Prevalent and persistent viral infection in cultures of the coral algal endosymbiont Symbiodinium
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Reef corals are under threat from bleaching and disease outbreaks that target both the host animal and the algal symbionts within the coral holobiont. A viral origin for coral bleaching has been hypothesized, but direct evidence has remained elusive. Using a multifaceted approach incorporating flow cytometry, transmission electron microscopy, DNA and RNA virome sequencing, we show that type C1 Symbiodinium cultures host a nucleocytoplasmic large double-stranded DNA virus (NCLDV) related to Phycodnaviridae and Mimiviridae, a novel filamentous virus of unknown phylogenetic affiliation, and a single-stranded RNA virus related to retroviruses. We discuss implications of these findings for laboratory-based experiments using Symbiodinium cultures.
KeywordsViruses Symbiodinium Symbiosis Dinoflagellate cultures Coral bleaching Scleractinia
We acknowledge the technical support from Victor Beltran at the AIMS Symbiont Culture Facility and the scientific and technical assistance of the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility (AMMRF) at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, The University of Western Australia, a facility funded by the University and the Western Australian and Australian governments. We acknowledge funding from the Australian Research Council SuperScience Fellowship #FS110200034 to K.D.W. and Future Fellowships #FT100100088 and #FT120100480 to M.v.O and N.S.W., respectively. Research reported in this publication was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
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