Symbiodinium biogeography tracks environmental patterns rather than host genetics in a key Caribbean reef-builder, Orbicella annularis
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Open access. © 2016 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
The physiological performance of a reef-building coral is a combined outcome of both the coral host and its algal endosymbionts, Symbiodinium While Orbicella annularis-a dominant reef-building coral in the Wider Caribbean-is known to be a flexible host in terms of the diversity of Symbiodinium types it can associate with, it is uncertain how this diversity varies across the Caribbean, and whether spatial variability in the symbiont community is related to either O. annularis genotype or environment. Here, we target the Symbiodinium-ITS2 gene to characterize and map dominant Symbiodinium hosted by O. annularis at an unprecedented spatial scale. We reveal northwest-southeast partitioning across the Caribbean, both in terms of the dominant symbiont taxa hosted and in assemblage diversity. Multivariate regression analyses incorporating a suite of environmental and genetic factors reveal that observed spatial patterns are predominantly explained by chronic thermal stress (summer temperatures) and are unrelated to host genotype. Furthermore, we were able to associate the presence of specific Symbiodinium types with local environmental drivers (for example, Symbiodinium C7 with areas experiencing cooler summers, B1j with nutrient loading and B17 with turbidity), associations that have not previously been described.
This project was funded primarily by an NERC grant, no. NE/E010393/1 (J.R.S. and P.J.M.), European Union FP7 project Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment (FORCE) under grant agreement no. 244161 (P.J.M. and J.R.S.) and a University of Exeter studentship (E.V.K.).
This is the final version of the article. Available from the Royal Society via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 283 (1842), article 20161938
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