Recruit symbiosis establishment and Symbiodiniceae composition influenced by adult corals and reef sediment

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Alizah AliSarah W. Davies


For most reef-building corals, the establishment of symbiosis occurs via horizontal transmission, where juvenile coral recruits acquire their algal symbionts (family Symbiodiniaceae) from their surrounding environment post-settlement. This transmission strategy allows corals to interact with a diverse array of symbionts, potentially facilitating adaptation to the newly settled environment. We exposed aposymbiotic Pseudodiploria strigosa recruits from the Flower Garden Banks to natal reef sediment (C-S+), symbiotic adult coral fragments (C+S-), sediment and coral fragments (C+S+), or seawater controls (C-S-) and quantified rates of symbiont uptake and Symbiodiniaceae community composition within each recruit using metabarcoding of the ITS2 locus. The most rapid uptake was observed in C+S+ treatments and this combination also led to the highest symbiont alpha diversity in recruits. While C-S+ treatments exhibited the next highest uptake rate, only one individual recruit successfully established symbiosis in the C+S- treatment, suggesting that sediment both serves as a direct symbiont source for coral recruits and promotes (or, potentially, mediates) transmission from adult coral colonies. In turn, presence of adult corals facilit...Continue Reading

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