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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 14, 2024
  2. Abstract

    The dominant benthic primary producers in coral reef ecosystems are complex holobionts with diverse microbiomes and metabolomes. In this study, we characterize the tissue metabolomes and microbiomes of corals, macroalgae, and crustose coralline algae via an intensive, replicated synoptic survey of a single coral reef system (Waimea Bay, Oʻahu, Hawaii) and use these results to define associations between microbial taxa and metabolites specific to different hosts. Our results quantify and constrain the degree of host specificity of tissue metabolomes and microbiomes at both phylum and genus level. Both microbiome and metabolomes were distinct between calcifiers (corals and CCA) and erect macroalgae. Moreover, our multi-omics investigations highlight common lipid-based immune response pathways across host organisms. In addition, we observed strong covariation among several specific microbial taxa and metabolite classes, suggesting new metabolic roles of symbiosis to further explore.

  3. Recent developments in molecular networking have expanded our ability to characterize the metabolome of diverse samples that contain a significant proportion of ion features with no mass spectral match to known compounds. Manual and tool-assisted natural annotation propagation is readily used to classify molecular networks; however, currently no annotation propagation tools leverage consensus confidence strategies enabled by hierarchical chemical ontologies or enable the use of new in silico tools without significant modification. Herein we present ConCISE (Consensus Classifications of In Silico Elucidations) which is the first tool to fuse molecular networking, spectral library matching and in silico class predictions to establish accurate putative classifications for entire subnetworks. By limiting annotation propagation to only structural classes which are identical for the majority of ion features within a subnetwork, ConCISE maintains a true positive rate greater than 95% across all levels of the ChemOnt hierarchical ontology used by the ClassyFire annotation software (superclass, class, subclass). The ConCISE framework expanded the proportion of reliable and consistent ion feature annotation up to 76%, allowing for improved assessment of the chemo-diversity of dissolved organic matter pools from three complex marine metabolomics datasets comprising dominant reef primary producers, five species of the diatom genus Pseudo-nitzchia, andmore »stromatolite sediment samples.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  4. Abstract Background Gut microorganisms aid in the digestion of food by providing exogenous metabolic pathways to break down organic compounds. An integration of longitudinal microbial and chemical data is necessary to illuminate how gut microorganisms supplement the energetic and nutritional requirements of animals. Although mammalian gut systems are well-studied in this capacity, the role of microbes in the breakdown and utilization of recalcitrant marine macroalgae in herbivorous fish is relatively understudied and an emerging priority for bioproduct extraction. Here we use a comprehensive survey of the marine herbivorous fish gut microbial ecosystem via parallel 16S rRNA gene amplicon profiling (microbiota) and untargeted tandem mass spectrometry (metabolomes) to demonstrate consistent transitions among 8 gut subsections across five fish of the genus of Kyphosus . Results Integration of microbial phylogenetic and chemical diversity data reveals that microbial communities and metabolomes covaried and differentiated continuously from stomach to hindgut, with the midgut containing multiple distinct and previously uncharacterized microenvironments and a distinct hindgut community dominated by obligate anaerobes. This differentiation was driven primarily by anaerobic gut endosymbionts of the classes Bacteroidia and Clostridia changing in concert with bile acids, small peptides, and phospholipids: bile acid deconjugation associated with early midgut microbiota, small peptidemore »production associated with midgut microbiota, and phospholipid production associated with hindgut microbiota. Conclusions The combination of microbial and untargeted metabolomic data at high spatial resolution provides a new view of the diverse fish gut microenvironment and serves as a foundation to understand functional partitioning of microbial activities that contribute to the digestion of complex macroalgae in herbivorous marine fish.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  5. Microbial natural products are a major source of bioactive compounds for drug discovery. Among these molecules, nonribosomal peptides (NRPs) represent a diverse class of natural products that include antibiotics, immunosuppressants, and anticancer agents. Recent breakthroughs in natural product discovery have revealed the chemical structure of several thousand NRPs. However, biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs) encoding them are known only for a few hundred compounds. Here, we developed Nerpa, a computational method for the high-throughput discovery of novel BGCs responsible for producing known NRPs. After searching 13,399 representative bacterial genomes from the RefSeq repository against 8368 known NRPs, Nerpa linked 117 BGCs to their products. We further experimentally validated the predicted BGC of ngercheumicin from Photobacterium galatheae via mass spectrometry. Nerpa supports searching new genomes against thousands of known NRP structures, and novel molecular structures against tens of thousands of bacterial genomes. The availability of these tools can enhance our understanding of NRP synthesis and the function of their biosynthetic enzymes.
