Short-term succession of marine microbial fouling communities and the identification of primary and secondary colonizers

Microbial succession during the initial stages of marine biofouling has been rarely studied, especially in the Arabian Gulf. This study was undertaken to follow temporal shifts in biofouling communities in order to identify primary and secondary colonizers. Quantitative analysis revealed a significant increase in total biomass, coverage of macrofoulers, chlorophyll a concentrations, and bacterial counts with time. The relative abundance of the adnate diatoms increased with time, whereas it decreased in the case of the plocon diatoms. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) ordination based on MiSeq data placed the bacterial communities in three distinct clusters, depending on the time of sampling. While the relative abundance of Alphaproteobacteria and Flavobacteriia decreased with time, suggesting their role as primary colonizers, the relative abundance of Actinobacteria and Planctomycetia increased with time, suggesting their role as secondary colonizers. Biofouling is a dynamic process that involves temporal quantitative and qualitative shifts in the micro- and macrofouling communities.