The Potential for Multipartite Mutualisms in Corals
Kimberly Ritchie, Center for Coral Reef Research, Mote Marine Laboratory
10 Feb 2012
Multipartite symbiosis in corals is an exciting area of research that is not well understood. Research to date indicates that bacterial associates of corals may protect the host by producing antibiotics and other beneficial compounds and nutrients and are likely to play a role in the stability of the coral animal as a whole. These bacterial mutualists communicate with the host and host-associated microbes to regulate activities on the coral surface. Bacterial associates of the coral endosymbiotic algae, Symbiodinium spp, are shown to be specific. These include members of the α-proteobacteria group, Roseobacteriales. Cultured members of this group are shown to increase the growth of Symbiodinium, are present in early life stages of corals, and increase coral larval settlement, suggesting that they are likely to be important in Symbiodinium and coral biology.
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