The Other Microeukaryotes of the Coral Reef Microbiome

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Journal Article
Trends in Microbiology, 2017, 25 (12), pp. 980 - 991
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd In marine ecosystems microbial communities are critical to ocean function, global primary productivity, and biogeochemical cycles. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes are essential symbionts and mutualists, nonpathogenic invaders, primary pathogens, have been linked to disease emergence, and can underpin broader ecosystem changes. However, in the effort to determine coral–microbial interactions, the structure and function of the eukaryotic microbes of the microbiome have been studied less. Eukaryotic microbes are important members of the microbiome, constitute entire kingdoms of life, and make important contributions to ecosystem function. Here, we outline the roles of eukaryotic microbes in marine systems and their contribution to ecosystem change, and discuss the microeukaryotic microbiome of corals and coral reefs. Current knowledge of the taxonomic diversity and functional contribution of the microeukaryotes within the coral and coral reef microbiome is limited. Microeukaryotes can function within ecosystems as pathogens, engineers, and symbionts; however, their functional role has been the primary focus of research to date. The microeukaryotes’ sources, sinks, and persistence – within and between habitats – have not yet been addressed. Coral reef molecular diversity studies predominantly remove microeukaryotes' data from datasets, and, in doing so, exclude these potentially key taxa from assessments of microbiome function. This is particularly relevant when considering that many studies are comparing diversity and function between disturbed and nondisturbed states, or diseased and healthy states.
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