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Evidence of adaptation in coral-algal symbiosis at mesophotic depths in the Northwest Gulf of Mexico
EP24188
Poster Title: Evidence of adaptation in coral-algal symbiosis at mesophotic depths in the Northwest Gulf of Mexico
Submitted on 28 Jun 2016
Author(s): Jennifer Polinski, Joshua Voss
Affiliations: Florida Atlantic University, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
This poster was presented at 13th International Coral Reef Symposium
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Poster Information
Abstract: Many coral species common in shallow habitats also live in the mesophotic zone (30-150 m). Similar to shallow corals, many mesophotic corals maintain important symbioses with photosynthetic microalgae in the genus Symbiodinium. Despite the importance of the coral-algal symbiosis in corals' ability to thrive in multiple dynamic environments, few studies have focused on symbionts associated with mesophotic corals. This study compares the algal symbiont assemblages in Montastraea cavernosa found at shallow (20-25 m) and mesophotic (45-50 m) sites at the East and West banks of Flower Garden Banks (FGB) National Marine Sanctuary. Zooxanthellae densities per unit area of coral tissue are significantly higher in mesophotic corals at FGB. Additionally, while chlorophyll concentrations are similar between depths, the overall chlorophyll concentrations per unit area of coral tissue are significantly higher in mesophotic corals. These results suggest that increased zooxanthellae densities may be a method of adaptation for zooxanthellate corals in mesophotic reef environments. Zooxanthellae densities and chlorophyll concentrations did not differ between the East and West banks. Next generation sequencing of the ITS2 gene provides a comprehensive assessment of symbiont community structure, including the observation that assemblage diversity was similar between depths and banks. Additionally, Symbiodinium type C1 was the dominant symbiont type. This study and additional comparisons between shallow and mesophotic reefs are designed to help inform management strategies for FGB and similar coral reef communities.Summary: Zooxanthellae assemblages in shallow and mesophotic Montastraea cavernosa were characterized and compared at East and West Flower Garden Banks NMS and McGrail Bank. Mesophotic corals contained more zooxanthellae cells and chlorophyll than shallow corals, but zooxanthellae types making up assemblages were similar between depths and banks.Report abuse »
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