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Mar Environ Res. 2012 May;76:41-7. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2011.09.004. Epub 2011 Oct 1.

Algal symbiont type affects gene expression in juveniles of the coral Acropora tenuis exposed to thermal stress.

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Department of Chemistry, Biology and Marine Science, University of the Ryukyus, 1 Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0213, Japan.


Reef-building corals harbor symbiotic dinoflagellates, Symbiodinium spp., which are currently divided into several clades. The responses of corals associated with different Symbiodinium clades to thermal stress are not well understood, especially at a gene expression level. Juveniles of the coral Acropora tenuis inoculated with different algal types (clade A or D) were exposed to thermal stress and the expression levels of four putative stress-responsive genes, including genes coding green and red fluorescent proteins, an oxidative stress-responsive protein, and an ascorbic acid transporter, were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR. The expression levels of the four genes decreased at high temperatures if juveniles were associated with clade A symbionts but increased if the symbionts were in clade D. The intensity of green fluorescence increased with temperature in clade D symbionts harboring juveniles, but not in juveniles associated with clade A symbionts. The present results suggest that genotypes of endosymbiotic algae affect the thermal stress responses of the coral juveniles.

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