[Coral-List] Thoughts on "Coral Holobiont" Phrase
hodel at nova.edu
hodel at nova.edu
Mon Jul 16 13:11:12 EDT 2007
Several months ago, I posted a message inquiring about the origin of
the phrase coral holobiont. Although I did not find the first
person to definitively use the phrase coral holobiont, one of the
two responses I received suggested Dr. Lynn Margulis may have been the
one to coin the word holobiont in her contributions to endosymbiotic
A general definition of holobiont is a host-symbiont partnership
(Santiago-Vázquez et al., 2006), though the word does not appear in
online dictionaries or encyclopedias. Web searches for holobiont
are very coral-centric. Perhaps our discipline has adopted and uses
it more so than other biological disciplines? Coral papers have used
the phrase coral holobiont to refer to the symbiosis between coral
animals and zooxanthellae (e.g., Rowan, 1998). However, more recent
papers use it to refer to the coral animal, zooxanthellae, and
associated microbiota (i.e., bacteria, fungi and/or archaea) (e.g.
Wegley et al., 2004). As research and technology have advanced our
understanding of corals and associated organisms, it seems the
definition has adapted accordingly.
The term also appeared in the title of one of the sessions in the last
ASLO summer meeting in Honolulu (Coral Holobiont, Coral Health and
Disease, and Environmental Change), supporting its growing use and
popularity. Apologies if I have left out other significant
contributions to this phrase.
Law, R. and U. Dieckmann. 1998. Symbiosis through exploitation and the
merger of lineages in evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society of
London B, 265: 1245-1253.
Margulis, L. 1993. Symbiosis in cell evolution, 2nd edn. New York: W.
Rowan, R. 1998. Diversity and ecology of zooxanthellae on coral reefs
(review). Journal of Phycology, 34(3): 407-417.
Santiago-Vázquez, L. Z., L. K. Ranzer, and R. G. Kerr. 2006.
Comparison of two total RNA extraction protocols using the marine
gorgonian coral Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae and its symbiont
Symbiodinium sp. Electronic Journal of Biotechnology [online], 5(9).
Wegley, L., Y. Yu, M. Breitbart, V. Casas, D.I. Kline, and F. Rohwer.
2004. Coral-associated Archaea. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 273:
Erin C. Hodel, M.S.
Project Scientist 1
CSA International, Inc.
759 Parkway Street
Jupiter, Florida 33477
Tel: (561) 746-7946
Fax: (561) 747-2954
Email: ehodel at conshelf.com
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