Do the organic sulfur compounds DMSP and DMS drive coral microbial associations?

Trends Microbiol. 2010 Mar;18(3):101-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2009.12.002. Epub 2010 Jan 4.


Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and dimethylsulfide (DMS) are key compounds in the global sulfur cycle. Moreover, DMS is particularly important in climate regulation owing to its role in cloud formation. Reef building corals are major contributors to the production of these two compounds and also form diverse and complex associations with bacteria, which are known to play a crucial role in the degradation of DMSP and DMS. Here, we highlight an extensive overlap between bacterial species implicated in DMSP/DMS degradation and those associated with corals, leading to the hypothesis that these two compounds play a major role in structuring coral-associated bacterial communities, with important consequences for coral health and the resilience of coral reefs. We also explore the publically available metagenome databases and show that genes implicated in DMSP metabolism are abundant in the viral component of coral-reef-derived metagenomes, indicating that viruses can act as a reservoir for such genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthozoa / metabolism*
  • Anthozoa / microbiology*
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem*
  • Metagenome
  • Sulfides / metabolism*
  • Sulfonium Compounds / metabolism*
  • Viruses / genetics


  • Sulfides
  • Sulfonium Compounds
  • dimethylpropiothetin
  • dimethyl sulfide