Novel tools integrating metabolic and gene function to study the impact of the environment on coral symbiosis

Mathieu Pernice, Oren Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The symbiotic dinoflagellates (genus Symbiodinium) inhabiting coral endodermal tissues are well known for their role as keystone symbiotic partners, providing corals with enormous amounts of energy acquired via photosynthesis and the absorption of dissolved nutrients. In the past few decades, corals reefs worldwide have been increasingly affected by coral bleaching (i.e., the breakdown of the symbiosis between corals and their dinoflagellate symbionts), which carries important socio-economic implications. Consequently, the number of studies focusing on the molecular and cellular processes underlying this biological phenomenon has grown rapidly, and symbiosis is now widely recognized as a major topic in coral biology. However, obtaining a clear image of the interplay between the environment and this mutualistic symbiosis remains challenging. Here, we review the potential of recent technological advances in molecular biology and approaches using stable isotopes to fill critical knowledge gaps regarding coral symbiotic function. Finally, we emphasize that the largest opportunity to achieve the full potential in this field arises from the integration of these technological advances.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00448
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable and constructive comments on the first version of the manuscript, which helped improve the quality of this paper. Mathieu Pernice is supported by the Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster, University of Technology Sydney.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Pernice and Levy.


  • Coral
  • Genomics
  • Stable isotopes
  • Symbiodinium
  • Symbiosis


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