Consensus Guidelines for Advancing Coral Holobiont Genome and Specimen Voucher Deposition

Christian R. Voolstra, Kate M. Quigley, Sarah W. Davies, John Everett Parkinson, Raquel S. Peixoto, Manuel Aranda, Andrew C. Baker, Adam R. Barno, Daniel J. Barshis, Francesca Benzoni, Victor Bonito, David G. Bourne, Carol Buitrago-López, Tom C.L. Bridge, Cheong Xin Chan, David J. Combosch, Jamie Craggs, Jörg C. Frommlet, Santiago Herrera, Andrea M. QuattriniTill Röthig, James D. Reimer, Esther Rubio-Portillo, David J. Suggett, Helena Villela, Maren Ziegler, Michael Sweet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Coral research is being ushered into the genomic era. To fully capitalize on the potential discoveries from this genomic revolution, the rapidly increasing number of high-quality genomes requires effective pairing with rigorous taxonomic characterizations of specimens and the contextualization of their ecological relevance. However, to date there is no formal framework that genomicists, taxonomists, and coral scientists can collectively use to systematically acquire and link these data. Spurred by the recently announced “Coral symbiosis sensitivity to environmental change hub” under the “Aquatic Symbiosis Genomics Project” - a collaboration between the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to generate gold-standard genome sequences for coral animal hosts and their associated Symbiodiniaceae microalgae (among the sequencing of many other symbiotic aquatic species) - we outline consensus guidelines to reconcile different types of data. The metaorganism nature of the coral holobiont provides a particular challenge in this context and is a key factor to consider for developing a framework to consolidate genomic, taxonomic, and ecological (meta)data. Ideally, genomic data should be accompanied by taxonomic references, i.e., skeletal vouchers as formal morphological references for corals and strain specimens in the case of microalgal and bacterial symbionts (cultured isolates). However, exhaustive taxonomic characterization of all coral holobiont member species is currently not feasible simply because we do not have a comprehensive understanding of all the organisms that constitute the coral holobiont. Nevertheless, guidelines on minimal, recommended, and ideal-case descriptions for the major coral holobiont constituents (coral animal, Symbiodiniaceae microalgae, and prokaryotes) will undoubtedly help in future referencing and will facilitate comparative studies. We hope that the guidelines outlined here, which we will adhere to as part of the Aquatic Symbiosis Genomics Project sub-hub focused on coral symbioses, will be useful to a broader community and their implementation will facilitate cross- and meta-data comparisons and analyses.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
StatePublished - Aug 3 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-08-31
Acknowledgements: We would like to acknowledge and thank the “Aquatic Symbiosis Genomics Project”, which is led by the Tree of Life Program at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. It is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through their “Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems Initiative” and by the Wellcome Trust through core funding to the Sanger Institute. Funding. CV acknowledges funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG), grants 433042944 and 458901010. Open Access publication fees are covered by an institutional agreement of the University of Konstanz.


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