Symbiosis across developmental stages
Very few studies have examined the combined stress of symbiosis and elevated temperature on host-symbiont associations during early developmental life stages. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie the formation of coral-algal partnership is critical to predict how coral recruitment and resilience will change in periods of warmer seas forecasted with climate change.
In this project, we examined larval health and survival, symbiont colonization, and gene transcriptional profiling under the combined stress of symbiosis and elevated temperature. We used Acropora digitifera, a coral model that is thermally sensitive and dominates reef in southern Japan.
We found that the combined stress decreased larval survival, and decreased symbiont colonization and symbiont density during two weeks of observation. Also, we identified novel transcriptional patterns in the coral molecular stress-response through RNASeq, an unbiased, high-throughput approach to expression profiling. Our data suggest that the physical environment and biotic pressures dramatically decreases larval health prior to settlement in A. digitifera.