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Corals' resistance to disease is highly dependent on their ability to maintain healthy surface microbiomes, a community of microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi. For several years, it has been shown that corals harbor unique microbes at their surfaces, but the mechanisms of how this community is recruited and maintained were not known. In a new study published in Communications Biology, NYU Abu Dhabi Assistant Professor of Biology Shady Amin, along with Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin from the Helmholtz Center Munich, report that corals, though they are stationary organisms, can alter their surroundings by producing unique molecules that can help recruit healthy microbiomes and fight parasitic microbes.
Much like how our health is linked to maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, corals also resist disease by maintaining a healthy surface microbiome. The paper reports for the first time that corals are surrounded by a cloud of molecules that form concentration gradients around coral colonies and help structure microbial communities, also known as surface microbiomes, residing on coral surfaces. The implications of these findings are far reaching as these microbial communities are strongly linked to whether corals around the world are healthy or are infected by disease.
Water - Samples - Colonies
Using water samples from 18 coral colonies along...
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