Symbiodiniaceae-bacteria interactions: rethinking metabolite exchange in reef-building corals as multi-partner metabolic networks

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Environmental Microbiology, 2020
Issue Date:
2020-01-01
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© 2020 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The intimate relationship between scleractinian corals and their associated microorganisms is fundamental to healthy coral reef ecosystems. Coral-associated microbes (Symbiodiniaceae and other protists, bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses) support coral health and resilience through metabolite transfer, inter-partner signalling, and genetic exchange. However, much of our understanding of the coral holobiont relationship has come from studies that have investigated either coral-Symbiodiniaceae or coral-bacteria interactions in isolation, while relatively little research has focused on other ecological and metabolic interactions potentially occurring within the coral multi-partner symbiotic network. Recent evidences of intimate coupling between phytoplankton and bacteria have demonstrated that obligate resource exchange between partners fundamentally drives their ecological success. Here, we posit that similar associations with bacterial consortia regulate Symbiodiniaceae productivity and are in turn central to the health of corals. Indeed, we propose that this bacteria-Symbiodiniaceae-coral relationship underpins the coral holobiont's nutrition, stress tolerance and potentially influences the future survival of coral reef ecosystems under changing environmental conditions. Resolving Symbiodiniaceae-bacteria associations is therefore a logical next step towards understanding the complex multi-partner interactions occurring in the coral holobiont.
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