Unique quantitative Symbiodiniaceae signature of coral colonies revealed through spatio-temporal survey in Moorea

Abstract : One of the mechanisms of rapid adaptation or acclimatization to environmental changes in corals is through the dynamics of the composition of their associated endosymbiotic Symbiodiniaceae community. The various species of these dinoflagellates are characterized by different biological properties, some of which can confer stress tolerance to the coral host. Compelling evidence indicates that the corals’ Symbiodiniaceae community can change via shuffling and/or switching but the ecological relevance and the governance of these processes remain elusive. Using a qPCR approach to follow the dynamics of Symbiodiniaceae genera in tagged colonies of three coral species over a 10–18 month period, we detected putative genus-level switching of algal symbionts, with coral species-specific rates of occurrence. However, the dynamics of the corals’ Symbiodiniaceae community composition was not driven by environmental parameters. On the contrary, putative shuffling event were observed in two coral species during anomalous seawater temperatures and nutrient concentrations. Most notably, our results reveal that a suit of permanent Symbiodiniaceae genera is maintained in each colony in a specific range of quantities, giving a unique ‘Symbiodiniaceae signature’ to the host. This individual signature, together with sporadic symbiont switching may account for the intra-specific differences in resistance and resilience observed during environmental anomalies.
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Héloïse Rouzé, Gael Lecellier, Xavier Pochon, Gergely Torda, Veronique Berteaux-Lecellier. Unique quantitative Symbiodiniaceae signature of coral colonies revealed through spatio-temporal survey in Moorea. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9, pp.7921. ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-44017-5⟩. ⟨hal-02350427⟩

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