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Melissa Garren

Bio: Melissa Garren is an academic researcher from California State University, Monterey Bay. The author has contributed to research in topics: Coral & Coral reef. The author has an hindex of 17, co-authored 31 publications receiving 1846 citations. Previous affiliations of Melissa Garren include Yale University & Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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TL;DR: The current understanding of the role of microorganisms in coral health and disease is reviewed, and the pressing interdisciplinary research priorities required to elucidate the mechanisms of disease are highlighted.

378 citations

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TL;DR: Climate model projections of temperature conditions that will increase coral susceptibility to disease, pathogen abundance and pathogen virulence and identify priority locations to reduce stress caused by local human activities and test management interventions to reduce disease impacts are presented.
Abstract: Rising sea temperatures are likely to increase the frequency of disease outbreaks affecting reef-building corals through impacts on coral hosts and pathogens. We present and compare climate model projections of temperature conditions that will increase coral susceptibility to disease, pathogen abundance and pathogen virulence. Both moderate (RCP 4.5) and fossil fuel aggressive (RCP 8.5) emissions scenarios are examined. We also compare projections for the onset of disease-conducive conditions and severe annual coral bleaching, and produce a disease risk summary that combines climate stress with stress caused by local human activities. There is great spatial variation in the projections, both among and within the major ocean basins, in conditions favouring disease development. Our results indicate that disease is as likely to cause coral mortality as bleaching in the coming decades. These projections identify priority locations to reduce stress caused by local human activities and test management interventions to reduce disease impacts.

223 citations

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TL;DR: The evidence presented here supports the hypothesis that microbial communities play important roles in ecological resilience, and encourages a focus on the microbial contributions to resilience for future research.
Abstract: The microbial contribution to ecological resilience is still largely overlooked in coral reef ecology. Coral-associated bacteria serve a wide variety of functional roles with reference to the coral host, and thus, the composition of the overall microbiome community can strongly influence coral health and survival. Here, we synthesize the findings of recent studies (n=45) that evaluated the impacts of the top three stressors facing coral reefs, climate change, water pollution and overfishing, on coral microbiome community structure and diversity. Contrary to the species losses that are typical of many ecological communities under stress, here we show that microbial richness tends to be higher rather than lower for stressed corals (i.e. in ~60% of cases), regardless of the stressor. Microbial responses to stress were taxonomically consistent across stressors, with specific taxa typically increasing in abundance (e.g. Vibrionales, Flavobacteriales, Rhodobacterales, Altermonadales, Rhizobiales, Rhodospirillales and Desulfovibrionales) and others declining (e.g. Oceanosprillales). Emerging evidence also suggests that stress may increase the microbial beta diversity amongst coral colonies, potentially reflecting a reduced ability of the coral host to regulate its microbiome. Moving forward, studies will need to discern the implications of stress-induced shifts in microbiome diversity for the coral hosts and may be able to use microbiome community structure to identify resilient corals. The evidence we present here supports the hypothesis that microbial communities play important roles in ecological resilience, and we encourage a focus on the microbial contributions to resilience for future research.

189 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A new role for DMSP is revealed in coral disease, the importance of chemical signaling and swimming behavior in the recruitment of pathogens to corals and the impact of increased seawater temperatures on disease pathways are highlighted.
Abstract: Diseases are an emerging threat to ocean ecosystems. Coral reefs, in particular, are experiencing a worldwide decline because of disease and bleaching, which have been exacerbated by rising seawater temperatures. Yet, the ecological mechanisms behind most coral diseases remain unidentified. Here, we demonstrate that a coral pathogen, Vibrio coralliilyticus, uses chemotaxis and chemokinesis to target the mucus of its coral host, Pocillopora damicornis. A primary driver of this response is the host metabolite dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), a key element in the global sulfur cycle and a potent foraging cue throughout the marine food web. Coral mucus is rich in DMSP, and we found that DMSP alone elicits chemotactic responses of comparable intensity to whole mucus. Furthermore, in heat-stressed coral fragments, DMSP concentrations increased fivefold and the pathogen's chemotactic response was correspondingly enhanced. Intriguingly, despite being a rich source of carbon and sulfur, DMSP is not metabolized by the pathogen, suggesting that it is used purely as an infochemical for host location. These results reveal a new role for DMSP in coral disease, demonstrate the importance of chemical signaling and swimming behavior in the recruitment of pathogens to corals and highlight the impact of increased seawater temperatures on disease pathways.

168 citations

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TL;DR: A review of applications of microfluidics that have resulted in insightful discoveries on fundamental aspects of microbial life, ranging from growth and sensing to cell-cell interactions and population dynamics can be found in this article.
Abstract: Microfluidics has significantly contributed to the expansion of the frontiers of microbial ecology over the past decade by allowing researchers to observe the behaviors of microbes in highly controlled microenvironments, across scales from a single cell to mixed communities. Spatially and temporally varying distributions of organisms and chemical cues that mimic natural microbial habitats can now be established by exploiting physics at the micrometer scale and by incorporating structures with specific geometries and materials. In this article, we review applications of microfluidics that have resulted in insightful discoveries on fundamental aspects of microbial life, ranging from growth and sensing to cell-cell interactions and population dynamics. We anticipate that this flexible multidisciplinary technology will continue to facilitate discoveries regarding the ecology of microorganisms and help uncover strategies to control microbial processes such as biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance.

