ACE researchers Steven Robbins, Lauren Messer, Caitlin Singleton, Aileen Geers, and Alex Baker authored a new publication in Nature Microbiology, entitled “A genomic view of the reef-building coral Porites lutea and its microbial symbionts.” By sequencing the genomes of the coral Porites lutea, its algal symbiont, and 52 bacterial and archaeal genomes, we could look at the whole library of genes each organism has to work with to see how their metabolisms interlink. This is very exciting in a number of ways. Researchers have studied the symbiosis between corals and their algal symbionts (Symbiodinium) for many years, but the role of the bacteria and archaea in coral health is just now being recognized. This is the first bacterial/archaeal community from corals to be sequenced and the first time we’re getting to look under the hood to see what these microbes do. It’s also the first time each member of the coral community (i.e. the coral, algae, and bacteria/archaea) have been looked at as a unit, which we think will be integral if we are to properly understand coral biology.

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