Project description:BACKGROUND:Porites astreoides is a ubiquitous species of coral on modern Caribbean reefs that is resistant to increasing temperatures, overfishing, and other anthropogenic impacts that have threatened most other coral species. We assembled and annotated a transcriptome from this coral using Illumina sequences from three different developmental stages collected over several years: free-swimming larvae, newly settled larvae, and adults (>10 cm in diameter). This resource will aid understanding of coral calcification, larval settlement, and host-symbiont interactions. FINDINGS:A de novo transcriptome for the P. astreoides holobiont (coral plus algal symbiont) was assembled using 594 Mbp of raw Illumina sequencing data generated from five age-specific cDNA libraries. The new transcriptome consists of 867 255 transcript elements with an average length of 685 bases. The isolated P. astreoides assembly consists of 129 718 transcript elements with an average length of 811 bases, and the isolated Symbiodinium sp. assembly had 186 177 transcript elements with an average length of 1105 bases. CONCLUSIONS:This contribution to coral transcriptome data provides a valuable resource for researchers studying the ontogeny of gene expression patterns within both the coral and its dinoflagellate symbiont.
Project description:In this study, we examine microbial communities of early developmental stages of the coral Porites astreoides by sequence analysis of cloned 16S rRNA genes, terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP), and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) imaging. Bacteria are associated with the ectoderm layer in newly released planula larvae, in 4-day-old planulae, and on the newly forming mesenteries surrounding developing septa in juvenile polyps after settlement. Roseobacter clade-associated (RCA) bacteria and Marinobacter sp. are consistently detected in specimens of P. astreoides spanning three early developmental stages, two locations in the Caribbean and 3 years of collection. Multi-response permutation procedures analysis on the TRFLP results do not support significant variation in the bacterial communities associated with P. astreoides larvae across collection location, collection year or developmental stage. The results are the first evidence of vertical transmission (from parent to offspring) of bacteria in corals. The results also show that at least two groups of bacterial taxa, the RCA bacteria and Marinobacter, are consistently associated with juvenile P. astreoides against a complex background of microbial associations, indicating that some components of the microbial community are long-term associates of the corals and may impact host health and survival.
Project description:Mesophotic coral ecosystems between 30-150 m may be important refugia habitat for coral reefs and associated benthic communities from climate change and coastal development. However, reduced light at mesophotic depths may present an energetic challenge to the successful reproduction of light-dependent coral organisms, and limit this refugia potential. Here, the relationship of depth and fecundity was investigated in a brooding depth-generalist scleractinian coral, Porites astreoides from 5-37 m in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) using paraffin tissue histology. Despite a trend of increasing planulae production with depth, no significant differences were found in mean peak planulae density between shallow, mid-depth and mesophotic sites. Differential planulae production over depth is thus controlled by P. astreoides coral cover, which peaks at 10 m and ~35 m in the USVI. These results suggest that mesophotic ecosystems are reproductive refuge for P. astreoides in the USVI, and may behave as refugia for P. astreoides metapopulations providing that vertical larval exchanges are viable.
Project description:Apical lesions on Porites astreoides were characterized by the appearance of a thin yellow band, which was preceded by bleaching of the coral tissues and followed by a completely denuded coral skeleton, which often harbored secondary macroalgal colonizers. These characteristics have not been previously described in Porites and do not match common Caribbean coral diseases. The lesions were observed only in warmer months and at shallow depths on the fore reef in Belize. Analysis of the microbial community composition based on the V4 hypervariable region of 16S ribosomal RNA genes revealed that the surface microbiomes associated with nonsymptomatic corals were dominated by the members of the genus Endozoicomonas, consistent with other studies. Comparison of the microbiomes of nonsymptomatic and lesioned coral colonies sampled in July and September revealed two distinct groups, inconsistently related to the disease state of the coral, but showing some temporal signal. The loss of Endozoicomonas was characteristic of lesioned corals, which also harbored potential opportunistic pathogens such as Alternaria, Stenotrophomonas, and Achromobacter. The presence of lesions in P. astreoides coincided with a decrease in the relative abundance of Endozoicomonas, rather than the appearance of specific pathogenic taxa.
