Indo-Pacific reef corals growing for years in closed-system aquaria provide an alternate means to investigate host-symbiont specificity and stability. The diversity of dinoflagellate endosymbionts (Symbiodinium spp.) from coral communities in private and public aquaria was investigated using molecular-genetic analyses. Of the 29 symbiont types (i.e., species) identified, 90% belonged to the most prevalent group of Symbiodinium harbored by Indo-Pacific reef corals, Clade C, while the rest belonged to Clade D. Sixty-five percent of all types were known from field surveys conducted throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans. Because specific coral-dinoflagellate partnerships appear to have defined geographic distributions, correspondence of the same symbionts in aquarium and field-collected specimens identifies regions where particular colonies must have been collected in the wild. Symbiodinium spp. in clade D, believed to be "stress-tolerant" and/or "opportunistic," occurred in a limited number of individual colonies. The absence of a prevalent, or "weedy," symbiont suggests that conditions under which aquarium corals are grown do not favor competitive replacements of their native symbiont populations. The finding of typical and diverse assemblages of Symbiodinium spp. among aquarium corals living many years under variable chemical/physical conditions, artificial and natural light, while undergoing fragmentation periodically, indicates that individual colonies maintain stable, long-term symbiotic associations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science
- Plant Science