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Host genetics, phenotype and geography structure the microbiome of a foundational seaweed

Cite this dataset

Wood, Georgina et al. (2022). Host genetics, phenotype and geography structure the microbiome of a foundational seaweed [Dataset]. Dryad.


Interactions between hosts and their microbiota are critical to the functioning and resilience of eukaryotic macro-organisms. Critically, for hosts that play foundational roles in communities, understanding what drives these interactions is essential for informing restoration and conservation of entire ecosystems. Here, we investigated the relative influence of host traits and the surrounding environment on microbial communities associated with the foundational seaweed Phyllospora comosa. We collected data on 16 morphological and functional phenotypic traits, host genetics (using 354 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) and surface-associated microbial communities (using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing) from 160 individuals sampled from eight sites spanning Phyllospora’s entire latitudinal distribution (1300 km). Combined, these factors explained 54% of the overall variation in Phyllospora’s associated microbial community structure, much of which was related to the local environment (~32%). We found that putative “core” microbial taxa (i.e. present on all Phyllospora individuals sampled) exhibited slightly higher association with host traits when compared to “variable” taxa (not present on all individuals). We identified several key genetic loci and phenotypic traits in Phyllospora that were strongly related to multiple microbial amplicon sequence variants, including taxa with known associations to seaweed defense, disease and tissue degradation. This information on how host-associated microbial communities vary with host traits and the environment enhances our current understanding of holobionts and how they are structured. Such understanding can be used to inform management strategies of these important and vulnerable habitats.


raw amplicon sequence data (ASV table only), morphological data and SNP genotypes for 156 Phyllospora comosa individuals collected at eight sampling locations in Australia.


Australian Research Council, Award: LP160100836

Australian Research Council, Award: DP170100023

Australian Research Council, Award: DP180104041