Introduction: From shallow water to the deep sea, corals form the basis of diverse communities with significant ecological and economic value. These communities face many anthropogenic stressors including energy and mineral extraction activities, ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures. Corals and their symbionts produce a diverse assemblage of compounds that may help provide resilience to some of these stressors. Objectives: We aim to characterize the metabolomic diversity of deep-sea corals in an ecological context by investigating patterns across space and phylogeny. Methods: We applied untargeted Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry to examine the metabolomic diversity of the deep-sea coral, Callogorgia delta, across three sites in the Northern Gulf of Mexico as well as three other deep-sea corals, Stichopathes sp., Leiopathes glaberrima, and Lophelia pertusa, and a shallow-water species, Acropora palmata. Results: Different coral species exhibited distinct metabolomic fingerprints and differences in metabolomic richness including core ions unique to each species. C. delta was generally least diverse while Lophelia pertusa was most diverse. C. delta from different sites had different metabolomic fingerprints and metabolomic richness at individual and population levels, although no sites exhibited unique core ions. Two core ions unique to C. delta were putatively identified as diterpenes and thus may possess a biologically important function. Conclusion: Deep-sea coral species have distinct metabolomic fingerprints and exhibit high metabolomic diversity at multiple scales which may contribute to their capabilities to respond to both natural and anthropogenic stressors, including climate change.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry