November 2 2011

12:00 LSB 2320

Monica Medina
School of Natural Sciences, UC Merced

Coral holobiont genomics: Insights into the interplay of a host and its diverse microbial assemblage


Corals are highly dynamic systems often referred to as holobionts, i.e an animal hosting microalgal symbionts, prokaryotic communities, other microeukaryotes, and viruses. Caribbean coral reefs are heavily impacted by multiple anthropogenic factors (e.g. agricultural, industrial and urban runoffs, increased sediments in river systems and overfishing). The whole region has shown a major decline in coral cover over the past few decades. In addition to the direct impacts on a fragile and complex ecosystem, these losses lead to smaller gene pools for corals to recover from and adapt. In turn, microbial assemblages associated with corals appear to be undergoing larger fluctuations than average in combination with increase in disease. We are using genomic approaches to examine healthy and diseased colonies of the coral Montastraea faveolata. We observe significant relative differences in microbial diversity between health conditions. When coupled with transcriptome profiling of the host, we also observe clear signatures of stress response in diseased states, as well a clear pattern of expression differences across intermediate and healthy conditions.
Our data are providing a clearer picture of what may be the combinations of microbial taxa associated with different health states in M. faveolata. The genetic make-up of the coral-microalgal assemblage of the colonies in our field sites appears to play a role in ecosystem response to stress reflected on overall host transcriptome profiles.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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