Resolving structure and function of metaorganisms through a holistic framework combining reductionist and integrative approaches.

Jaspers, Cornelia , Fraune, Sebastian, Arnold, A. Elizabeth, Miller, David J., Bosch, Thomas, Voolstra, Christian R. and Pita, Lucia_(Pt) and Consortium of Australian Academy of Science Boden Research Conference Participants (2019) Resolving structure and function of metaorganisms through a holistic framework combining reductionist and integrative approaches. Open Access Zoology, 133 . pp. 81-87. DOI 10.1016/j.zool.2019.02.007.

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Abstract

Current research highlights the importance of associated microbes in contributing to the functioning, health, and even adaptation of their animal, plant, and fungal hosts. As such, we are witnessing a shift in research that moves away from focusing on the eukaryotic host sensu stricto to research into the complex conglomerate of the host and its associated microorganisms (i.e., microbial eukaryotes, archaea, bacteria, and viruses), the so-called metaorganism, as the biological entity. While recent research supports and encourages the adoption of such an integrative view, it must be understood that microorganisms are not involved in all host processes and not all associated microorganisms are functionally important. As such, our intention here is to provide a critical review and evaluation of perspectives and limitations relevant to studying organisms in a metaorganism framework and the functional toolbox available to do so. We note that marker gene-guided approaches that primarily characterize microbial diversity are a first step in delineating associated microbes but are not sufficient to establish proof of their functional relevance. More sophisticated tools and experiments are necessary to reveal the specific functions of associated microbes. This can be accomplished through the study of metaorganisms in less complex environments, the targeted manipulation of microbial associates, or work at the mechanistic level with the toolbox available in model systems. We conclude that the metaorganism framework is a powerful new concept to help provide answers to longstanding biological questions such as the evolution and ecology of organismal complexity and the importance of organismal symbioses to ecosystem functioning. The intricacy of the metaorganism requires a holistic framework combining reductionist and integrative approaches to resolve metaorganism identities and to disclose the various roles that microorganisms play in the biology of their hosts.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: Pt = Participant im Consortium!
Keywords: reductionism; integrative approach; holobiont adaptation; model system; model organism
Research affiliation: Kiel University > Kiel Marine Science
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Marine Evolutionary Ecology
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-MS Marine Symbioses
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.zool.2019.02.007
ISSN: 0944-2006
Related URLs:
Projects: SFB1182
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2019 11:00
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2019 08:48
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/46076

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