopods. We investigated the diversity of these epibiotic bacteria on male (pubescent and senescent) and female specimens with electron microscopic observations and molecular tools. The microbial community of S. serratum was shown to be composed of at least 5 bacterial morphotypes observed on the pleopodal cuticle in all male specimens. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization, we identified 5 major phylogenetic groups (α-, β-, γ- and δ-Proteobacteria and Archaea) whereas denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments of epibiotic bacteria revealed 50 bands. The bacterial community associated with S. serratum seems more diverse than in other marine crustaceans, such as Rimicaris. The relative diversity of this bacterial community was also studied in relation to the molt cycle. The comparison of DGGE band patterns of several individuals from female, pubescent male and senescent male groups revealed that the bacterial community diversity was dependent on the sex and the age of the individuals and more generally on the molt status.
Epibiotic bacterial community of Sphaeroma serratum (Crustacea, Isopoda): relationship with molt status
12 December 2017