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Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.701784

Consensus guidelines for advancing coral holobiont genome and specimen voucher deposition Provisionally accepted The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon. Notify me

  • 1Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, Germany
  • 2Australian Institute of Marine Science, Australia
  • 3Department of Biology, Boston University, United States
  • 4University of South Florida, United States
  • 5King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia
  • 6Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, United States
  • 7Old Dominion University, United States
  • 8Coral Coast Conservation Center, Fiji, Fiji
  • 9James Cook University, Australia
  • 10Museum of Tropical Queensland, Townsville, Australia, Australia
  • 11The University of Queensland, Australia
  • 12University of Guam Marine Laboratory, United States
  • 13Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, College of Life and Natural Sciences, University of Derby, United Kingdom
  • 14Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, Department of Environment and Planning, University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • 15Lehigh University, Department of Biological Sciences, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA, United States
  • 16Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (SI), United States
  • 17Department of Bioresources, Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, Fraunhofer Society (FHG), Germany
  • 18Molecular Invertebrate Systematics and Ecology Laboratory, University of the Ryukyus, Japan
  • 19Department of Physiology, Genetics and Microbiology, Faculty of Science, University of Alicante, Spain
  • 20Climate Change Cluster, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • 21Department of Animal Ecology and Systematics, Faculty of Biology and Chemistry, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany

Coral research is being ushered into the genomic era. To fully capitalize on the potential discoveries from this genomic revolution, the rapidly increasing number of high-quality genomes requires effective pairing with rigorous taxonomic characterizations of specimens and the contextualization of their ecological relevance. However, to date there is no formal framework that genomicists, taxonomists, and coral scientists can collectively use to systematically acquire and link these data. Spurred by the recently announced “Coral symbiosis sensitivity to environmental change hub” under the “Aquatic Symbiosis Genomics Project”, a collaboration between the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation to generate gold-standard genome sequences for coral animal hosts and their associated Symbiodiniaceae microalgae (among the sequencing of many other symbiotic aquatic species), we outline consensus guidelines to reconcile different types of data. The metaorganism nature of the coral holobiont provides a particular challenge in this context and is a key factor to consider for developing a framework to consolidate genomic, taxonomic, and ecological (meta)data. Ideally, genomic data should be accompanied by taxonomic references, i.e. skeletal vouchers as formal morphological references for corals and strain specimens in the case of microalgal and bacterial symbionts (cultured isolates). However, exhaustive taxonomic characterization of all coral holobiont member species is currently not feasible simply because we do not have a comprehensive understanding of all the organisms that constitute the coral holobiont. Nevertheless, guidelines on minimal, recommended, and ideal-case descriptions for the major coral holobiont constituents (coral animal, Symbiodiniaceae microalgae, prokaryotes) will undoubtedly help in future referencing and will facilitate comparative studies. We hope that the guidelines outlined here, which we will adhere to as part of the Aquatic Symbiosis Genomics Project sub-hub focused on coral symbioses, will be useful to a broader community and their implementation will facilitate cross- and meta-data comparisons and analyses.

Keywords: coral reef, Coral holobiont, Genome sequencing, Taxonomy, Genomics

Received: 28 Apr 2021; Accepted: 07 Jul 2021.

Copyright: © 2021 Voolstra, Quigley, Davies, Parkinson, Peixoto, Aranda, Baker, Barno, Barshis, Benzoni, Bonito, Bourne, Buitrago-Lopez, Bridge, Chan, Combosch, Craggs, Frommlet, Herrera, Quattrini, Rothig, Reimer, Rubio-Portillo, Suggett, Villela, Ziegler and Sweet. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Christian R. Voolstra, University of Konstanz, Department of Biology, Konstanz, 23955, Makkah, Germany,