Biological Invasions

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 579–583 | Cite as

Vectored introductions of marine endosymbiotic dinoflagellates into Hawaii

  • Michael Stat
  • Ruth D. Gates
Brief Communication


Endosymbiotic dinoflagellates belonging to the genus Symbiodinium associate with a diverse range of marine invertebrate hosts and also exist free-living in the ocean. The genus is divided into eight lineages (clades A–H), which contain multiple subclade types that show geographic and host specificity. It is commonly known that free-living dinoflagellates can and have been introduced to new geographic locations, primarily through shipping ballast water. In this study we sequenced the ITS2 region of Symbiodinium found in symbiosis with the coral Acropora cytherea in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument and from shipping ballast water. Identification of an unusual symbiont in Acropora cytherea and an analysis of the distribution of this symbiont suggests an introduction to Hawaii vectored by the scyphozoan host, Cassiopea sp. Symbiodinium were also detected in shipping ballast water. This work confirms that marine invertebrate endosymbionts can be introduced to new geographic locations vectored by animal hosts or the ballast water of ships.


Ballast water Cassiopea Coral Dinoflagellate Invasive Symbiodinium 



The authors would like to thank Benjamin Wheeler for assistance in the field, Mindy Mizobe for laboratory assistance, Matson® for supplying the ballast water samples, and the captain and crew of the Hi’ialakai. Coral samples were collected in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument under a permit issued to Ruth D. Gates (DLNR.NWH106R006). The collections were implemented on a NOAA cruise and supported through funding from The National Marine Sanctuary program and Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology Reserve Partnership (NOS NMSP MOA 2005-008/6882). The Hawaii Invasive Species Council funded the ballast water work through DLNR/DAR. This is Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology Contribution No. 1290.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology/SOESTUniversity of HawaiiKaneoheUSA

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