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Analysis of “Protein evolution in two co-occurring
types of Symbiodinium: an exploration into the genetic basis of
thermal tolerance in Symbiodiniumclade D”

 

 

In
this paper the reasons identified for high thermal tolerance of Clade D include
Fatty acid desaturase, molecular chaperones and proteins involved in
photosynthesis among other genes. It was also shown that clade C and D co-occur
in the majority of the sampled coral colonies, this suggests corals are able to
acclimatize to changing thermal conditions by changing the proportions of the
two clades in their symbiont communities.

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Reef
building coral are dependent on symbiosis between themselves and photosynthetic
dinoflagellates for their energy needs. However, this symbiosis is at risk due
to climate change and the rising temperatures. Diversity within symbiodinium is
thought to allow corals to adapt to changing environment by changing the type
of symbiodinium they partner with. Clade D, a common clade of symbiodinium to
partner with reef building coral, was hypothesised to be  important for reefs and appear to provide high
thermal tolerance. However, the functional basis for this thermal tolerance had
not been explored, hence this exploration. Coding sequences were compared with
clades A-D- the 4 most common clades of symbiodinium commonly found on reef
building corals.

 

Studies
in the past have found evolutionary divergence between these symbiodinium
clades but little has been known about divergence at the genomic level,
especially in protein genes.  Results
from this paper show large genetic divergence through most of the coding genes
between all 4 clades comonly found on the corals.  These results give more support for the
several symbiodinium clades within the individual coral colonies and therefore
the ability of the colonies to adjust to changes in environment by changing the
proportions of their endosymbionts.

 

The levels of diverge estimated in this research may have
been underestimated as the divergence was only measured at loci that where
similar enough on the amino acid level to be identified as orthologs, also the
estimates are only based on single nucleotide polymorphisms and don’t include
insertion or deletion differences. However, errors in sequencing and alignment may
be adding to these high levels of divergence.  The high levels of genomic divergence identified
amongst the four symbiodinium clades could suggest that they should be placed
in higher levels of taxonomic division.

 

 

 

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