Genetic differentiation and connectivity of morphological types of the broadcast-spawning coral Galaxea fascicularis in the Nansei Islands, Japan.
ABSTRACT: Population connectivity resulting from larval dispersal is essential for the maintenance or recovery of populations in marine ecosystems, including coral reefs. Studies of species diversity and genetic connectivity within species are essential for the conservation of corals and coral reef ecosystems. We analyzed mitochondrial DNA sequence types and microsatellite genotypes of the broadcast-spawning coral, Galaxea fascicularis, from four regions in the subtropical Nansei Islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Two types (soft and hard types) of nematocyst morphology are known in G. fascicularis and are significantly correlated with the length of a mitochondrial DNA noncoding sequence (soft type: mt-L; hard type: mt-S type). Using microsatellites, significant genetic differentiation was detected between the mitochondrial DNA sequence types in all regions. We also found a third genetic cluster (mt-L+), and this unexpected type may be a cryptic species of Galaxea. High clonal diversity was detected in both mt-L and mt-S types. Significant genetic differentiation, which was found among regions within a given type (F ST = 0.009-0.024, all Ps ? 0.005 in mt-L; 0.009-0.032, all Ps ? 0.01 in mt-S), may result from the shorter larval development than in other broadcast-spawning corals, such as the genus Acropora. Nevertheless, intraspecific genetic diversity and connectivity have been maintained, and with both sexual and asexual reproduction, this species appears to have a potential for the recovery of populations after disturbance.
Project description:The reef-building, scleractinian coral, Galaxea fascicularis, is classified into soft and hard types, based on nematocyst morphology. This character is correlated with the length of the mitochondrial non-coding region (mt-Long: soft colony type, and nematocysts with wide capsules and long shafts; mt-Short: hard colony type, and nematocysts with thin capsules and short shafts). We isolated and characterized novel polymorphic microsatellite markers for G. fascicularis using next-generation sequencing. Based upon the mitochondrial non-coding region, 53 of the 97 colonies collected were mt-Long (mt-L) and 44 were mt-Short (mt-S). Among the 53 mt-L colonies, 27 loci were identified as amplifiable, polymorphic microsatellite loci, devoid of somatic mutations and free of scoring errors. Eleven of those 27 loci were also amplifiable and polymorphic in the 44 mt-S colonies; these 11 are cross-type microsatellite loci. The other 16 loci were considered useful only for mt-L colonies. These 27 loci identified 10 multilocus lineages (MLLs) among the 53 mt-L colonies (NMLL/N = 0.189), and the 11 cross-type loci identified 7 MLLs in 44 mt-S colonies (NMLL/N = 0.159). Significant genetic differentiation between the two types was detected based on the genetic differentiation index (FST = 0.080, P = 0.001). Bayesian clustering also indicated that these two types are genetically isolated. While nuclear microsatellite genotypes also showed genetic differentiation between mitochondrial types, the mechanism of divergence is not yet clear. These markers will be useful to estimate genetic diversity, differentiation, and connectivity among populations, and to understand evolutionary processes, including divergence of types in G. fascicularis.
Project description:The success of coral reef ecosystems largely depends on mutualistic symbiosis between scleractinian corals and the dinoflagellate photosymbiont Symbiodinium spp. However, further investigation is needed to elucidate the flexibility of coral-algae associations in response to environmental changes. In this study, we applied a molecular method (high-throughput internal transcribed spacer 2 region of ribosomal RNA gene amplicon sequencing) to explore diversity and flexibility of Symbiodinium associated with Galaxea fascicularis, an ecologically important scleractinian coral species collected at five locations around Hainan Island, South China Sea. The results revealed a high diversity of Symbiodinium subclades with C2r and D17 being dominant in G. fascicularis. Clade D Symbiodinium occurred most frequently in habitats where the annual average sea surface temperatures are the highest, suggesting that temperature is an important factor in determining Symbiodinium D abundance in G. fascicularis. The distribution of coral-Symbiodinium associations are possibly mediated by trade-off mechanisms which change the relative abundance of Symbiodinium clades/subclades under different environmental conditions. These findings provide further evidence that reef-building corals such as G. fascicularis can shuffle their symbionts to cope with environmental changes, and have implications for our understanding of the ecology of flexible coral-algal symbiosis.
