May 10 2017

12:00 LSB 2320

Becky Vega-Thurber
Department of Microbiology, Oregon State University

Linking Coral Reef Decline to Alterations in Reef Microbiology and Virology Linking Coral Reef Decline to Alterations in Reef Microbiology and Virology


Environmental stressors increasingly threaten Scleractinian corals. Coral’s microbial and viral symbionts influence their resilience to these threats. However, inconsistent sampling of microbial communities across coral diversity as well as environmentally unrealistic experiments, limit our ability to study the ecology, evolution, and roles of coral microbiomes and viromes. To address these knowledge gaps, we have conducted several in-field time series experiments and constructed an atlas of global coral microbiomes and viromes using 16S rRNA gene amplicon profiling, metagenomics, and microscopy. We have found that coral mucus, tissue, and skeleton harbored distinct microbial and viral communities that responded differentially to host and environmental factors. For example, while environmental factors (e.g., latitude, season) structure mucus microbiomes and viral consortia, host factors (e.g., genus, colony size) structured tissue and skeleton microbiomes. We have also found that the composition and richness of tissue and skeleton microbiomes reflected coral phylogeny over more than 240 million years of evolution - an ancient signal of symbiosis dating back to the first appearance of scleractinian corals. More generally, the abundances of many bacterial genera consistently rose or fell with disease-susceptibility over coral evolution. These findings connect the coral microbiome and virome to the ecology and evolution of life-history strategy and disease susceptibility in a basal animal lineage.

Host: Katie Prager















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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