Hologenomic investigation of in hospite microbial symbionts in reef-building corals across the Great Barrier Reef

Reef-building corals harbour diverse communities of microbial symbionts that are critical to host health and survival. However, the complexity and unculturability of many coral microbiomes hamper the in-depth characterisation of compositional dynamics and diversity of microbial symbionts. To address these challenges, I will investigate population genomic data from ~1000 coral holobionts (i.e. hologenomic data) across the Great Barrier Reef in my PhD. These culture-independent data from high-throughput sequencing are dominated by host coral genomic sequences, yet they provide access to whole-genome data from in hospite microbial symbionts in coral tissues. Leveraging these extensive data, I aim to characterise the spatial genomic variation of the microbial community with respect to host coral genotypes and environmental gradients, and to reconstruct de novo symbiont genomes based on distinct data compositions of the microbial community. Overall, these studies will provide a molecular and mechanistic understanding of the functional roles that microbial communities play in the coral holobiont over large geographical scales.