Adaptations to endosymbiosis in a cnidarian-dinoflagellate association: differential gene expression and specific gene duplications.
ABSTRACT: Trophic endosymbiosis between anthozoans and photosynthetic dinoflagellates forms the key foundation of reef ecosystems. Dysfunction and collapse of symbiosis lead to bleaching (symbiont expulsion), which is responsible for the severe worldwide decline of coral reefs. Molecular signals are central to the stability of this partnership and are therefore closely related to coral health. To decipher inter-partner signaling, we developed genomic resources (cDNA library and microarrays) from the symbiotic sea anemone Anemonia viridis. Here we describe differential expression between symbiotic (also called zooxanthellate anemones) or aposymbiotic (also called bleached) A. viridis specimens, using microarray hybridizations and qPCR experiments. We mapped, for the first time, transcript abundance separately in the epidermal cell layer and the gastrodermal cells that host photosynthetic symbionts. Transcriptomic profiles showed large inter-individual variability, indicating that aposymbiosis could be induced by different pathways. We defined a restricted subset of 39 common genes that are characteristic of the symbiotic or aposymbiotic states. We demonstrated that transcription of many genes belonging to this set is specifically enhanced in the symbiotic cells (gastroderm). A model is proposed where the aposymbiotic and therefore heterotrophic state triggers vesicular trafficking, whereas the symbiotic and therefore autotrophic state favors metabolic exchanges between host and symbiont. Several genetic pathways were investigated in more detail: i) a key vitamin K-dependant process involved in the dinoflagellate-cnidarian recognition; ii) two cnidarian tissue-specific carbonic anhydrases involved in the carbon transfer from the environment to the intracellular symbionts; iii) host collagen synthesis, mostly supported by the symbiotic tissue. Further, we identified specific gene duplications and showed that the cnidarian-specific isoform was also up-regulated both in the symbiotic state and in the gastroderm. Our results thus offer new insight into the inter-partner signaling required for the physiological mechanisms of the symbiosis that is crucial for coral health.
Project description:The endosymbiotic relationship between cnidarians and photosynthetic dinoflagellate algae provides the foundation of coral reef ecosystems. This essential interaction is globally threatened by anthropogenic disturbance. As such, it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms underpinning the cnidarian-algal association. Here we investigated phosphorylation-mediated protein signalling as a mechanism of regulation of the cnidarian-algal interaction, and we report on the generation of the first phosphoproteome for the coral model system Aiptasia. Mass spectrometry-based phosphoproteomics using data-independent acquisition allowed consistent quantification of over 3,000 phosphopeptides totalling more than 1,600 phosphoproteins across aposymbiotic (symbiont-free) and symbiotic anemones. Comparison of the symbiotic states showed distinct phosphoproteomic profiles attributable to the differential phosphorylation of 539 proteins that cover a broad range of functions, from receptors to structural and signal transduction proteins. A subsequent pathway enrichment analysis identified the processes of "protein digestion and absorption," "carbohydrate metabolism," and "protein folding, sorting and degradation," and highlighted differential phosphorylation of the "phospholipase D signalling pathway" and "protein processing in the endoplasmic reticulum." Targeted phosphorylation of the phospholipase D signalling pathway suggests control of glutamate vesicle trafficking across symbiotic compartments, and phosphorylation of the endoplasmic reticulum machinery suggests recycling of symbiosome-associated proteins. Our study shows for the first time that changes in the phosphorylation status of proteins between aposymbiotic and symbiotic Aiptasia anemones may play a role in the regulation of the cnidarian-algal symbiosis. This is the first phosphoproteomic study of a cnidarian-algal symbiotic association as well as the first application of quantification by data-independent acquisition in the coral field.
Project description:Symbiosis, defined as the persistent association between two distinct species, is an evolutionary and ecologically critical phenomenon facilitating survival of both partners in diverse habitats. The biodiversity of coral reef ecosystems depends on a functional symbiosis with photosynthetic dinoflagellates of the highly diverse genus Symbiodinium, which reside in coral host cells and continuously support their nutrition. The mechanisms underlying symbiont selection to establish a stable endosymbiosis in non-symbiotic juvenile corals are unclear. Here we show for the first time that symbiont selection patterns for larvae of two Acropora coral species and the model anemone Aiptasia are similar under controlled conditions. We find that Aiptasia larvae distinguish between compatible and incompatible symbionts during uptake into the gastric cavity and phagocytosis. Using RNA-Seq, we identify a set of candidate genes potentially involved in symbiosis establishment. Together, our data complement existing molecular resources to mechanistically dissect symbiont phagocytosis in cnidarians under controlled conditions, thereby strengthening the role of Aiptasia larvae as a powerful model for cnidarian endosymbiosis establishment.