  6. Metabolites exuded by primary producers comprise a significant fraction of marine dissolved organic matter, a poorly characterized, heterogenous mixture that dictates microbial metabolism and biogeochemical cycling. We present a foundational untargeted molecular analysis of exudates released by coral reef primary producers using liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry to examine compounds produced by two coral species and three types of algae (macroalgae, turfing microalgae, and crustose coralline algae [CCA]) from Mo’orea, French Polynesia. Of 10,568 distinct ion features recovered from reef and mesocosm waters, 1,667 were exuded by producers; the majority (86%) were organism specific, reflecting a clear divide between coral and algal exometabolomes. These data allowed us to examine two tenets of coral reef ecology at the molecular level. First, stoichiometric analyses show a significantly reduced nominal carbon oxidation state of algal exometabolites than coral exometabolites, illustrating one ecological mechanism by which algal phase shifts engender fundamental changes in the biogeochemistry of reef biomes. Second, coral and algal exometabolomes were differentially enriched in organic macronutrients, revealing a mechanism for reef nutrient-recycling. Coral exometabolomes were enriched in diverse sources of nitrogen and phosphorus, including tyrosine derivatives, oleoyl-taurines, and acyl carnitines. Exometabolites of CCA and turf algae were significantly enriched in nitrogen withmore »distinct signals from polyketide macrolactams and alkaloids, respectively. Macroalgal exometabolomes were dominated by nonnitrogenous compounds, including diverse prenol lipids and steroids. This study provides molecular-level insights into biogeochemical cycling on coral reefs and illustrates how changing benthic cover on reefs influences reef water chemistry with implications for microbial metabolism.« less
  7. The rapidly advancing field of metabolomics encompasses a diverse suite of powerful analytical and bioinformatic tools that can help to reveal the diversity and activity of chemical compounds in individual organisms, species interactions, and entire ecosystems. In this perspective we use examples from studies of coral reefs to illustrate ways in which metabolomics has been and can be applied to understand coastal ecosystems. Examples of new insights that can be provided by metabolomics include resolving metabolite exchange between plants, animals and their microbiota, identifying the relevant metabolite exchanges associated with the onset and maintenance of diverse, microbial mutualisms characterizing unknown molecules that act as cues in coral, reproduction, or defining the suites of compounds involved in coral-algal competition and microbialization of algal-dominated ecosystems. Here we outline sampling, analytical and informatic methods that marine biologists and ecologists can apply to understand the role of chemical processes in ecosystems, with a focus on open access data analysis workflows and democratized databases. Finally, we demonstrate how these metabolomics tools and bioinformatics approaches can provide scientists the opportunity to map detailed metabolic inventories and dynamics for a holistic view of the relationships among reef organisms, their symbionts and their surrounding marine environment.
  8. Schadt, Christopher W. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Many ant species grow fungus gardens that predigest food as an essential step of the ants’ nutrient uptake. These symbiotic fungus gardens have long been studied and feature a gradient of increasing substrate degradation from top to bottom. To further facilitate the study of fungus gardens and enable the understanding of the predigestion process in more detail than currently known, we applied recent mass spectrometry-based approaches and generated a three-dimensional (3D) molecular map of an Atta texana fungus garden to reveal chemical modifications as plant substrates pass through it. The metabolomics approach presented in this study can be applied to study similar processes in natural environments to compare with lab-maintained ecosystems. IMPORTANCE The study of complex ecosystems requires an understanding of the chemical processes involving molecules from several sources. Some of the molecules present in fungus-growing ants’ symbiotic system originate from plants. To facilitate the study of fungus gardens from a chemical perspective, we provide a molecular map of an Atta texana fungus garden to reveal chemical modifications as plant substrates pass through it. The metabolomics approach presented in this study can be applied to study similar processes in natural environments.