Cecilie Ravn Gøtze - AIMS@JCU

Cecilie Ravn Gøtze


School of biosciences

Cecilie Ravn Gøtze


School of biosciences
The minimal microbiome of corals

Cecilie Ravn Gøtze carried out a Master of biology at the University of Copenhagen where her research was primarily focused on microbial diversity in the gastrovascular cavity of the coral Galaxea fascicularis. Her main academic research lies within the field of molecular microbial ecology. Specifically, she is highly interested in the holobiont concept in corals, what essential processes bacterial symbionts perform in hospite and how they potentially impact the host microenvironment.

The minimal microbiome of corals

2020 to 2023

Project Description

Deciphering the coral minimal microbiome: identity, function and evolutionary response to climate change

Project Importance

By characterizing the taxonomic composition and functional potential of the minimal bacterial microbiome of
coral will provide information on the critical metabolic pathways to holobiont functioning provided by

By localizing members of the minimal bacterial microbiome within the coral holobiont we could provide important insights into interactions with coral and Symbiodiniaceae,

Lastly, the study of the exchange of metabolites between specific bacterial associates, the coral, and its symbiotic algae will provide fundamental information on the function of the bacterial associates

Project Methods

A multidisciplinary approach will be used to decipher the critical functions of naturally occurring, low-diversity bacterial microbiomes of coral. Replicate colonies of one or several scleractinian coral species with known low-diversity microbiomes will be sampled from Australia’s GBR and processed at AIMS immediately after field collection. Subsequent analysis will include:
I. Metabarcoding/metagenomics on sorted cells to characterize the minimal microbiome of coral II. Pure culturing, genome/plasmid sequencing, phenotypic potential; III. Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI)/ Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH).

Project Results

Coral 16S rRNA gene metabarcoding studies have revealed that while many corals associate with several hundred and sometimes even more than a thousand different bacterial taxa, adult colonies of some Acropora spp. partner with as few as 30–50 taxa with only one
or a few of these dominating the communities. It is therefore hypothesized that there is little functional redundancy within these low-diversity communities and that they resemble minimal microbiomes, i.e., the smallest but functionally indispensable subset of the total microbiome.


Climate change,
Coastal development,
Controlled Environment,
Coral reefs,
Management tools,
Manipulative experiments,
Molecular techniques,
Ocean acidification,
Ocean warming,

Supervised By:

Libby Evans-Illidge (JCU)

Lone Høj (AIMS)

Madeleine van Oppen (AIMS)

Linda Blackall (AIMS)