Project description:The cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis is arguably one of the most important within the marine environment in that it is integral to the formation of coral reefs. However, the regulatory processes that perpetuate this symbiosis remain unresolved. It is essential to understand these processes, if we are to elucidate the mechanisms that support growth and resource accumulation by coral host, and conversely, recently observed reduction and/or mortality of corals in response to rapid environmental change. This study specifically focused on one area of metabolic activity within the symbiosis, that of free fatty acid synthesis within both the dinoflagellate symbionts and cnidarian host. The main model system used was Aiptasia pulchella and Symbiodinium sp. in combination with aposymbiotic A. pulchella, the symbiotic coral Acropora millepora system and dinoflagellate culture. Fatty acids (FAs) were selected because of their multiple essential roles inclusive of energy storage (resource accumulation), membrane structure fluidity and cell signaling. The study addressed free FA lipogenesis by using a new method of enriched stable isotopic ((13)C) incorporation from dissolved inorganic carbon (DI(13)C) combined with HPLC-MS. FAs derived from DI(13)C aligned with a mixture of known lipogenesis pathways with the addition of some unusual FAs. After 120 hr, (13)C-enriched FA synthesis rates were attributed to only a complex integration of both n-3 and n-6 lipogenesis pathways within the dinoflagellate symbionts. Furthermore, there was no detectible evidence of symbiont derived enriched isotope fatty acids, catabolized (13)C derivatives or DI(13)C being directly utilized, in host late n-6 pathway long-chain FA lipogenesis. These findings do not align with a popular mutualistic translocation model with respect to the use of translocated symbiont photoassimilates in host long-chain FA lipogenesis, which has important connotations for linking nutrient sources with metabolite production and the dynamic regulation of this symbiosis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Coral reef ecosystems are renowned for their diversity and beauty. Their immense ecological success is due to a symbiotic association between cnidarian hosts and unicellular dinoflagellate algae, known as zooxanthellae. These algae are photosynthetic and the cnidarian-zooxanthellae association is based on nutritional exchanges. Maintenance of such an intimate cellular partnership involves many crosstalks between the partners. To better characterize symbiotic relationships between a cnidarian host and its dinoflagellate symbionts, we conducted a large-scale EST study on a symbiotic sea anemone, Anemonia viridis, in which the two tissue layers (epiderm and gastroderm) can be easily separated. RESULTS: A single cDNA library was constructed from symbiotic tissue of sea anemones A. viridis in various environmental conditions (both normal and stressed). We generated 39,939 high quality ESTs, which were assembled into 14,504 unique sequences (UniSeqs). Sequences were analysed and sorted according to their putative origin (animal, algal or bacterial). We identified many new repeated elements in the 3'UTR of most animal genes, suggesting that these elements potentially have a biological role, especially with respect to gene expression regulation. We identified genes of animal origin that have no homolog in the non-symbiotic starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis genome, but in other symbiotic cnidarians, and may therefore be involved in the symbiosis relationship in A. viridis. Comparison of protein domain occurrence in A. viridis with that in N. vectensis demonstrated an increase in abundance of some molecular functions, such as protein binding or antioxidant activity, suggesting that these functions are essential for the symbiotic state and may be specific adaptations. CONCLUSION: This large dataset of sequences provides a valuable resource for future studies on symbiotic interactions in Cnidaria. The comparison with the closest available genome, the sea anemone N. vectensis, as well as with EST datasets from other symbiotic cnidarians provided a set of candidate genes involved in symbiosis-related molecular crosstalks. Altogether, these results provide new molecular insights that could be used as a starting-point for further functional genomics studies.
