Disentangling compartment functions in sessile marine invertebrates

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  • David J. Hughes
  • Jean-Baptiste Raina
  • Daniel A. Nielsen
  • David J. Suggett
  • Kuhl, Michael

Sessile invertebrates are frequently sampled and processed whole for downstream analyses. However, their apparent structural simplicity is deceptive as these organisms often harbour discrete compartments. These compartments have physicochemical conditions that differ markedly from neighbouring tissues, and that have likely evolved to support specific functions. Here, we argue that such compartments should be specifically targeted when characterising sessile invertebrate biology and we use the coral gastrovascular cavity to support our argument. This complex compartment displays steep and dynamic chemical gradients, harbours distinct microorganisms, and presumably plays a key role in coral biology. Disentangling the functions played by (and amongst) compartments will likely provide transformative insight into the biology of sessile invertebrates and their future under environmental change.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Ecology & Evolution
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)740-748
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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