Every refuge has its price: Ostreobium as a model for understanding how algae can live in rock and stay in business

Kshitij Tandon, Marisa M. Pasella, Cintia Iha, Francesco Ricci, Juntong Hu, Charles J. O'Kelly, Mónica Medina, Michael Kühl, Heroen Verbruggen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Ostreobium is a siphonous green alga in the Bryopsidales (Chlorophyta) that burrows into calcium carbonate (CaCO3) substrates. In this habitat, it lives under environmental conditions unusual for an alga (i.e., low light and low oxygen) and it is a major agent of carbonate reef bioerosion. In coral skeletons, Ostreobium can form conspicuous green bands recognizable by the naked eye and it is thought to contribute to the coral's nutritional needs. With coral reefs in global decline, there is a renewed focus on understanding Ostreobium biology and its roles in the coral holobiont. This review summarizes knowledge on Ostreobium's morphological structure, biodiversity and evolution, photosynthesis, mechanism of bioerosion and its role as a member of the coral holobiont. We discuss the resources available to study Ostreobium biology, lay out some of the uncharted territories in Ostreobium biology and offer perspectives for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Cell & Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioerosion
  • Corals
  • Endolith
  • Low-light photosynthesis
  • Ostreobium
  • Siphonous green algae

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