Project description:Coral reefs are significant ecosystems. The ecological success of coral reefs relies on not only coral-algal symbiosis but also coral-microbial partnership. However, microbiome assemblages in the South China Sea corals remain largely unexplored. Here, we compared the microbiome assemblages of reef-building corals Galaxea (G. fascicularis) and Montipora (M. venosa, M. peltiformis, M. monasteriata) collected from five different locations in the South China Sea using massively-parallel sequencing of 16S rRNA gene and multivariate analysis. The results indicated that microbiome assemblages for each coral species were unique regardless of location and were different from the corresponding seawater. Host type appeared to drive the coral microbiome assemblages rather than location and seawater. Network analysis was employed to explore coral microbiome co-occurrence patterns, which revealed 61 and 80 co-occurring microbial species assembling the Galaxea and Montipora microbiomes, respectively. Most of these co-occurring microbial species were commonly found in corals and were inferred to play potential roles in host nutrient metabolism; carbon, nitrogen, sulfur cycles; host detoxification; and climate change. These findings suggest that the co-occurring microbial species explored might be essential to maintain the critical coral-microbial partnership. The present study provides new insights into coral microbiome assemblages in the South China Sea.
Project description:The health of coral reef has declined significantly around the world due to the impact of human activities and natural environment changes, and corals have to develop effective resistance mechanisms to survive. In this study, we examined the physiological characteristics and Symbiodiniaceae types of four dominant scleractinian corals in the reefs at the Wuzhizhou Island (WZZ) in South China Sea. The water environmental conditions are complex on the north side of WZZ due to regional geography and tourism development, and all corals had their unique physiological conditions and Symbiodiniaceae types. For all corals of this study, the rETRm ax and protein content were significantly lower and the SOD enzyme activity was significantly higher in the north than in the south. Interestingly, ITS2 genotyping showed that Galaxea fascicularis contained dominant Symbiodiniaceae either genotype C21 or D1a depending on the regional environmental stress, and had stronger heterotrophy than the other three coral species. In addition, the light use efficiency of the dominant Symbiodiniaceae type C1 for Pocillopora verrucosa was significantly lower in the north and the half saturating irradiance was stable. Besides, Montipora truncata and P. verrucosa increased their density of the symbiotic zooxanthella C1 in the north to offset the decline of photosynthetic efficiency and thus supply energy. For Porites lutea and G. fascicularis, their half saturating irradiance declined sharply in the north, where P. lutea resorted to heterotrophic feeding to balance the energy budget when the number of zooxanthellas fell short and G. fascicularis reduced its energy reserve significantly when the energy source was limited. We thus demonstrated the differences in the physiological responses and energy metabolism strategies between the zooxanthella and the host coral of the four reef-building coral species under the stress of complex water environment on the north side of WZZ. The corals were found to cope with natural and anthropogenic stressors by adjusting the nutrient input sources and the energy structure metabolism of coral hosts or adapting to more sustainable relationship with Symbiodiniaceae clades. The corals exhibited their capacity against long-term disturbances by developing their own successful resistance mechanisms at symbiotic relationship and energy metabolism level.
