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Keywords:

  • cell–cell recognition;
  • cp23S-rDNA;
  • Symbiodinium ;
  • symbiont;
  • symbiosis;
  • zooxanthellae

Symbiodinium reside intracellularly in a complex symbiosome (host and symbiont-derived) within cnidarian hosts in a specific host-symbiont association. Symbiodinium is a diverse genus with variation greater than other dinoflagellate orders. In this paper, our investigation into specificity examines antigenic variation in the algal mucilage secretions at the host-symbiont interface. Cultured Symbiodinium from a variety of clades were labeled with one of two antibodies to symbiont mucilage (PC3, developed using a clade B alga cultured from Aiptasia pallida; BF10, developed using a clade F alga cultured from Briareum sp.). The labeling was visualized with a fluorescent marker and examined with epifluorescence and confocal microscopy. PC3 antigen was found in cultured Symbiodinium from clades A and B, but not clades C, D, E and F. The correlation between labeling and clade may account for some of the specificity between host and symbiont in the field. Within clades A and B there was variation in the amount of label present. BF10 antigen was more specific and only found in cultures of the same cp23S-rDNA strain the antibody was created against. These results indicate that the mucilage secretions do vary both qualitatively and quantitatively amongst Symbiodinium strains. Since the mucilage forms the host-symbiont interface, variation in its molecular composition is likely to be the source of any signals involved in recognition and specificity.