Reduced Symbiodiniaceae diversity in Palythoa tuberculosa at a heavily acidified coral reef

Symbiodiniaceae diversity in hosts is known to change with the environment and particularly with temperature and light intensity. However, higher levels of pCO2, as could be expected under future ocean acidification scenarios, have been documented to show little to no effect in influencing the diversity of Symbiodiniaceae in hosts in previous studies. In this study, we examined hypervariable psbAncr sequences to identify the Cladocopium (former Symbiodinium ‘Clade C’) diversity within the zooxanthellate zoantharian Palythoa tuberculosa at an acidified reef in southern Japan. Palythoa tuberculosa were collected from a reef at the volcanic island of Iwotorishima in southern Japan; specimens from a high pCO2 site and from a nearby control (normal pCO2) site (Inoue et al. in Nat Clim Change 3:683–687, 2013). We observed a statistically significant reduction in Cladocopium diversity at the high pCO2 site with only one Cladocopium lineage present, compared to at the control site with two lineages present. Our results demonstrate that higher pCO2 can potentially negatively influence the diversity of host Symbiodiniaceae within anthozoan hosts, an important implication in the face of ongoing ocean acidification and climate change.

Wee H. B., Kurihara H. & Reimer J. D., 2019. Reduced Symbiodiniaceae diversity in Palythoa tuberculosa at a heavily acidified coral reef. Coral Reefs 38 (2): 311-319. Article (subscription required).

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