The distribution of the thermally tolerant symbiont lineage (Symbiodinium clade D) in corals from Hawaii: correlations with host and the history of ocean thermal stress

Authors

  • Michael Stat,

    Corresponding author
    1. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia
    2. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Wembley, Western Australia, Australia
    • The UWA Oceans Institute and Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Xavier Pochon,

    1. The Cawthron Institute, Nelson, New Zealand
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Erik C. Franklin,

    1. Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii, Kaneohe, Hawaii
    Search for more papers by this author
  • John F. Bruno,

    1. Department of Biology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Kenneth S. Casey,

    1. National Oceanographic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Elizabeth R. Selig,

    1. The Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Ecosystem Science and Economics, Conservation International, Arlington, Virginia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ruth D. Gates

    1. Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaii, Kaneohe, Hawaii
    Search for more papers by this author

Correspondence

Michael Stat, The UWA Oceans Institute and Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia 6009. Tel: +61-08-6369-4077; Fax: +61-08-6369-4585; E-mail: michael.stat@uwa.edu.au

Abstract

Spatially intimate symbioses, such as those between scleractinian corals and unicellular algae belonging to the genus Symbiodinium, can potentially adapt to changes in the environment by altering the taxonomic composition of their endosymbiont communities. We quantified the spatial relationship between the cumulative frequency of thermal stress anomalies (TSAs) and the taxonomic composition of Symbiodinium in the corals Montipora capitata, Porites lobata, and Porites compressa across the Hawaiian archipelago. Specifically, we investigated whether thermally tolerant clade D Symbiodinium was in greater abundance in corals from sites with high frequencies of TSAs. We recovered 2305 Symbiodinium ITS2 sequences from 242 coral colonies in lagoonal reef habitats at Pearl and Hermes Atoll, French Frigate Shoals, and Kaneohe Bay, Oahu in 2007. Sequences were grouped into 26 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) with 12 OTUs associated with Montipora and 21 with Porites. Both coral genera associated with Symbiodinium in clade C, and these co-occurred with clade D in M. capitata and clade G in P. lobata. The latter represents the first report of clade G Symbiodinium in P. lobata. In M. capitata (but not Porites spp.), there was a significant correlation between the presence of Symbiodinium in clade D and a thermal history characterized by high cumulative frequency of TSAs. The endogenous community composition of Symbiodinium and an association with clade D symbionts after long-term thermal disturbance appear strongly dependent on the taxa of the coral host.

Ancillary