Coral host transcriptomic states are correlated with Symbiodinium genotypes

Michael K. DeSalvo, Shinichi Sunagawa, Paul L. Fisher, Christian R. Voolstra, Roberto Iglesias Prieto, Mónica Medina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


A mutualistic relationship between reef-building corals and endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.) forms the basis for the existence of coral reefs. Genotyping tools for Symbiodinium spp. have added a new level of complexity to studies concerning cnidarian growth, nutrient acquisition, and stress. For example, the response of the coral holobiont to thermal stress is connected to the host-Symbiodinium genotypic combination, as different partnerships can have different bleaching susceptibilities. In this study, we monitored Symbiodinium physiological parameters and profiled the coral host transcriptional responses in acclimated, thermally stressed, and recovered fragments of the coral Montastraea faveolata using a custom cDNA gene expression microarray. Interestingly, gene expression was more similar among samples with the same Symbiodinium content rather than the same experimental condition. In order to discount for host-genotypic effects, we sampled fragments from a single colony of M. faveolata containing different symbiont types, and found that the host transcriptomic states grouped according to Symbiodinium genotype rather than thermal stress. As the first study that links coral host transcriptomic patterns to the clade content of their Symbiodinium community, our results provide a critical step to elucidating the molecular basis of the apparent variability seen among different coral-Symbiodinium partnerships. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1174-1186
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the members of the Medina Lab at UCM and the members of the Photobiology group in Puerto Morelos for aid in many aspects of this study. We would like to especially thank Xavier Hernandez-Pech of UNAM, Erika Diaz-Almeyda of UCM, Keith Bayha of UCM, Lolo Cardenas of the Roy Genomics Shared Facility at UCM, and the Functional Genomics Lab at UC Berkeley. Nicholas Polato and Iliana Baums at Penn State University are thanked for genotyping coral colonies. The comments of anonymous reviewers greatly improved this manuscript. This study was supported by a UC MEXUS Dissertation Research Grant to MKD, two Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research to MKD and SS, a UC MEXUS-CONACYT Collaborative Grant to RI-P and MM, NSF awards to MM (BE-GEN 0313708 and IOS 0644438), start- up funds from UC Merced to MM, and Coral Reef Targeted Research Program Funds to RI-P.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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