Application of 1H-NMR metabolomic profiling for reef-building corals.
In light of global reef decline new methods to accurately, cheaply, and quickly evaluate coral metabolic states are needed to assess reef health. Metabolomic profiling can describe the response of individuals to disturbance (i.e., shifts in environmental conditions) across biological models and is a powerful approach for characterizing and comparing coral metabolism. For the first time, we assess the utility of a proton-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-NMR)-based metabolomics approach in characterizing coral metabolite profiles by 1) investigating technical, intra-, and inter-sample variation, 2) evaluating the ability to recover targeted metabolite spikes, and 3) assessing the potential for this method to differentiate among coral species. Our results indicate 1H-NMR profiling of Porites compressa corals is highly reproducible and exhibits low levels of variability within and among colonies. The spiking experiments validate the sensitivity of our methods and showcase the capacity of orthogonal partial least squares discriminate analysis (OPLS-DA) to distinguish between profiles spiked with varying metabolite concentrations (0 mM, 0.1 mM, and 10 mM). Finally, 1H-NMR metabolomics coupled with OPLS-DA, revealed species-specific patterns in metabolite profiles among four reef-building corals (Pocillopora damicornis, Porites lobata, Montipora aequituberculata, and Seriatopora hystrix). Collectively, these data indicate that 1H-NMR metabolomic techniques can profile reef-building coral metabolomes and have the potential to provide an integrated picture of the coral phenotype in response to environmental change.