Genetic divergence across habitats in the widespread coral Seriatopora hystrix and its associated Symbiodinium

Bongaerts, Pim, Riginos, Cynthia, Ridgway, Tyrone, Sampayo, Eugenia M., van Oppen, Madeline J.H., Englebert, Norbert, Vermeulen, Francisca, and Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove (2010) Genetic divergence across habitats in the widespread coral Seriatopora hystrix and its associated Symbiodinium. PLoS ONE, 5 (5). pp. 1-11.

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Abstract

Background: Coral reefs are hotspots of biodiversity, yet processes of diversification in these ecosystems are poorly understood. The environmental heterogeneity of coral reef environments could be an important contributor to diversification, however, evidence supporting ecological speciation in corals is sparse. Here, we present data from a widespread coral species that reveals a strong association of host and symbiont lineages with specific habitats, consistent with distinct, sympatric gene pools that are maintained through ecologically-based selection.

Methodology/Principal Findings: Populations of a common brooding coral, Seriatopora hystrix, were sampled from three adjacent reef habitats (spanning a ~30 m depth range) at three locations on the Great Barrier Reef (n = 336). The populations were assessed for genetic structure using a combination of mitochondrial (putative control region) and nuclear (three microsatellites) markers for the coral host, and the ITS2 region of the ribosomal DNA for the algal symbionts (Symbiodinium). Our results show concordant genetic partitioning of both the coral host and its symbionts across the different habitats, independent of sampling location.

Conclusions/Significance: This study demonstrates that coral populations and their associated symbionts can be highly structured across habitats on a single reef. Coral populations from adjacent habitats were found to be genetically isolated from each other, whereas genetic similarity was maintained across similar habitat types at different locations. The most parsimonious explanation for the observed genetic partitioning across habitats is that adaptation to the local environment has caused ecological divergence of distinct genetic groups within S. hystrix.

Item ID: 16952
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Additional Information:

Copyright: © 2010 Bongaerts et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ISSN: 1932-6203
Date Deposited: 14 May 2011 09:33
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0604 Genetics > 060411 Population, Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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