Different Stress Tolerances of Juveniles of the Coral Acropora tenuis Associated with Clades C1 and D Symbiodinium

Zool Stud. 2016 May 31;55:e19. doi: 10.6620/ZS.2016.55-19. eCollection 2016.


Ikuko Yuyama, Takashi Nakamura, Tomihiko Higuchi, and Michio Hidaka (2016) Reef-building corals are often associated with multiple clades of symbiotic dinoflagellate Symbiodinium spp., where the relative composition of Symbiodinium can alter the phylogenetic properties (e.g., stress responsiveness, growth rate) of the host coral. The genus Symbiodinium contains nine clades, some of which behave differently in response to strong light and/or temperature stresses, for example, clade D Symbiodinium are thermally tolerant. However, previous studies are based on corals present in the field, and it is possible that the corals used in previous experiments did not contain single Symbiodinium clades. For an accurate assessment of the effects of each Symbiodinium clade on host thermal stress resistance, monoclonal cultures of clades C1 and D were inoculated into aposymbiotic juvenile polyps. Photosynthetic efficiency (maximum quantum yield: F v /F m) showed a decline at 30°C than at 25°C in both clades. Symbiodinium clade C1 showed a consistently higher rETRmax with larger fluctuations than clade D, with a lower survival rate of juveniles during thermal stress treatment. Under strong light exposure, corals containing clade C1 showed a greater decline in F v /F m (-74%), compared to decline in corals associated with clade D (-50%) after 3 hours. This is the first study to assess stress tolerances of juvenile corals in association with the monoclonal Symbiodinium clades C and D, and our results indicated greater tolerance of corals associated with clade D to strong light (500 μmol m-2 s-1). However, it is difficult to determine the impact of high-temperature stress on coral-algae symbiosis from photosynthetic activity. At high temperatures, clade C1 Symbiodinium exhibited high photosynthetic activity, but host survival rates were higher in corals associated with clade D Symbiodinium. Since clade C1 has a relatively high photosynthetic activity under high temperatures, clade C1 symbiosis at high temperatures might have a negative impact on corals compared with clade D.

Keywords: Acropora; Clade C1; Clade D; Endosymbiosis; PAM; Symbodinium.