A genomic view of the reef-building coral Porites lutea and its microbial symbionts

Steven J. Robbins, Caitlin M. Singleton, Cheong Xin Chan, Lauren F. Messer, Aileen U. Geers, Hua Ying, Alexander Baker, Sara C. Bell, Kathleen M. Morrow, Mark A. Ragan, David J. Miller, Sylvain Forêt, Eldon Ball, Roger Beeden, Michael L. Berumen, Manuel Aranda, Timothy Ravasi, Pim Bongaerts, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Ira CookeBill Leggat, Susan Sprungala, Anna Fitzgerald, Catherine Shang, Petra Lundgren, Theresa Fyffe, Francesco Rubino, Madeleine van Oppen, Karen Weynberg, Christian R. Voolstra, Gene W. Tyson, David G. Bourne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Corals and the reef ecosystems that they support are in global decline due to increasing anthropogenic pressures such as climate change1. However, effective reef conservation strategies are hampered by a limited mechanistic understanding of coral biology and the functional roles of the diverse microbial communities that underpin coral health2,3. Here, we present an integrated genomic characterization of the coral species Porites lutea and its microbial partners. High-quality genomes were recovered from P. lutea, as well as a metagenome-assembled Cladocopium C15 (the dinoflagellate symbiont) and 52 bacterial and archaeal populations. Comparative genomic analysis revealed that many of the bacterial and archaeal genomes encode motifs that may be involved in maintaining association with the coral host and in supplying fixed carbon, B-vitamins and amino acids to their eukaryotic partners. Furthermore, mechanisms for ammonia, urea, nitrate, dimethylsulfoniopropionate and taurine transformation were identified that interlink members of the holobiont and may be important for nutrient acquisition and retention in oligotrophic waters. Our findings demonstrate the critical and diverse roles that microorganisms play within the coral holobiont and underscore the need to consider all of the components of the holobiont if we are to effectively inform reef conservation strategies.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2090-2100
Number of pages11
JournalNature Microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Sep 23 2019

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