Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean, Coastal, and Earth Sciences

First Advisor

Erin Easton

Second Advisor

Keir Macartney

Third Advisor

Christopher Gabler


Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems are highly diverse and productive ecosystems in the western Gulf of Mexico which are composed of, in part, by octocorals (subclass Octocorallia). Despite their importance as foundational organisms octocorals are an understudied group in this region, with little known about their microbial community. Ninety-eight Octocoral samples collected from the western and northwestern Gulf of Mexico were sequenced using 16S rRNA sequencing to characterize their microbial communities. The sequenced microbiomes were generally low in diversity composed of a few core microbial taxa. Octocoral group was the main driver of microbiome composition as opposed to depth, season, region, and reef type. The effect of sequencing depth on a subset of 24 samples was examined, and showed low sequencing depth was sufficient to capture microbiome community trends. This microbiome data may be used to improve our understanding of the biology of octocorals in the Gulf of Mexico and contribute to conservation efforts in the future.


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