Extensive Differences in Gene Expression between Symbiotic and Aposymbiotic Cnidarians.

Related Articles

Extensive Differences in Gene Expression between Symbiotic and Aposymbiotic Cnidarians.

G3 (Bethesda). 2013 Dec 24;

Authors: Lehnert EM, Mouchka ME, Burriesci MS, Gallo ND, Schwarz JA, Pringle JR

Coral reefs provide habitats for a disproportionate number of marine species relative to the small area of the oceans that they occupy. The mutualism between the cnidarian animal hosts and their intracellular dinoflagellate symbionts provides the nutritional foundation for coral growth and formation of reef structures, as algal photosynthesis can provide >90% of the host's total energy. Disruption of this symbiosis ("coral bleaching") is occurring on a large scale due primarily to anthropogenic factors and poses a major threat to the future of coral reefs. Despite the importance of this symbiosis, the cellular mechanisms involved in its establishment, maintenance, and breakdown remain largely unknown. Here we report our continued development of genomic tools to study these mechanisms in Aiptasia, a small sea anemone with great promise as a model system for studies of cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. Specifically, we have generated de novo assemblies of the transcriptomes of both a clonal line of symbiotic anemones and their endogenous dinoflagellate symbionts. We then compared transcript abundances in animals with and without dinoflagellates. This analysis identified >900 differentially expressed genes and allowed us to generate testable hypotheses about the cellular functions affected by symbiosis establishment. The differentially regulated transcripts include >60 encoding proteins that may play roles in transporting various nutrients between the symbiotic partners; many more encoding proteins functioning in several metabolic pathways, providing clues as to how the transported nutrients may be used by the partners; and several encoding proteins that may be involved in host recognition and tolerance of the dinoflagellate.

PMID: 24368779 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]