Roach TNF(1), Dilworth J(1)(2), H CM(3), Jones AD(3), Quinn RA(4), Drury C(5). Author information:
(1)Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa,
Kāne'ohe, HI, USA.
(2)Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami,
Miami, FL, USA.
(3)Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University,
East Lansing, MI, USA.
(4)Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University,
East Lansing, MI, USA. [Email]
(5)Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa,
Kāne'ohe, HI, USA. [Email]
Coral bleaching has a profound impact on the health and function of reef ecosystems, but the metabolomic effects of coral bleaching are largely uncharacterized. Here, untargeted metabolomics was used to analyse pairs of adjacent Montipora capitata corals that had contrasting bleaching phenotypes during a severe bleaching event in 2015. When these same corals were sampled four years later while visually healthy, there was a strong metabolomic signature of bleaching history. This was primarily driven by betaine lipids from the symbiont, where corals that did not bleach were enriched in saturated lyso-betaine lipids. Immune modulator molecules were also altered by bleaching history in both the coral host and the algal symbiont, suggesting a shared role in partner choice and bleaching response. Metabolomics from a separate set of validation corals was able to predict the bleaching phenotype with 100% accuracy. Experimental temperature stress induced phenotype-specific responses, which magnified differences between historical bleaching phenotypes. These findings indicate that natural bleaching susceptibility is manifested in the biochemistry of both the coral animal and its algal symbiont. This metabolome difference is stable through time and results in different physiological responses to temperature stress. This work provides insight into the biochemical mechanisms of coral bleaching and presents a valuable new tool for resilience-based reef restoration.
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