Latitudinal variability in symbiont specificity within the widespread scleractinian coral Plesiastrea versipora
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We examined the genetic diversity of symbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium sp.) in the widespread hermatypic coral Plesiastrea versipora from tropical/subtropical (north-eastern Australia) and temperate waters (south-eastern Australia) using restriction fragment length polymorphisms of partial 18S ribosomal DNA (rDNA), together with sequence analysis of partial 28S rDNA. This study revealed that P. versipora associates with at least two distinct genotypes of symbiotic dinoflagellates and that the presence of these genotypes varies with latitude. P. versipora colonies from subtropical and tropical waters contained symbionts belonging to Symbiodinium clade C, while P. versipora colonies at high-latitude sites contained clade B. Variability within the two groups of symbionts (clades B and C) was minimal, suggesting possible host fidelity. The geographically distinct varieties of symbionts within the tissue of this hermatypic coral are likely to be associated with algal physiological differences, which in turn may relate to changing selective pressures as a function of latitude along the eastern Australian seaboard.
KeywordsRestriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Dinoflagellate Distinct Variety Physiological Difference Scleractinian Coral
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