Unlocking the black-box of inorganic carbon-uptake and utilization strategies among coral endosymbionts (Symbiodiniaceae)
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- Journal Article
- Limnology and Oceanography, 2020
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© 2020 Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Dinoflagellates within the family Symbiodiniaceae are widespread and fuel metabolism of reef-forming corals through photosynthesis. Adaptation in capacity to harvest and utilize light, and “safely” process photosynthetically generated energy is a key factor regulating their broad ecological success. However, whether such adaptive capacity similarly extends to how Symbiodiniaceae species and genotypes assimilate inorganic carbon (Ci) remains unexplored. We build on recent approaches exploring functional diversity of fitness traits to identify whether Ci uptake and incorporation could be reconciled with evolutionary adaptation among Symbiodiniaceae. We examined phylogenetically diverse Symbiodiniaceae cultures (23 isolates, 6 genera) to track how carbon was invested into cellular uptake, excretion, and growth (cell size, division, storage). Gross carbon uptake rates (GPC) over 1 h varied among isolates grown at 26°C (0.63–3.08 pg C [cell h]−1) with no evident pattern with algal phylogeny. Intriguingly, net carbon uptake rates (24 h) were often higher (1.01–5.54 pg C [cell h]−1) than corresponding values of GPC—we discuss how such GPC measurements may reflect highly conserved biological characteristics for cultured cells linked to high metabolic dependency on photorespiration and heterotrophy. Three isolates from different genera (Cladocopium goreaui, Durusdinium trenchii, and Effrenium voratum) were additionally grown at 20°C and 30°C. Here, Ci uptake consistently decreased with temperature-driven declines in growth rate, suggesting environmental regulation outweighs phylogenetic organization of carbon assimilation capacity among Symbiodiniaceae. Together, these data demonstrate environmental regulation and ecological success among Symbiodiniaceae likely rests on plasticity of upstream photosynthetic processes (light harvesting, energy quenching, etc.) to overcome evolutionary-conserved limitations in Ci functioning.
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