Project description:The relationship between corals and dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium is fundamental to the functioning of coral ecosystems. It has been suggested that reef corals may adapt to climate change by changing their dominant symbiont type to a more thermally tolerant one, although the capacity for such a shift is potentially hindered by the compatibility of different host-symbiont pairings. Here we combined transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses to characterize the molecular, cellular, and physiological processes that underlie this compatibility, with a particular focus on Symbiodinium trenchii, an opportunistic, thermally tolerant symbiont that flourishes in coral tissues after bleaching events. Symbiont-free individuals of the sea anemone Exaiptasia pallida (commonly referred to as Aiptasia), an established model system for the study of the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis, were colonized with the "normal" (homologous) symbiont Symbiodinium minutum and the heterologous S. trenchii Analysis of the host gene and metabolite expression profiles revealed that heterologous symbionts induced an expression pattern intermediate between the typical symbiotic state and the aposymbiotic state. Furthermore, integrated pathway analysis revealed that increased catabolism of fixed carbon stores, metabolic signaling, and immune processes occurred in response to the heterologous symbiont type. Our data suggest that both nutritional provisioning and the immune response induced by the foreign "invader" are important factors in determining the capacity of corals to adapt to climate change through the establishment of novel symbioses.
Project description:The acquisition of thermally tolerant algal symbionts by corals has been proposed as a natural or assisted mechanism of increasing coral reef resilience to anthropogenic climate change, but the cell-level processes determining the performance of new symbiotic associations are poorly understood. We used liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to investigate the effects of an experimentally induced symbiosis on the host proteome of the model sea anemone Exaiptasia pallida. Aposymbiotic specimens were colonised by either the homologous dinoflagellate symbiont (Breviolum minutum) or a thermally tolerant, ecologically invasive heterologous symbiont (Durusdinium trenchii). Anemones containing D. trenchii exhibited minimal expression of Niemann-Pick C2 proteins, which have predicted biochemical roles in sterol transport and cell recognition, and glutamine synthetases, which are thought to be involved in nitrogen assimilation and recycling between partners. D. trenchii-colonised anemones had higher expression of methionine-synthesising betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferases and proteins with predicted oxidative stress response functions. Multiple lysosome-associated proteins were less abundant in both symbiotic treatments compared with the aposymbiotic treatment. The differentially abundant proteins are predicted to represent pathways that may be involved in nutrient transport or resource allocation between partners. These results provide targets for specific experiments to elucidate the mechanisms underpinning compensatory physiology in the coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis.
Project description:Reef corals and sea anemones form symbioses with unicellular symbiotic dinoflagellates. The molecular circumventions that underlie the successful intracellular colonization of hosts by symbionts are still largely unknown. We conducted proteomic analyses to determine molecular differences of Exaiptasia pallida anemones colonized by physiologically different symbiont species, in comparison with symbiont-free (aposymbiotic) anemones. We compared one homologous species, Symbiodinium linucheae, that is natively associated with the clonal Exaiptasia strain (CC7) to another heterologous species, Durusdinium trenchii, a thermally tolerant species that colonizes numerous coral species. This approach allowed the discovery of a core set of host genes that are differentially regulated as a function of symbiosis regardless of symbiont species. The findings revealed that symbiont colonization at higher densities requires circumvention of the host cellular immunological response, enhancement of ammonium regulation, and suppression of phagocytosis after a host cell in colonized. Furthermore, the heterologous symbionts failed to duplicate the same level of homologous colonization within the host, evidenced by substantially lower symbiont densities. This reduced colonization of D. trenchii correlated with its inability to circumvent key host systems including autophagy-suppressing modulators, cytoskeletal alteration, and isomerase activity. The larger capability of host molecular circumvention by homologous symbionts could be the result of a longer evolutionary history of host/symbiont interactions, which translates into a more finely tuned symbiosis. These findings are of great importance within the context of the response of reef corals to climate change since it has been suggested that coral may acclimatize to ocean warming by changing their dominant symbiont species.
