A community perspective on the concept of marine holobionts: current status, challenges, and future directions

Host-microbe interactions play crucial roles in marine ecosystems, but we still have very little understanding of the mechanisms that govern these relationships, the evolutionary processes that shape them, and their ecological consequences. The holobiont concept is a renewed paradigm in biology that can help describe and understand these complex systems. It posits that a host and its associated microbiota, living together in a long-lasting relationship, form the holobiont, and have to be studied together, as a coherent biological and functional unit, in order to understand the biology, ecology and evolution of the organisms. Here we discuss critical concepts and opportunities in marine holobiont research and identify key challenges in the field. We highlight the potential economic, sociological, and environmental impacts of the holobiont concept in marine biological, evolutionary, and environmental sciences with comparisons to terrestrial science whenever appropriate. A deeper understanding of such complex systems, however, will require further technological and conceptual advances. The most significant challenge will be to bridge functional research on simple and tractable model systems and global approaches. This will require scientists to work together as an (inter)active community in order to address, for instance, ecological and evolutionary questions and the roles of holobionts in biogeochemical cycles.


Evolution, Ecosystem services, Symbiosis, Host-microbiota interactions, Marine holobionts, Dysbiosis

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10.7287/peerj.preprints.27519v1 - Preprint 1
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10.7287/peerj.preprints.27519v3 - Preprint 3
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Dittami Simon M, Arboleda Enrique, Auguet Jean-Christophe, Bigalke Arite, Briand Enora, Cardenas Paco, Cardini Ulisse, Decelle Johan, Engelen Aschwin, Eveillard Damien, Gachon Claire MM, Griffiths Sarah, Harder Tilmann, Kayal Ehsan, Kazamia Elena, Lallier François H, Media Monica, Marzinelli Ezequiel M, Morganti Teresa, Nunez Pons Laura, Prado Soizik, Pintado José, Saha Mahasweta, Selosse Marc-André, Skillings Derek, Stock Willem, Sunagawa Shinichi, Toulza Eve, Vorobev Alexey, Leblanc Catherine, Not Fabrice (2021). A community perspective on the concept of marine holobionts: current status, challenges, and future directions. Peerj. 9. e10911 (34p.). https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10911, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00480/59209/

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