Green fluorescence from cnidarian hosts attracts symbiotic algae

Aihara, Yusuke, Maruyama, Shinichiro, Baird, Andrew H., Iguchi, Akira, Takahashi, Shunichi, and Minagawa, Jun (2019) Green fluorescence from cnidarian hosts attracts symbiotic algae. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116 (6). pp. 2118-2123.

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Reef-building corals thrive in nutrient-poor marine environments because of an obligate symbiosis with photosynthetic dinoflagel-lates of the genus Symbiodinium. Symbiosis is established in most corals through the uptake of Symbiodinium from the environment. Corals are sessile for most of their life history, whereas free-living Symbiodinium are motile; hence, a mechanism to attract Symbiodinium would greatly increase the probability of encounter between host and symbiont. Here, we examined whether corals can attract free-living motile Symbiodinium by their green fluorescence, emitted by the excitation of endogenous GFP by purple-blue light. We found that Symbiodinium have positive and negative phototaxis toward weak green and strong purpleblue light, respectively. Under light conditions that cause corals to emit green fluorescence, (e.g., strong blue light), Symbiodinium were attracted toward live coral fragments. Symbiodinium were also attracted toward an artificial green fluorescence dye with similar excitation and emission spectra to coral-GFP. In the field, more Symbiodinium were found in traps painted with a green fluorescence dye than in controls. Our results revealed a biological signaling mechanism between the coral host and its potential symbionts.

Item ID: 57177
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1091-6490
Keywords: phototaxis, GFP, symbiosis, fluorescence, coral
Funders: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB), Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research 18K19240, 16K14814 & 16H06552, NIBB Collaborative Research Program 15-362, 16-334 & 17-310, GBMF Marine Microbiology Initiative 4985
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2019 07:51
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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