Coral microbiome manipulation elicits metabolic and genetic restructuring to mitigate heat stress and evade mortality

by Erika Santoro, Ricardo Borges, Josh Espinoza, Marcelo Freire, Camila Messias, Helena Villela, Leandro Pereira, Caren L.S. Vilela, Joao G. Rosado, Pedro Cardoso, Phillipe M. Rosado, Juliana Assis, Gustavo Duarte, Gabriela Perna, Alexandre S. Rosado, Andrew Macrae, Christopher Dupont, Karen E. Nelson, Michael Sweet, Christian Voolstra, Raquel Peixoto
Scientific paper Year: 2021 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg3088

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Science Advances, Vol 7, Issue 33


Beneficial microorganisms for corals (BMCs) ameliorate environmental stress, but whether they can prevent mortality and the underlying host response mechanisms remains elusive. Here, we conducted omics analyses on the coral Mussismilia hispida exposed to bleaching conditions in a long-term mesocosm experiment and inoculated with a selected BMC consortium or a saline solution placebo. All corals were affected by heat stress, but the observed “post-heat stress disorder” was mitigated by BMCs, signified by patterns of dimethylsulfoniopropionate degradation, lipid maintenance, and coral host transcriptional reprogramming of cellular restructuration, repair, stress protection, and immune genes, concomitant with a 40% survival rate increase and stable photosynthetic performance by the endosymbiotic algae. This study provides insights into the responses that underlie probiotic host manipulation. We demonstrate that BMCs trigger a dynamic microbiome restructuring process that instigates genetic and metabolic alterations in the coral host that eventually mitigate coral bleaching and mortality.


Coral microbiome BMCs Coral reefs