Project description:A population's potential for rapid evolutionary adaptation can be estimated from the amount of genetic variation in fitness-related traits. Inshore populations of the mustard hill coral (Porites astreoides) have been shown to be more tolerant to thermal stress than offshore populations, but it is unclear whether this difference is due to long-term physiological acclimatization or genetic adaptation. Here, we evaluated variation in growth rate and survival among 38 families of juvenile recruits of P. astreoides spawned by colonies originating from inshore and offshore locations. Recruits were reared in a common garden for 5 weeks and then subjected to two thermal treatments (28? and 31?°C) for 2.5 weeks. The most significant effects were detected during the first 5 weeks, before thermal stress was applied: 27-30% of variance in growth and 94% of variance in recruit survival was attributable to parental effects. Genotyping of eight microsatellite loci indicated that the high early mortality of some of the recruit families was not due to higher inbreeding. Post treatment, parental effects diminished such that only 10-15% of variance in growth rate was explained, which most likely reflects the dissipation of maternal effects. However, offshore-origin recruits still grew significantly less under elevated temperature compared with inshore-origin recruits. These differences observed in naive juvenile corals suggest that population-level variation in fitness in response to different thermal environments has a genetic basis and could represent raw material for natural selection in times of climate change.
Project description:To date, most assessments of coral connectivity have emphasized long-distance horizontal dispersal of propagules from one shallow reef to another. The extent of vertical connectivity, however, remains largely understudied. Here, we used newly-developed and existing DNA microsatellite loci for the brooding coral Porites astreoides to assess patterns of horizontal and vertical connectivity in 590 colonies collected from three depth zones (?10?m, 15-20?m and ?25?m) at sites in Florida, Bermuda and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). We also tested whether maternal transmission of algal symbionts (Symbiodinium spp.) might limit effective vertical connectivity. Overall, shallow P. astreoides exhibited high gene flow between Florida and USVI, but limited gene flow between these locations and Bermuda. In contrast, there was significant genetic differentiation by depth in Florida (Upper Keys, Lower Keys and Dry Tortugas), but not in Bermuda or USVI, despite strong patterns of depth zonation in algal symbionts at two of these locations. Together, these findings suggest that P. astreoides is effective at dispersing both horizontally and vertically despite its brooding reproductive mode and maternal transmission of algal symbionts. In addition, these findings might help explain the ecological success reported for P. astreoides in the Caribbean in recent decades.
Project description:As reef-building corals are increasingly being exposed to persistent threats that operate on both regional and global scales, there is a pressing need to better understand the complex processes that diminish coral populations. This study investigated the impacts of the Florida red tide dinoflagellate Karenia brevis and associated brevetoxins on selected facets of coral biology using Porites astreoides as a model system. When provided with choice assays, P. astreoides larvae were shown to actively avoid seawater containing red tide (5×105 cells L-1-7.6×106 cells L-1) or purified brevetoxins (0.018 ?g mL-1 brevetoxin-2 and 0.0018 ?g mL-1 brevetoxin-3). However, forced exposure to similar treatments induced time-dependent physiological and behavioral changes that were captured by PAM fluorometry and settlement and survival assays, respectively. Adult fragments of P. astreoides exposed to red tide or associated brevetoxins displayed signs of proteomic alterations that were characterized by the use of an iTRAQ-based quantitative proteomic analysis. The novel use of this technique with P. astreoides demonstrated that protein regulation was highly contingent upon biological versus chemical treatment (i.e. live K. brevis vs. solely brevetoxin exposure) and that several broad pathways associated with cell stress were affected including redox homeostasis, protein folding, energy metabolism and reactive oxygen species production. The results herein provide new insight into the ecology, behavior and sublethal stress of reef-building corals in response to K. brevis exposure and underscore the importance of recognizing the potential of red tide to act as a regional stressor to these important foundation species.