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Importance of Time and Place: Patterns in Abundance of Symbiodinium Clades A and B in the Tropical Sea Anemone Condylactis gigantea

A. A. Venn, J. E. Loram, H. G. Trapido-Rosenthal, D. A. Joyce and A. E. Douglas
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 215, No. 3 (Dec., 2008), pp. 243-252
DOI: 10.2307/25470708
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25470708
Page Count: 10
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Importance of Time and Place: Patterns in Abundance of Symbiodinium Clades A and B in the Tropical Sea Anemone Condylactis gigantea
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Abstract

The capacity of some corals and other cnidarians to form symbioses with multiple algae (Symbiodinium) is a candidate route by which these symbioses tolerate variable environmental conditions. On Bermuda, the coral reef dwelling anemone Condylactis gigantea bears Symbiodinium of clades A and B. At thermally variable inshore and nearshore sites, clade A predominates (as sole symbiont or in mixed infection with clade B), whereas animals at offshore sites with more uniform temperatures bear only clade B or mixed infections. Individual animals at one nearshore site monitored over a year by sampling tentacles showed increased prevalence of clade A in March-November, when sea waters were warm (average 26 °C), and increased clade B in November-March when cool waters prevailed (average 18.5 °C). In laboratory analyses of excised tentacles, the symbiosis with clade B, but not clade A, bleached at elevated temperature (32 °C), suggesting that thermal tolerance may contribute to the higher prevalence of clade A at inshore/nearshore sites and in the summer. The temporal changes in the algal complement were not accompanied by bleaching, and Symbiodinium density fluctuated in hosts with stable Symbiodinium composition but not in hosts with variable composition. This suggests that changes in the relative abundance of Symbiodinium clades do not require bleaching and may even protect the symbiosis from large fluctuations in algal density.

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