Molecular insights into the Darwin paradox of coral reefs from the sea anemone Aiptasia

Guoxin Cui*, Migle K. Konciute, Lorraine Ling, Luke Esau, Jean Baptiste Raina, Baoda Han, Octavio R. Salazar, Jason S. Presnell, Nils Rädecker, Huawen Zhong, Jessica Menzies, Phillip A. Cleves, Yi Jin Liew, Cory J. Krediet, Val Sawiccy, Maha J. Cziesielski, Paul Guagliardo, Jeremy Bougoure, Mathieu Pernice, Heribert HirtChristian R. Voolstra, Virginia M. Weis, John R. Pringle, Manuel Aranda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Symbiotic cnidarians such as corals and anemones form highly productive and biodiverse coral reef ecosystems in nutrient-poor ocean environments, a phenomenon known as Darwin’s paradox. Resolving this paradox requires elucidating the molecular bases of efficient nutrient distribution and recycling in the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. Using the sea anemone Aiptasia, we show that during symbiosis, the increased availability of glucose and the presence of the algae jointly induce the coordinated up-regulation and relocalization of glucose and ammonium transporters. These molecular responses are critical to support symbiont functioning and organism-wide nitrogen assimilation through glutamine synthetase/glutamate synthase–mediated amino acid biosynthesis. Our results reveal crucial aspects of the molecular mechanisms underlying nitrogen conservation and recycling in these organisms that allow them to thrive in the nitrogen-poor ocean environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereadf7108
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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