Unravelling Symbiodinium diversity with next generation sequencing from environmental extremes of Western Australia

This poster was presented at the Pan American Coral Reefs Conference in Merida, Mexico, in October 2013.

The research aims to:

  • document the diversity of Symbiodinium communities in dominant Acropora species from two contrasting marine environments at the latitudinal limits of the genus' distribution in Western Australia
  • compare the power of detection using Sanger v. high-throughput approaches


A single coral host may harbour a variety of Symbiodinium clades at any one point in time (see Baker 2003 for a review). which is thought to be a mechanism to facilitate acclimatization in a stochastic environment-during periods of prolonged thermal stress, corals have the ability to shuffle around their Symbiodinium so as to increase in proportion the most thermally tolerant strains, known as the adaptive bleaching hypothesis {Buddemeier and Fautin1993).

Conventional molecular techniques used to evaluate Symbiodinium diversity in cnidarians are only capable of detecting the dominant clade from a single sample (April and Gates 2007) and often fail to identify rare clades present at levels below 10%. Although perhaps not a s ecologically or physiologically Important as the dominant clades, background clades may prove to be major players influencing the acclimating potential of coral communities to stressors associated with climate change. In turn, a comprehensive and accurate evaluation of Symbiodinium diversity is central to predicting how a coral reef system might respond to climatic fluctuation.

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