Project description:Background: Cnidarian – dinoflagellate intracellular symbioses are one of the most important mutualisms in the marine environment. They form the trophic and structural foundation of coral reef ecosystems, and have played a key role in the evolutionary radiation and biodiversity of cnidarian species. Despite the prevalence of these symbioses, we still know very little about the molecular modulators that initiate, regulate, and maintain the interaction between these two different biological entities. In this study, we conducted a comparative host anemone transcriptome analysis using a cDNA microarray platform to identify genes involved in cnidarian – algal symbiosis. Results: We detected statistically significant differences in host gene expression profiles between sea anemones (Anthopleura elegantissima) in a symbiotic and non-symbiotic state. The group of genes, whose expression is altered, is diverse, suggesting that the molecular regulation of the symbiosis is governed by changes in multiple cellular processes. In the context of cnidarian – dinoflagellate symbioses, we discuss pivotal host gene expression changes involved in lipid metabolism, cell adhesion, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and oxidative stress. Conclusion: Our data do not support the existence of symbiosis-specific genes involved in controlling and regulating the symbiosis. Instead, it appears that the symbiosis is maintained by altering expression of existing genes involved in vital cellular processes. Specifically, the finding of key genes involved in cell cycle progression and apoptosis have led us to hypothesize that a suppression of apoptosis, together with a deregulation of the host cell cycle, create a platform that might be necessary for symbiont and/or symbiont-containing host cell survival. This first comprehensive molecular examination of the cnidarian – dinoflagellate associations provides critical insight into the maintenance and regulation of the symbiosis. Keywords: comparative genomic hybridization Overall design: We applied a multiple dye-swap experimental design for the two conditions, aposymbiotic and symbiotic anemone groups, compared in our experiment. For this experiment, there were no reference samples. Six biological replicates per condition were used as recommended for this type of two-comparison experimental design. There were not technical replicates on the array.
Project description:Coral reefs have evolved with a crucial symbiosis between photosynthetic dinoflagellates (genus Symbiodinium) and their cnidarian hosts (Scleractinians). Most coral larvae take up Symbiodinium from their environment; however, the earliest steps in this process have been elusive. Here we demonstrate that the disaccharide trehalose may be an important signal from the symbiont to potential larval hosts. Symbiodinium freshly isolated from Fungia scutaria corals constantly released trehalose (but not sucrose, maltose or glucose) into seawater, and released glycerol only in the presence of coral tissue. Spawning Fungia adults increased symbiont number in their immediate area by excreting pellets of Symbiodinium, and when these naturally discharged Symbiodinium were cultured, they also released trehalose. In Y-maze experiments, coral larvae demonstrated chemoattractant and feeding behaviors only towards a chamber with trehalose or glycerol. Concomitantly, coral larvae and adult tissue, but not symbionts, had significant trehalase enzymatic activities, suggesting the capacity to utilize trehalose. Trehalase activity was developmentally regulated in F. scutaria larvae, rising as the time for symbiont uptake occurs. Consistent with the enzymatic assays, gene finding demonstrated the presence of a trehalase enzyme in the genome of a related coral, Acropora digitifera, and a likely trehalase in the transcriptome of F. scutaria. Taken together, these data suggest that adult F. scutaria seed the reef with Symbiodinium during spawning and the exuded Symbiodinium release trehalose into the environment, which acts as a chemoattractant for F. scutaria larvae and as an initiator of feeding behavior- the first stages toward establishing the coral-Symbiodinium relationship. Because trehalose is a fixed carbon compound, this cue would accurately demonstrate to the cnidarian larvae the photosynthetic ability of the potential symbiont in the ambient environment. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a chemical cue attracting the motile coral larvae to the symbiont.
Project description:The bean bug Riptortus pedestris possesses a specialized symbiotic organ in a posterior region of the midgut, where numerous crypts harbor extracellular betaproteobacterial symbionts of the genus Burkholderia. Second instar nymphs orally acquire the symbiont from the environment, and the symbiont infection benefits the host by facilitating growth and by occasionally conferring insecticide resistance. Here we performed comparative transcriptomic analyses of insect genes expressed in symbiotic and non-symbiotic regions of the midgut dissected from Burkholderia-infected and uninfected R. pedestris. Expression sequence tag analysis of cDNA libraries and quantitative reverse transcription PCR identified a number of insect genes expressed in symbiosis- or aposymbiosis-associated patterns. For example, genes up-regulated in symbiotic relative to aposymbiotic individuals, including many cysteine-rich secreted protein genes and many cathepsin protease genes, are likely to play a role in regulating the symbiosis. Conversely, genes up-regulated in aposymbiotic relative to symbiotic individuals, including a chicken-type lysozyme gene and a defensin-like protein gene, are possibly involved in regulation of non-symbiotic bacterial infections. Our study presents the first transcriptomic data on gut symbiotic organ of a stinkbug, which provides initial clues to understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying the insect-bacterium gut symbiosis and sheds light on several intriguing commonalities between endocellular and extracellular symbiotic associations.