The genus Symbiodinium is a dinoflagellate (Protista) that forms symbiotic relationships with many marine organisms, including several coral species (Muscatine, 1990). Symbiodinium reside within membrane bound cavities called symbiosomes located within gastrodermal cells, receiving shelter and access to sunlight. In return, Symbiodinium provide coral with photosynthetic products which promote growth, reproduction and skeletal calcification (Muscatine and Porter, 1977). Symbiodinium have been linked to host thermal tolerance (Berkelmans and van Oppen, 2006) and host disease susceptibility (Stat et al., 2008). Hence, Symbiodinium may provide coral with a mechanism to cope with increasing ocean temperatures. However, the vast majority of the research examining coral-Symbiodinium relationships has focused on Scleractinian (stony) corals, while ignoring the important reef framework building Millepores (fire coral).
The purpose of our research was to examine the Millepore-Symbiodinium relationship using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). We used clade-specific rDNA primers to detect the presence and abundance of Symbiodinium clades A through D in Millepores (N= 22) collected from various reefs surrounding San Salvador, The Bahamas. The goal of our research is to develop an understanding of Millepore-Symbiodinium diversity.
Our results showed a high prevalence of Symbiodinium clade B and a low abundance of clade A. There was no correlation between clade presence and morphology, nor a correlation between clade presence and reef location.
Shuhan Reyes, ’16
Megan Rueth, ’15
Saint Charles, IL
Sponsor: Craig Tepper