Re ECF Project: ECF 2016-15

Project Title: Genomic analysis of coral associated bacteria in Hong Kong waters

Applicant: Dr. LUO Haiwei, School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Total Approved Grant: $998,673

Duration: 1/6/2017 to 30/11/2019

Project Status/Remarks: On-going

Coral-microbial associations are fundamental to coral health and resilience of coral reefs. This project aims to establish a comprehensive culture collection of bacteria associated with corals and gain understandings of the functional role of members of the marine Roseobacter clade, a sub-family level alphaproteobacterial lineage accounting for up to 50% of the coral mucus microbiomes. Previous studies consistently show that roseobacters become more abundant when corals, including those found in Hong Kong waters, become diseased or under stressful conditions, and thus considered roseobacters as opportunistic pathogens. Other studies demonstrated that some roseobacters act as probiotics against pathogens and may play a role in preventing coral bleaching. They are not necessarily contradictory, because different Roseobacter lineages may act as mutualists, commensals, and pathogens, respectively. Here, we propose to select 192 Roseobacter pure cultures from local coral holobionts and surrounding seawater, perform whole genome sequencing, and leverage phylogenomic and population genomic approaches to investigate the evolution and adaptation of coral associated roseobacters in local marine environments. The resulting knowledge would be useful to local coral conservation.

Summary of the Findings/Outcomes:
To be available upon completion of the project