Many different microorganisms associate with the coral host in a single entity known as the holobiont, and their interactions with the host contribute to coral health, thereby making them a fundamental part of reef function, survival, and conservation. As corals continue to be susceptible to bleaching due to environmental stress, coral-associated bacteria may have a potential role in alleviating bleaching. This review provides a synthesis of the various roles bacteria have in coral physiology and development, and explores the possibility that changes in the microbiome with environmental stress could have major implications in how corals acclimatize and survive. Recent studies on the interactions between the coral's algal and bacterial symbionts elucidate how bacteria may stabilize algal health and, therefore, mitigate bleaching. A summary of the innovative tools and experiments to examine host–microbe interactions in other cnidarians (a temperate coral, a jellyfish, two anemones, and a freshwater hydroid) is offered in this review to delineate our current knowledge of mechanisms underlying microbial establishment and maintenance in the animal host. A better understanding of these mechanisms may enhance the success of maintaining probiotics long-term in corals as a conservation strategy.

You do not currently have access to this content.