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Eukarya associated with the stony coral Oculina patagonica from the Mediterranean Sea

June 30, 2014

Oculina patagonica is a putative alien scleractinian coral from the Southwest Atlantic that inhabits across the Mediterranean Sea. Here, we have addressed the diversity of Eukarya associated with this coral and its changes related to the environmental conditions and coral status. A total of 46 colonies of O. patagonicawere taken from Alicante coast (Spain) and Pietra Ligure coast (Italy) and analyzed using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of the small-subunit 18S rRNA and 16S plastid rRNA genes, internal transcribed spacer region 2 (ITS 2) analyses, and electron microscopy. Our results show that Eukarya and plastid community associated to O. patagonica change with environmental conditions and coral status. Cryptic species, which can be difficult to identify by optical methods, were distinguished by 18S rRNA gene DGGE: the barnacle Megatrema anglicum, which was detected at two locations, and two boring sponges related toCliona sp. and Siphonodictyon coralliphagum detected in samples from Tabarca and Alicante Harbour, respectively. Eukaryotic phototrophic community from the skeletal matrix of healthy corals was dominated by Ochrosphaera sp. while bleached corals from the Harbour and Tabarca were associated to different uncultured phototrophic organism. Differences in ultrastructural morphologies of the zooxanthellae between healthy and bleached corals were observed. Nevertheless, no differences were found in Symbiodiniumcommunity among time, environments, coral status and location, showing that O. patagonica hosted only one genotype of Symbiodinium belonging to clade B2. The fact that this clade has not been previously detected in other Mediterranean corals and is more frequent in the tropical Western Atlantic, is a new evidence that O. patagonica is an alien species in the Mediterranean Sea.

Rubio-Portillo E, Souza-Egipsy V, Ascaso C, de los Rios Murillo A, Ramos-Esplá AA, Antón J, in press: Eukarya associated with the stony coral Oculina patagonica from the Mediterranean Sea, Marine Genomics, doi:10.1016/j.margen.2014.06.002. Article (subscription required).

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