G. Hadaidi, H.M. Gegner, M. Ziegler, C.R. Voolstra
Coral Reefs, pp. 1-7, (2018)
Coral mucus is continuously released by most corals and acts as an important protective barrier and as a substrate for host-associated microbial communities due to its complex composition of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. On a reef scale, coral mucus functions as a particle trap, thereby retaining nutrients and energy in the ecosystem. Given the distinct environmental conditions in the Red Sea (high temperature, high salinity, high total alkalinity), we sought to investigate the carbohydrate composition of mucus from five corals from the central Red Sea. Our aim was to assess whether mucus from Red Sea corals is different from what is known from other corals and whether those differences could be aligned to putative beneficial functions with regard to the prevailing environment. Using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, we detected nine sugars as the main prevalent carbohydrates. Although we detected significant differences between species with regard to the relative abundance of given carbohydrates, the identified sugars resembled those found in mucus from corals elsewhere, and we could corroborate high abundance of arabinose in acroporid corals. Taken together, our results suggest the presence of a common set of carbohydrates across a broad range of coral species from geographically diverse environments, highlighting the important role of mucus with regard to coral and reef ecosystem function.