Gene expression of settled and metamorphosed Orbicella faveolata during establishment of symbiosis
ABSTRACT: Corals rely on a symbiosis with dinoflagellate algae (Symbiodinium spp.) to thrive in nutrient poor tropical oceans. However, the coral-algal symbiosis can break down during bleaching events, potentially leading to coral death. While genome-wide expression studies have shown the genes associated with the breakdown of this partnership, the full conglomerate of genes responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a healthy symbiosis remains unknown. Results from previous studies suggested little transcriptomic change associated with the establishment of symbiosis. In order to elucidate the transcriptomic response of the coral host in the presence of its associated symbiont, we utilized a comparative framework. Post-metamorphic aposymbiotic coral polyps of Orbicella faveolata were compared to symbiotic coral polyps 9 days after metamorphosis and the subsequent differential gene expression between control and treatment was quantified using cDNA microarray technology. Coral polyps exhibited differential expression of genes associated with nutrient metabolism and development, providing insight into pathways turned as a result of symbiosis driving early polyp growth. Furthermore, genes associated with lysosomal fusion were also upregulated, suggesting host regulation of symbiont densities soon after infection. Overall design: RNA from 3 control and 3 infected polyp samples were hybridized in a 3-replicate pooled reference (6 total hyb's)
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-building corals switch endosymbiotic algae of the genus Symbiodinium during their early growth stages and during bleaching events. Clade C Symbiodinium algae are dominant in corals, although other clades - including A and D - have also been commonly detected in juvenile Acroporid corals. Previous studies have been reported that only molecular data of Symbiodinium clade were identified within field corals. In this study, we inoculated aposymbiotic juvenile polyps with cultures of clades C1 and D Symbiodinium algae, and investigated the different effect of these two clades of Symbiodinium on juvenile polyps. Our results showed that clade C1 algae did not grow, while clade D algae grew rapidly during the first 2 months after inoculation. Polyps associated with clade C1 algae exhibited bright green fluorescence across the body and tentacles after inoculation. The growth rate of polyp skeletons was lower in polyps associated with clade C1 algae than those associated with clade D algae. On the other hand, antioxidant activity (catalase) of corals was not significantly different between corals with clade C1 and clade D algae. Our results suggested that clade D Symbiodinium algae easily form symbiotic relationships with corals and that these algae could contribute to coral growth in early symbiosis stages.
Project description:The ability of some symbiotic cnidarians to resist and better withstand stress factors that cause bleaching is a trait that is receiving increased attention. The adaptive bleaching hypothesis postulates that cnidarians that can form a stable symbiosis with thermotolerant Symbiodiniaceae strains may cope better with increasing seawater temperatures. We used polyps of the scyphozoan, Cassiopea xamachana, as a model system to test symbiosis success under heat stress. We sought to determine: (1) if aposymbiotic C. xamachana polyps could establish and maintain a symbiosis with both native and non-native strains of Symbiodiniaceae that all exhibit different tolerances to heat, (2) whether polyps with these newly acquired Symbiodiniaceae strains would strobilate (produce ephyra), and (3) if thermally tolerant Symbiodiniaceae strains that established and maintained a symbiosis exhibited greater success in response to heat stress (even if they are not naturally occurring in Cassiopea). Following recolonization of aposymbiotic C. xamachana polyps with different strains, we found that: (1) strains Smic, Stri, Slin, and Spil all established a stable symbiosis that promoted strobilation and (2) strains Bmin1 and Bmin2 did not establish a stable symbiosis and strobilation did not occur. Strains Smic, Stri, Slin, and Spil were used in a subsequent bleaching experiment; each of the strains was introduced to a subset of aposymbiotic polyps and once polyp tissues were saturated with symbionts they were subjected to elevated temperatures - 32°C and 34°C - for 2 weeks. Our findings indicate that, in general, pairings of polyps with Symbiodiniaceae strains that are native to Cassiopea (Stri and Smic) performed better than a non-native strain (Slin) even though this strain has a high thermotolerance. This suggests a degree of partner specificity that may limit the adaptive potential of certain cnidarians to increased ocean warming. We also observed that the free-living, non-native thermotolerant strain Spil was relatively successful in resisting bleaching during experimental trials. This suggests that free-living Symbiodiniaceae may provide a supply of potentially "new" thermotolerant strains to cnidarians following a bleaching event.
