An active northern star coral under a microscope
An active northern star coral under a microscope. When dormant, scientists found that its microbiome shifts while it sleeps. (Alicia Schickle/Roger Williams University)

Hibernating Corals and the Microbiomes That Sustain Them

Microbial Communities Shift While a Coral Sleeps Through the Winter

As winter approaches, many species of animals — from bears and squirrels to parasitic wasps and a few lucky humans — hunker down for some needed rest. The northern star coral (Astrangia poculata) also enters a hibernating state of dormancy, or quiescence, during this time. But what happens to its microbiome while it’s sleeping?

A study led by University of California, Davis, Assistant Professor Anya Brown found that microbial communities shift while this coral enters dormancy, providing it an important seasonal reset. The work may carry implications for coral in warmer waters struggling with climate change and other environmental issues.


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