Project description:Recently, reef-building coral populations have been decreasing worldwide due to various disturbances. Population genetic studies are helpful for estimating the genetic connectivity among populations of marine sessile organisms with metapopulation structures such as corals. Moreover, the relationship between latitude and genetic diversity is informative when evaluating the fragility of populations. In this study, using highly variable markers, we examined the population genetics of the broadcast-spawning coral Acropora digitifera at 19 sites in seven regions along the 1,000 km long island chain of Nansei Islands, Japan. This area includes both subtropical and temperate habitats. Thus, the coral populations around the Nansei Islands in Japan are northern peripheral populations that would be subjected to environmental stresses different from those in tropical areas. The existence of high genetic connectivity across this large geographic area was suggested for all sites (F(ST) < or = 0.033) although small but significant genetic differentiation was detected among populations in geographically close sites and regions. In addition, A. digitifera appears to be distributed throughout the Nansei Islands without losing genetic diversity. Therefore, A. digitifera populations in the Nansei Islands may be able to recover relatively rapidly even when high disturbances of coral communities occur locally if populations on other reefs are properly maintained.
Project description:With the increase in sea surface temperature (SST), scleractinian corals are exposed to bleaching threats but may possess certain flexibilities in terms of their associations with symbiotic algae. Previous studies have shown a close symbiosis between coral the and Symbiodinium; however, the spatial variation of the symbiosis and the attribution underlying are not well understood. In the present study, we examined coral-algal symbiosis in Galaxea fascicularis and Montipora spp. from three biogeographic regions across ~10° of latitude in the South China Sea. Analysis of similarities (ANOSIM) indicated a highly flexible coral-algal symbiosis in both G. fascicularis and Montipora spp. and canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) showed that temperature explained 83.2% and 60.1% of the explanatory subclade variations in G. fascicularis and Montipora spp., respectively, which suggested that temperature was the main environmental factor contributing to the diversity of Symbiodinium across the three regions. The geographic specificity of the Symbiodinium phylogeny was identified, revealing possible environmental selection across the three regions. These results suggest that scleractinian corals may have the ability to regulate Symbiodinium community structures under different temperatures and thus be able to adapt to gradual climate change.
Project description:Larval production and recruitment underpin the maintenance of coral populations, but these early life history stages are vulnerable to extreme variation in physical conditions. Environmental managers aim to minimise human impacts during significant periods of larval production and recruitment on reefs, but doing so requires knowledge of the modes and timing of coral reproduction. Most corals are hermaphroditic or gonochoric, with a brooding or broadcast spawning mode of reproduction. Brooding corals are a significant component of some reefs and produce larvae over consecutive months. Broadcast spawning corals are more common and display considerable variation in their patterns of spawning among reefs. Highly synchronous spawning can occur on reefs around Australia, particularly on the Great Barrier Reef. On Australia's remote north-west coast there have been fewer studies of coral reproduction. The recent industrial expansion into these regions has facilitated research, but the associated data are often contained within confidential reports. Here we combine information in this grey-literature with that available publicly to update our knowledge of coral reproduction in WA, for tens of thousands of corals and hundreds of species from over a dozen reefs spanning 20° of latitude. We identified broad patterns in coral reproduction, but more detailed insights were hindered by biased sampling; most studies focused on species of Acropora sampled over a few months at several reefs. Within the existing data, there was a latitudinal gradient in spawning activity among seasons, with mass spawning during autumn occurring on all reefs (but the temperate south-west). Participation in a smaller, multi-specific spawning during spring decreased from approximately one quarter of corals on the Kimberley Oceanic reefs to little participation at Ningaloo. Within these seasons, spawning was concentrated in March and/or April, and October and/or November, depending on the timing of the full moon. The timing of the full moon determined whether spawning was split over two months, which was common on tropical reefs. There were few data available for non-Acropora corals, which may have different patterns of reproduction. For example, the massive Porites seemed to spawn through spring to autumn on Kimberley Oceanic reefs and during summer in the Pilbara region, where other common corals (e.g. Turbinaria & Pavona) also displayed different patterns of reproduction to the Acropora. The brooding corals (Isopora & Seriatopora) on Kimberley Oceanic reefs appeared to planulate during many months, possibly with peaks from spring to autumn; a similar pattern is likely on other WA reefs. Gaps in knowledge were also due to the difficulty in identifying species and issues with methodology. We briefly discuss some of these issues and suggest an approach to quantifying variation in reproductive output throughout a year.
