Glucose-Induced Trophic Shift in an Endosymbiont Dinoflagellate with Physiological and Molecular Consequences.
Interactions between the dinoflagellate endosymbiont Symbiodinium
and its cnidarian hosts (e.g. corals, sea anemones) are the foundation of coral-reef ecosystems. Carbon flow between the partners is a hallmark of this mutualism, but the mechanisms governing this flow and its impact on symbiosis remain poorly understood. We showed previously that although Symbiodinium
strain SSB01 can grow photoautotrophically, it can grow mixotrophically or heterotrophically when supplied with Glc, a metabolite normally transferred from the alga to its host. Here we show that Glc supplementation of SSB01 cultures causes a loss of pigmentation and photosynthetic activity, disorganization of thylakoid membranes, accumulation of lipid bodies, and alterations of cell-surface morphology. We used global transcriptome analyses to determine if these physiological changes were correlated with changes in gene expression. Glc-supplemented cells exhibited a marked reduction in levels of plastid transcripts encoding photosynthetic proteins, although most nuclear-encoded transcripts (including those for proteins involved in lipid synthesis and formation of the extracellular matrix) exhibited little change in their abundances. However, the altered carbon metabolism in Glc-supplemented cells was correlated with modest alterations (approximately 2x) in the levels of some nuclear-encoded transcripts for sugar transporters. Finally, Glc-bleached SSB01 cells appeared unable to efficiently populate anemone larvae. Together, these results suggest links between energy metabolism and cellular physiology, morphology, and symbiotic interactions. However, the results also show that in contrast to many other organisms, Symbiodinium
can undergo dramatic physiological changes that are not reflected by major changes in the abundances of nuclear-encoded transcripts and thus presumably reflect posttranscriptional regulatory processes.
Xiang, T; Jinkerson, RE; Clowez, S; Tran, C; Krediet, CJ; Onishi, M; Cleves, PA; Pringle, JR; Grossman, AR
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