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:Calcification processes are largely unknown in scleractinian corals. In this study, live confocal imaging was used to elucidate the spatiotemporal dynamics of the calcification process in aposymbiotic primary polyps of the coral species Acropora digitifera. The fluorophore calcein was used as a calcium deposition marker and a visible indicator of extracellular fluid distribution at the tissue-skeleton interface (subcalicoblastic medium, SCM) in primary polyp tissues. Under continuous incubation in calcein-containing seawater, initial crystallization and skeletal growth were visualized among the calicoblastic cells in live primary polyp tissues. Additionally, the distribution of calcein-stained SCM and contraction movements of the pockets of SCM were captured at intervals of a few minutes. Our experimental system provided several new insights into coral calcification, particularly as a first step in monitoring the relationship between cellular dynamics and calcification in vivo. Our study suggests that coral calcification initiates at intercellular spaces, a finding that may contribute to the general understanding of coral calcification processes.
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:To clarify the establishment process of coral-algal symbiotic relationships, coral transcriptome changes during increasing algal symbiont densities were examined in juvenile corals following inoculation with the algae Symbiodinium goreaui (clade C) and S. trenchii (clade D), and comparison of their transcriptomes with aposymbiotic corals by RNA-sequencing. Since Symbiodinium clades C and D showed very different rates of density increase, comparisons were made of early onsets of both symbionts, revealing that the host behaved differently for each. RNA-sequencing showed that the number of differentially-expressed genes in corals colonized by clade D increased ca. two-fold from 10 to 20 days, whereas corals with clade C showed unremarkable changes consistent with a slow rate of density increase. The data revealed dynamic metabolic changes in symbiotic corals. In addition, the endocytosis pathway was also upregulated, while lysosomal digestive enzymes and the immune system tended to be downregulated as the density of clade D algae increased. The present dataset provides an enormous number of candidate symbiosis-related molecules that exhibit the detailed process by which coral-algal endosymbiosis is established.
Project description: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 onset of symbiosis and the early development of most broadcast spawning corals play pivotal roles in recruitment success, yet these critical early stages are threatened by multiple stressors. However, molecular mechanisms governing these critical processes under ocean warming and acidification are still poorly understood. The present study investigated the interactive impact of elevated temperature (?28.0°C and ?30.5°C) and partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) (?600 and ?1,200 ?atm) on early development and the gene expression patterns in juvenile Acropora intermedia over 33 days. The results showed that coral survival was >89% and was unaffected by high temperature, pCO2, or the combined treatment. Notably, high temperature completely arrested successful symbiosis establishment and the budding process, whereas acidification had a negligible effect. Moreover, there was a positive exponential relationship between symbiosis establishment and budding rates (y = 0.0004e6.43x, R = 0.72, P < 0.0001), which indicated the importance of symbiosis in fueling asexual budding. Compared with corals at the control temperature (28°C), those under elevated temperature preferentially harbored Durusdinium spp., despite unsuccessful symbiosis establishment. In addition, compared to the control, 351 and 153 differentially expressed genes were detected in the symbiont and coral host in response to experimental conditions, respectively. In coral host, some genes involved in nutrient transportation and tissue fluorescence were affected by high temperature. In the symbionts, a suite of genes related to cell growth, ribosomal proteins, photosynthesis, and energy production was downregulated under high temperatures, which may have severely hampered successful cell proliferation of the endosymbionts and explains the failure of symbiosis establishment. Therefore, our results suggest that the responses of symbionts to future ocean conditions could play a vital role in shaping successful symbiosis in juvenile coral.
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.