Project description:Abstract Information about the distribution of alleles among marine populations is critical for determining patterns of genetic connectivity that are essential in modern conservation planning. To estimate population connectivity in Singapore's urbanized equatorial reef system, we analysed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from two species of reef‐building corals with distinct life histories. For Porites sp., a broadcast‐spawning coral, we found cryptic lineages that were differentially distributed at inshore and central‐offshore sites that could be attributed to contemporary surface current regimes. Near panmixia was observed for Pocillopora acuta with differentiation of colonies at the farthest site from mainland Singapore, a possible consequence of the brooding nature and relatively long pelagic larval duration of the species. Furthermore, analysis of recent gene flow showed that 60–80% of colonies in each population were nonmigrants, underscoring self‐recruitment as an important demographic process in this reef system. Apart from helping to enhance the management of Singapore's coral reef ecosystems, findings here pave the way for better understanding of the evolution of marine populations in South‐East Asia.
Project description:In the South China Sea, coastal eutrophication in the Beibu Gulf has seriously threatened reef habitats by subjecting corals to chronic physiological stress. To determine how coral holobionts may tolerate such conditions, we examined the transcriptomes of healthy colonies of the galaxy coral Galaxea fascicularis and its endosymbiont Symbiodinium from two reef sites experiencing pristine or eutrophied nutrient regimes. We identified 236 and 205 genes that were differentially expressed in eutrophied hosts and symbionts, respectively. Both gene sets included pathways related to stress responses and metabolic interactions. An analysis of genes originating from each partner revealed striking metabolic integration with respect to vitamins, cofactors, amino acids, fatty acids, and secondary metabolite biosynthesis. The expression levels of these genes supported the existence of a continuum of mutualism in this coral-algal symbiosis. Additionally, large sets of transcription factors, cell signal transduction molecules, biomineralization components, and galaxin-related proteins were expanded in G. fascicularis relative to other coral species.
Project description:Symbionts in each generation are transmitted to new host individuals either vertically (parent to offspring), horizontally (from exogenous sources), or a combination of both. Scleractinian corals make an excellent study system for understanding patterns of symbiont transmission since they harbor diverse symbionts and possess distinct reproductive modes of either internal brooding or external broadcast spawning that generally correlate with vertical or horizontal transmission, respectively. Here, we focused on the under-recognized, but apparently widespread, coral-associated apicomplexans (Protista: Alveolata) to determine if symbiont transmission depends on host reproductive mode. Specifically, a PCR-based assay was utilized towards identifying whether planula larvae and reproductive adults from brooding and broadcast spawning scleractinian coral species in Florida and Belize harbored apicomplexan DNA. Nearly all (85.5%; n = 85/89) examined planulae of five brooding species (Porites astreoides, Agaricia tenuifolia, Agaricia agaricites, Favia fragum, Mycetophyllia ferox) and adults of P. astreoides were positive for apicomplexan DNA. In contrast, no (n = 0/10) apicomplexan DNA was detected from planulae of four broadcast spawning species (Acropora cervicornis, Acropora palmata, Pseudodiploria strigosa, and Orbicella faveolata) and rarely in gametes (8.9%; n = 5/56) of these species sampled from the same geographical range as the brooding species. In contrast, tissue samples from nearly all (92.0%; n = 81/88) adults of the broadcast spawning species A. cervicornis, A. palmata and O. faveolata harbored apicomplexan DNA, including colonies whose gametes and planulae tested negative for these symbionts. Taken together, these data suggest apicomplexans are transmitted vertically in these brooding scleractinian coral species while the broadcast spawning scleractinian species examined here acquire these symbionts horizontally. Notably, these transmission patterns are consistent with those of other scleractinian coral symbionts. While this study furthers knowledge regarding these symbionts, numerous questions remain to be addressed, particularly in regard to the specific interaction(s) between these apicomplexans and their hosts.