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Biol Bull. 2005 Dec;209(3):227-34.

Stable Symbiodinium composition in the sea fan Gorgonia ventalina during temperature and disease stress.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, 109 Cooke Hall, University at Buffalo (State University of New York), Buffalo, New York 14260, USA.


Like most Caribbean octocorals, Gorgonia ventalina, the common sea fan, harbors endosymbiotic dinoflagellates belonging to the genus Symbiodinium. When stressed, the host can lose these algal symbionts, a phenomenon termed "bleaching." Many cnidarians host multiple types of algal symbionts within the genus Symbiodinium, and certain types of algae may be more tolerant of stress than others. We examined the effects of temperature, temperature-induced bleaching, and infection by Aspergillus sydowii, a fungal pathogen, on Symbiodinium types harbored by the sea fan Gorgonia ventalina in the Florida Keys. Symbiont type, identified on the basis of variation in small subunit nuclear ribosomal genes or large subunit chloroplast ribosomal genes, did not vary with temperature treatment or infection status. Although allelic variation based on one microsatellite locus was found among samples and reef site, it did not consistently correlate with temperature, treatment, or disease status, suggesting that the symbiont-host relationship is stable. An aberrant PCR product was found in samples collected at one site and could be used to differentiate Symbiodinium populations among sites in the Florida Keys.

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