, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 35-44
Date: 06 Feb 2007

Occurrence of the putatively heat-tolerant Symbiodinium phylotype D in high-latitudinal outlying coral communities

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Biogeographic investigations have suggested that coral-symbiont associations can adapt to higher temperatures by hosting a heat-tolerant Symbiodinium, phylotype D. It is hypothesized that phylotype D is absent in high latitudes due to its heat-tolerant characteristics. In this study, this hypothesis was tested by examining the symbiont diversity in a scleractinian coral, Oulastrea crispata, throughout its entire latitudinal distribution range in the West Pacific. Molecular phylotyping of the 5′-end of the nuclear large subunit of ribosomal DNA (lsu rDNA) indicated that phylotype D was the dominant Symbiodinium in O. crispata from the tropical reefs to the marginal non-reefal coral communities. Several colonies of tropical populations were associated with phylotype C, either alone or simultaneously with phylotype D. Analysis of the polymerase chain reaction products using single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) detected relatively low densities of phylotype C in most of the O. crispata colonies surveyed. These results provide evidence for the occurrence of phylotype D in cold-water outlying coral communities. The dominant occurrence of phylotype C in some O. crispata colonies on tropical reefs and the relatively low densities of phylotype C identified by SSCP in subtropical and temperate populations show that the dominant symbiont type can vary in this coral species and that multiple symbionts can co-occur in the same host.

Communicated by Biology Editor M. van Oppen.