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Sci Rep. 2015 Feb 27;5:8562. doi: 10.1038/srep08562.

Symbiodinium thermophilum sp. nov., a thermotolerant symbiotic alga prevalent in corals of the world's hottest sea, the Persian/Arabian Gulf.

Author information

1
Coral Reef Laboratory. Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK.
2
Marine Biology Laboratory, Centre for Genomics and Systems Biology, New York University - Abu Dhabi, PO Box 129 188, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
3
Department of Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4QD, UK.
4
1] Coral Reef Laboratory. Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, SO14 3ZH, UK [2] Institute for Life Sciences, University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK.

Abstract

Coral reefs are in rapid decline on a global scale due to human activities and a changing climate. Shallow water reefs depend on the obligatory symbiosis between the habitat forming coral host and its algal symbiont from the genus Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae). This association is highly sensitive to thermal perturbations and temperatures as little as 1°C above the average summer maxima can cause the breakdown of this symbiosis, termed coral bleaching. Predicting the capacity of corals to survive the expected increase in seawater temperatures depends strongly on our understanding of the thermal tolerance of the symbiotic algae. Here we use molecular phylogenetic analysis of four genetic markers to describe Symbiodinium thermophilum, sp. nov. from the Persian/Arabian Gulf, a thermally tolerant coral symbiont. Phylogenetic inference using the non-coding region of the chloroplast psbA gene resolves S. thermophilum as a monophyletic lineage with large genetic distances from any other ITS2 C3 type found outside the Gulf. Through the characterisation of Symbiodinium associations of 6 species (5 genera) of Gulf corals, we demonstrate that S. thermophilum is the prevalent symbiont all year round in the world's hottest sea, the southern Persian/Arabian Gulf.

PMID:
25720577
PMCID:
PMC4342558
DOI:
10.1038/srep08562
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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