164 citations


Cited by
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TL;DR: Recent technological and intellectual advances that have changed thinking about five questions about how have bacteria facilitated the origin and evolution of animals; how do animals and bacteria affect each other’s genomes; how does normal animal development depend on bacterial partners; and how is homeostasis maintained between animals and their symbionts are highlighted.
Abstract: In the last two decades, the widespread application of genetic and genomic approaches has revealed a bacterial world astonishing in its ubiquity and diversity. This review examines how a growing knowledge of the vast range of animal–bacterial interactions, whether in shared ecosystems or intimate symbioses, is fundamentally altering our understanding of animal biology. Specifically, we highlight recent technological and intellectual advances that have changed our thinking about five questions: how have bacteria facilitated the origin and evolution of animals; how do animals and bacteria affect each other’s genomes; how does normal animal development depend on bacterial partners; how is homeostasis maintained between animals and their symbionts; and how can ecological approaches deepen our understanding of the multiple levels of animal–bacterial interaction. As answers to these fundamental questions emerge, all biologists will be challenged to broaden their appreciation of these interactions and to include investigations of the relationships between and among bacteria and their animal partners as we seek a better understanding of the natural world.

2,103 citations

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TL;DR: This Consensus Statement documents the central role and global importance of microorganisms in climate change biology and puts humanity on notice that the impact of climate change will depend heavily on responses of micro organisms, which are essential for achieving an environmentally sustainable future.
Abstract: In the Anthropocene, in which we now live, climate change is impacting most life on Earth. Microorganisms support the existence of all higher trophic life forms. To understand how humans and other life forms on Earth (including those we are yet to discover) can withstand anthropogenic climate change, it is vital to incorporate knowledge of the microbial 'unseen majority'. We must learn not just how microorganisms affect climate change (including production and consumption of greenhouse gases) but also how they will be affected by climate change and other human activities. This Consensus Statement documents the central role and global importance of microorganisms in climate change biology. It also puts humanity on notice that the impact of climate change will depend heavily on responses of microorganisms, which are essential for achieving an environmentally sustainable future.

963 citations

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TL;DR: This review outlines the role of these interactions in key evolutionary events such as endosymbiosis, besides their ecological role in biogeochemical cycles, and focuses on extending such studies on algal-bacterial interactions to various environmental and bio-technological applications.

730 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: How the spatial arrangement of genotypes within a community influences the cooperative and competitive cell–cell interactions that define biofilm form and function is discussed.
Abstract: Bacteria often live within matrix-embedded communities, termed biofilms, which are now understood to be a major mode of microbial life. The study of biofilms has revealed their vast complexity both in terms of resident species composition and phenotypic diversity. Despite this complexity, theoretical and experimental work in the past decade has identified common principles for understanding microbial biofilms. In this Review, we discuss how the spatial arrangement of genotypes within a community influences the cooperative and competitive cell-cell interactions that define biofilm form and function. Furthermore, we argue that a perspective rooted in ecology and evolution is fundamental to progress in microbiology.

699 citations

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TL;DR: Recent progress in the study of marine microbial surface colonization and biofilm development is synthesized and discussed and questions are posed for targeted investigation of surface-specific community-level microbial features to advance understanding ofsurface-associated microbial community ecology and the biogeochemical functions of these communities.
Abstract: SUMMARY Biotic and abiotic surfaces in marine waters are rapidly colonized by microorganisms. Surface colonization and subsequent biofilm formation and development provide numerous advantages to these organisms and support critical ecological and biogeochemical functions in the changing marine environment. Microbial surface association also contributes to deleterious effects such as biofouling, biocorrosion, and the persistence and transmission of harmful or pathogenic microorganisms and their genetic determinants. The processes and mechanisms of colonization as well as key players among the surface-associated microbiota have been studied for several decades. Accumulating evidence indicates that specific cell-surface, cell-cell, and interpopulation interactions shape the composition, structure, spatiotemporal dynamics, and functions of surface-associated microbial communities. Several key microbial processes and mechanisms, including (i) surface, population, and community sensing and signaling, (ii) intraspecies and interspecies communication and interaction, and (iii) the regulatory balance between cooperation and competition, have been identified as critical for the microbial surface association lifestyle. In this review, recent progress in the study of marine microbial surface colonization and biofilm development is synthesized and discussed. Major gaps in our knowledge remain. We pose questions for targeted investigation of surface-specific community-level microbial features, answers to which would advance our understanding of surface-associated microbial community ecology and the biogeochemical functions of these communities at levels from molecular mechanistic details through systems biological integration.

696 citations