Get access

The host transcriptome remains unaltered during the establishment of coral–algal symbioses


Mónica Medina, 4225 Hospital Rd, Atwater, CA 95301-5142, USA. Fax: 209-228-4053; E-mail:


Coral reefs are based on the symbiotic relationship between corals and photosynthetic dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium. We followed gene expression of coral larvae of Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata after exposure to Symbiodinium strains that differed in their ability to establish symbioses. We show that the coral host transcriptome remains almost unchanged during infection by competent symbionts, but is massively altered by symbionts that fail to establish symbioses. Our data suggest that successful coral–algal symbioses depend mainly on the symbionts' ability to enter the host in a stealth manner rather than a more active response from the coral host.