Metabolomic signatures of corals thriving across extreme reef habitats reveal strategies of heat stress tolerance

Haydon, Trent D., Matthews, Jennifer L., Seymour, Justin R., Raina, Jean-Baptiste, Seymour, Jamie E., Chartrand, Kathryn, Camp, Emma F., and Suggett, David J. (2023) Metabolomic signatures of corals thriving across extreme reef habitats reveal strategies of heat stress tolerance. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 290 (1992). 20221877.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


Anthropogenic stressors continue to escalate worldwide, driving unprecedented declines in reef environmental conditions and coral health. One approach to better understand how corals can function in the future is to examine coral populations that thrive within present day naturally extreme habitats. We applied untargeted metabolomics (gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS)) to contrast metabolite profiles of Pocillopora acuta colonies from hot, acidic and deoxygenated mangrove environments versus those from adjacent reefs. Under ambient temperatures, P. acuta predominantly associated with endosymbionts of the genera Cladocopium (reef) or Durusdinium (mangrove), exhibiting elevated metabolism in mangrove through energy-generating and biosynthesis pathways compared to reef populations. Under transient heat stress, P. acuta endosymbiont associations were unchanged. Reef corals bleached and exhibited extensive shifts in symbiont metabolic profiles (whereas host metabolite profiles were unchanged). By contrast, mangrove populations did not bleach and solely the host metabolite profiles were altered, including cellular responses in inter-partner signalling, antioxidant capacity and energy storage. Thus mangrove P. acuta populations resist periodically high-temperature exposure via association with thermally tolerant endosymbionts coupled with host metabolic plasticity. Our findings highlight specific metabolites that may be biomarkers of heat tolerance, providing novel insight into adaptive coral resilience to elevated temperatures.

Item ID: 78406
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2954
Keywords: coral metabolomics, extreme environments, heat stress, Pocillopora acuta, Symbiodiniaceae, symbiosis
Copyright Information: © 2023 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DP200100091, ARC DP180100838, ARC DE190100142
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2023 02:02
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310303 Ecological physiology @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310505 Gene expression (incl. microarray and other genome-wide approaches) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 75%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 25%
Downloads: Total: 1
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page