Corals are a complex community with invertebrate host, algae and microbes in close symbiotic interaction. Like other interspecies interactions, the coral-holobiont system is complex and its members are governed by a set of physical, chemical and biological factors that in equilibrium lead to a stabilized coral. Our research interest lies in the investigation of a prevailing coral disease in the Arabian Gulf.
The Gulf is one of the most extreme environments in which corals tolerate high and variable temperatures (23-35°C) and elevated salinities (38-43 PSU). Recent lethality in the branching coral, Acropora downingi, has been caused primarily by white syndrome disease. The syndrome is characterized by fast spreading lesions, which cease during winter but recur on the same colonies annually during the summer.
Our aim is to study the biological and chemical signatures of diseased and healthy corals using mass-spectrometry based metabolomics in combination with other –omics and microbial isolation techniques. Knowledge of coral disease causes will improve reef conservation efforts and help stabilize coral reefs in future.