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ISME J. 2018 Mar;12(3):776-790. doi: 10.1038/s41396-017-0005-9. Epub 2018 Jan 10.

Deciphering the nature of the coral-Chromera association.

Author information

1
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, 4811, QLD, Australia. am_rd85@yahoo.com.
2
Comparative Genomics Centre and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, 4811, QLD, Australia. am_rd85@yahoo.com.
3
Zoology Department, Faculty of Science, Benha University, Benha, 13518, Egypt. am_rd85@yahoo.com.
4
AIMS@JCU, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, 4811, QLD, Australia. am_rd85@yahoo.com.
5
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, 4811, QLD, Australia.
6
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, 2109, Australia.
7
Sesoko Station, Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the Ryukyus, 3422 Sesoko, Motobu, Okinawa, 905-0227, Japan.
8
Marine Genomics Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Onna, Okinawa, 904-0412, Japan.
9
Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 5-1-5, Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa-shi, Chiba, 277-8564, Japan.
10
Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia.
11
Division of Ecology and Evolution, Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Acton, ACT, 2601, Australia.
12
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, 4811, QLD, Australia. david.miller@jcu.edu.au.
13
Comparative Genomics Centre and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, 4811, QLD, Australia. david.miller@jcu.edu.au.

Abstract

Since the discovery of Chromera velia as a novel coral-associated microalga, this organism has attracted interest because of its unique evolutionary position between the photosynthetic dinoflagellates and the parasitic apicomplexans. The nature of the relationship between Chromera and its coral host is controversial. Is it a mutualism, from which both participants benefit, a parasitic relationship, or a chance association? To better understand the interaction, larvae of the common Indo-Pacific reef-building coral Acropora digitifera were experimentally infected with Chromera, and the impact on the host transcriptome was assessed at 4, 12, and 48 h post-infection using Illumina RNA-Seq technology. The transcriptomic response of the coral to Chromera was complex and implies that host immunity is strongly suppressed, and both phagosome maturation and the apoptotic machinery is modified. These responses differ markedly from those described for infection with a competent strain of the coral mutualist Symbiodinium, instead resembling those of vertebrate hosts to parasites and/or pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Consistent with ecological studies suggesting that the association may be accidental, the transcriptional response of A. digitifera larvae leads us to conclude that Chromera could be a coral parasite, commensal, or accidental bystander, but certainly not a beneficial mutualist.

PMID:
29321691
PMCID:
PMC5864212
DOI:
10.1038/s41396-017-0005-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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