Symbiotic associations with Symbiodiniaceae have evolved independently across a diverse range of cnidarian taxa including reef-building corals, sea anemones, and jellyfish, yet the molecular mechanisms underlying their regulation and repeated evolution are still elusive. Here, we show that despite their independent evolution, cnidarian hosts use the same carbon-nitrogen negative feedback loop to control symbiont proliferation. Symbiont-derived photosynthates are used to assimilate nitrogenous waste via glutamine synthetase–glutamate synthase-mediated amino acid biosynthesis in a carbon-dependent manner, which regulates the availability of nitrogen to the symbionts. Using nutrient supplementation experiments, we show that the provision of additional carbohydrates significantly reduces symbiont density while ammonium promotes symbiont proliferation. High-resolution metabolic analysis confirmed that all hosts co-incorporated glucose-derived 13C and ammonium-derived 15N via glutamine synthetase–glutamate synthase-mediated amino acid biosynthesis. Our results reveal a general carbon-nitrogen negative feedback loop underlying these symbioses and provide a parsimonious explanation for their repeated evolution.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Physics and Astronomy