TitleHost-symbiont specificity during onset of symbiosis between the dinoflagellates Symbodinium spp and planula larvae of the scleractinian coral Fungia scutaria
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsWeis, VM, Reynolds, WS, Deboer, MD, Krupp, DA
JournalCoral Reefs
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Many corals which engage in symbioses with dinoflagellates from the genus Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae) produce offspring which initially lack zooxanthellae. These species must choose their symbionts from numerous genetically distinct strains of zooxanthellae co-occurring in the environment. In most cases, symbiosis onset results in an association between a specific host coral and a specific strain of algal symbiont. This is the first study to examine host-symbiont specificity during symbiosis onset in a larval cnidarian, arid the first to examine such events in a scleractinian of any life stage. We infected planula larvae of the solitary Hawaiian scleractinian Fungia scutaria with both homologous zooxanthellae, freshly isolate from F. scutaria adults, and heterologous zooxanthellae, isolated from Montipora verrucosa, Porites compressa, and Pocillopora damicornis, three species of scleractinians which co-occur with F. scutaria. We found that homologous zooxanthellae were better able to establish symbioses with larval hosts than were heterologous isolates, by two separate measures: percent of a larval population infected, and densities of zooxanthellae per larva. We also measured algal densities in larvae over a 4-day period until the onset of settlement and metamorphosis. We found no changes in zooxanthella population densities, regardless of zooxanthella type or the light environment in which they were incubated. Strong infection of host larvae with homologous algae compared to heterologous algae suggests that there is a specificity process which occurs sometime during the early stages of infection between the partners, and which results in the establishment of a specific symbiosis.

URL<Go to ISI>://WOS:000172560800017