Jarett et al. 2017

scientific article | Sci Rep | open access Open access small

Comparative Genomics of Color Morphs In the Coral Montastraea cavernosa

Jarett JK, MacManes MD, Morrow KM, Pankey MS, Lesser MP

Adobe pdf

Montastraea cavernosa is a common coral in the Caribbean basin found in several color morphs. To investigate the causes for brown and orange morphs we undertook a genomics approach on corals collected at the same time and depth in the Bahamas. The coral holobiont includes the host, symbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.), and a diverse microbiome. While the coral host showed significant genetic differentiation between color morphs both the composition of the Symbiodinium spp. communities and the prokaryotic communities did not. Both targeted and global gene expression differences in the transcriptome of the host show no difference in fluorescent proteins while the metatranscriptome of the microbiome shows that pigments such as phycoerythrin and orange carotenoid protein of cyanobacterial origin are significantly greater in orange morphs, which is also consistent with the significantly greater number of cyanobacteria quantified by 16S rRNA reads and flow cytometry. The microbiome of orange color morphs expressed significantly more nitrogenase (nifH) transcripts consistent with their known ability to fix nitrogen. Both coral and Symbiodinium spp. transcriptomes from orange morphs had significantly increased expression of genes related to immune response and apoptosis, which may potentially be involved in maintaining and regulating the unique symbiont population in orange morphs.

S41598 017 16371 9
Meta-data (pending validation)
Depth range
3- 75 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
2 x (total of 7208 words)

Molecular ecology Physiology

Research focus
Bacteria and Archaea Scleractinia (Hard Corals)


Research platforms
Diving - Regular Open-Circuit Diving - Technical Rebreather
Author profiles
Kathleen Morrow ( 2 pubs)
Michael P. Lesser ( 14 pubs)