Nutritional control regulates symbiont proliferation and life history in coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis

Guoxin Cui*, Yi Jin Liew, Migle K. Konciute, Ye Zhan, Shiou Han Hung, Jana Thistle, Lucia Gastoldi, Sebastian Schmidt-Roach, Job Dekker, Manuel Aranda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The coral-Symbiodiniaceae symbiosis is fundamental for the coral reef ecosystem. Corals provide various inorganic nutrients to their algal symbionts in exchange for the photosynthates to meet their metabolic demands. When becoming symbionts, Symbiodiniaceae cells show a reduced proliferation rate and a different life history. While it is generally believed that the animal hosts play critical roles in regulating these processes, far less is known about the molecular underpinnings that allow the corals to induce the changes in their symbionts. Results: We tested symbiont cell proliferation and life stage changes in vitro in response to different nutrient-limiting conditions to determine the key nutrients and to compare the respective symbiont transcriptomic profiles to cells in hospite. We then examined the effects of nutrient repletion on symbiont proliferation in coral hosts and quantified life stage transitions in vitro using time-lapse confocal imaging. Here, we show that symbionts in hospite share gene expression and pathway activation profiles with free-living cells under nitrogen-limited conditions, strongly suggesting that symbiont proliferation in symbiosis is limited by nitrogen availability. Conclusions: We demonstrate that nitrogen limitation not only suppresses cell proliferation but also life stage transition to maintain symbionts in the immobile coccoid stage. Nutrient repletion experiments in corals further confirmed that nitrogen availability is the major factor limiting symbiont density in hospite. Our study emphasizes the importance of nitrogen in coral-algae interactions and, more importantly, sheds light on the crucial role of nitrogen in symbiont life history regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103
JournalBMC biology
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Coral
  • Coral-Symbiodiniaceae symbiosis
  • Life history
  • Photosymbiosis
  • Symbiodiniaceae
  • Symbiont population control
  • Symbiont proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Structural Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Plant Science
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Nutritional control regulates symbiont proliferation and life history in coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this