Thursday, April 5, 2018

Scientific publication in Marine Biology - Ecophysiology team

Octocorals and their microbes – what do we know?

To answer this question… Scientists from the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Drs. Jeroen van de Water and Christine Ferrier-Pagès and Prof. Denis Allemand, compiled all the current knowledge on the interactions between octocorals and their various microbial symbionts, and brought it together to provide the first ever overview on octocoral holobionts that was recently published as a review in the high impact factor journal Microbiome. This reference work and the previous work on octocorals conducted at the CSM, places our institute at forefront of the field of octocoral microbial ecology.
Microbes play very important roles in the life and health of animals.
The consortium of a host and their microbial partners, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, is called a ‘holobiont’. Although some microbes may cause disease, many more assist their animal host to remain healthy by, for example, aiding in the digestion of food or eliminating disease-causing microbes. In corals, the vast majority of studies into coral-microbe symbioses have looked at the iconic tropical scleractinian corals that construct coral reefs. Their microbial algal symbionts, which give food to the coral, have been extensively studied for decades, and the bacterial and viral communities have been an important focus of research since the beginning of this century. Particularly, ‘coral bleaching’ and disease outbreaks linked to climate change on tropical coral reefs have given these fields a major boost.
However, octocorals (gorgonians and soft corals) are highly understudied, despite their much wider distribution, from the shallow tropical coral reefs to the dark deep sea and arctic regions, and equally important structural roles in ecosystems on the ocean floor. Recent reports by scientists from the Centre Scientifique de Monaco on the interactions between microbes and Mediterranean octocorals, revealed extraordinary stability in the microbial communities and were the most in-depth studies on octocoral holobiont composition to date. On the other hand, it also highlighted that we still know very little about octocoral holobionts compared to their tropical reef-building relatives.

© E. Béraud (CSM)
Gorgonian Leptogorgia sarmentosa
© E. Béraud (CSM)
Gorgonian Paramuricea clavata

The current review addresses a range of aspects of the octocoral holobiont and combines all knowledge into a work of reference. In addition to an overview of the various microbial symbionts of octocorals, the review also discusses octocoral diseases, the different ways how octocorals regulate their microbiota (immune response and interference in bacteria-bacteria communication) and the biodiscovery of antimicrobial compounds isolated from octocorals for medical use, and provides perspectives for future research in this field.

 

van de Water J A J M, Allemand D and Ferrier-Pagès C. (2018). Host-microbe interactions in octocoral holobionts - recent advances and perspectives. Microbiome 6 (1): 64

 

 


 For more information, visit www.centrescientifique.mc or contact:

- Dr Jeroen van de WaterPost-doctoral scientist in the Ecophysiology team, Marine Biology Department, Centre Scientifique de Monaco (jvdewater@centrescientifique.mc). 

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