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, O'ahu, 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.
© 2023. Springer Nature Limited.