Symbiodinium (Dinophyceae) community patterns in invertebrate hosts from inshore marginal reefs of the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia

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Journal Article
Journal of Phycology, 2017, 53 (3), pp. 589 - 600
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© 2017 Phycological Society of America The broad range in physiological variation displayed by Symbiodinium spp. has proven imperative during periods of environmental change and contribute to the survival of their coral host. Characterizing how host and Symbiodinium community assemblages differ across environmentally distinct habitats provides useful information to predict how corals will respond to major environmental change. Despite the extensive characterizations of Symbiodinium diversity found amongst reef cnidarians on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) substantial biogeographic gaps exist, especially across inshore habitats. Here, we investigate Symbiodinium community patterns in invertebrates from inshore and mid-shelf reefs on the southern GBR, Australia. Dominant Symbiodinium types were characterized using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis fingerprinting and sequencing of the ITS2 region of the ribosomal DNA. Twenty one genetically distinct Symbiodinium types including four novel types were identified from 321 reef-invertebrate samples comprising three sub-generic clades (A, C, and D). A range of host genera harbored C22a, which is normally rare or absent from inshore or low latitude reefs in the GBR. Multivariate analysis showed that host identity and sea surface temperature best explained the variation in symbiont communities across sites. Patterns of changes in Symbiodinium community assemblage over small geographic distances (100s of kilometers or less) indicate the likelihood that shifts in Symbiodinium distributions and associated host populations, may occur in response to future climate change impacting the GBR.
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