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Molecular commerce on coral reefs: using metabolomics to reveal biochemical exchanges underlying holobiont biology and the ecology of coastal ecosystems
Wegley Kelly, L.; Nelson, C.E.; Aluwihare, L.I.; Arts, M.G.I.; Dorrestein, P.C.; Koester, I.; Matsuda, S.B.; Petras, D.; Quinlan, Z.A.; Haas, A.F. (2021). Molecular commerce on coral reefs: using metabolomics to reveal biochemical exchanges underlying holobiont biology and the ecology of coastal ecosystems. Front. Mar. Sci. 8: 630799. https://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.630799
In: Frontiers in Marine Science. Frontiers Media: Lausanne. ISSN 2296-7745, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    biogeochemistry; coral reefs; coral holobiont; dissolved organic matter; metabolomics; microbial ecology; nutrient cycling

Authors  Top 
  • Wegley Kelly, L.
  • Nelson, C.E.
  • Aluwihare, L.I.
  • Arts, M.G.I., more
  • Dorrestein, P.C.
  • Koester, I.
  • Matsuda, S.B.
  • Petras, D.
  • Quinlan, Z.A.
  • Haas, A.F., more

Abstract
    The rapidly advancing field of metabolomics encompasses a diverse suite of powerful analytical and bioinformatic tools that can help to reveal the diversity and activity of chemical compounds in individual organisms, species interactions, and entire ecosystems. In this perspective we use examples from studies of coral reefs to illustrate ways in which metabolomics has been and can be applied to understand coastal ecosystems. Examples of new insights that can be provided by metabolomics include resolving metabolite exchange between plants, animals and their microbiota, identifying the relevant metabolite exchanges associated with the onset and maintenance of diverse, microbial mutualisms characterizing unknown molecules that act as cues in coral, reproduction, or defining the suites of compounds involved in coral-algal competition and microbialization of algal-dominated ecosystems. Here we outline sampling, analytical and informatic methods that marine biologists and ecologists can apply to understand the role of chemical processes in ecosystems, with a focus on open access data analysis workflows and democratized databases. Finally, we demonstrate how these metabolomics tools and bioinformatics approaches can provide scientists the opportunity to map detailed metabolic inventories and dynamics for a holistic view of the relationships among reef organisms, their symbionts and their surrounding marine environment.

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