A bacterial pathogen uses dimethylsulfoniopropionate as a cue to target heat-stressed corals

Garren, Melissa, Son, Kwangmin, Raina, Jean-Baptiste, Rusconi, Roberto, Menolascina, Filippo, Shapiro, Orr H., Tout, Jessica, Bourne, David G., Seymour, Justin R., and Stocker, Roman (2014) A bacterial pathogen uses dimethylsulfoniopropionate as a cue to target heat-stressed corals. ISME Journal, 8. pp. 999-1007.

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Abstract

Diseases are an emerging threat to ocean ecosystems. Coral reefs, in particular, are experiencing a worldwide decline because of disease and bleaching, which have been exacerbated by rising seawater temperatures. Yet, the ecological mechanisms behind most coral diseases remain unidentified. Here, we demonstrate that a coral pathogen, Vibrio coralliilyticus, uses chemotaxis and chemokinesis to target the mucus of its coral host, Pocillopora damicornis. A primary driver of this response is the host metabolite dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), a key element in the global sulfur cycle and a potent foraging cue throughout the marine food web. Coral mucus is rich in DMSP, and we found that DMSP alone elicits chemotactic responses of comparable intensity to whole mucus. Furthermore, in heat-stressed coral fragments, DMSP concentrations increased fivefold and the pathogen's chemotactic response was correspondingly enhanced. Intriguingly, despite being a rich source of carbon and sulfur, DMSP is not metabolized by the pathogen, suggesting that it is used purely as an infochemical for host location. These results reveal a new role for DMSP in coral disease, demonstrate the importance of chemical signaling and swimming behavior in the recruitment of pathogens to corals and highlight the impact of increased seawater temperatures on disease pathways.

Item ID: 33199
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1751-7370
Keywords: vibrio; microfluidics; chemotaxis; DMSP; chemical signaling; motility
Funders: Human Frontiers in Science Program (HFSP), Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF), Australian Research Council (ARC), Samsung, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), University of Technology, Sydney, Australian Coral Reef Society (ACRS), National Science Foundation (NSF)
Projects and Grants: HFSP award no. RGY0089, ARC Grant DP1101030, ACRS Terry Walker Award, NSF award OCE- 0744641-CAREER, NSF award CBET-106656, NSF award CBET-0966000
Date Deposited: 21 May 2014 06:00
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0605 Microbiology > 060504 Microbial Ecology @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0606 Physiology > 060603 Animal Physiology Systems @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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