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Swarthmore College

Publication Date

Spring 2021

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology


The general objective of this study was to analyze the microbiome of seawater above a coral reef in Kilifi, Kenya. Specific objectives included establishing a baseline microbiota profile, classifying the identified organisms at various taxonomic levels, and conjecturing about reef health from the presence or absence of bioindicator species including Vibrio bacteria. Sequenced 16S rRNA gene sequences from seawater samples at Kuruwitu Conservancy in Kilifi, Kenya were taxonomically classified by exact matching employing the Dada2 software package and the naïve Bayesian classifier method with 97% similarity cut off. The seawater microbiota contained mostly Proteobacteria (73.28%), followed by Bacteroidetes (14.08%) and Cyanobacteria (4.47%). The Cyanobacteria levels were low compared to what has previously been observed of seawater from diseased and degraded reefs in Japan and Curacao, possibly indicating the health of the Kuruwitu reef. The presence of disease-causing Vibrio may be of concern, but since there is no known “healthy range” for Vibrio more research and monitoring are needed to draw conclusions. It is recommended that seawater sampling and genomic based taxonomic analysis be repeated and coupled with reef health monitoring in order to correlate changes in the holobiont to subsequent inclines or declines in reef health.


African Studies | Biodiversity | Bioinformatics | Biostatistics | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Microbiology | Oceanography


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