Evidence for coral range expansion accompanied by reduced diversity of Symbiodinium genotypes

Grupstra, Carsten G. B.Coma, Rafael ; Ribes, MartaLeydet, Karine PosbicParkinson, John EverettMcDonald, KellyCatllà, MarcVoolstra, Christian R.Hellberg, Michael E.Coffroth, Mary Alice. Coral Reefs : DOI:10.1007/s00338-017-1589-2 (2017) DIGITAL CSIC

Zooxanthellate corals are threatened by climate change but may be able to escape increasing temperatures by colonizing higher latitudes. To determine the effect of host range expansion on symbiont genetic diversity, we examined genetic variation among populations of Symbiodinium psygmophilum associated with Oculina patagonica, a range-expanding coral that acquires its symbionts through horizontal transmission. We optimized five microsatellite primer pairs for S. psygmophilum and tested them on Oculina spp. samples from the western North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. We then used them to compare symbiont genotype diversity between an Iberian core and an expansion front population of O. patagonica. Only one multilocus S. psygmophilum genotype was identified at the expansion front, and it was shared with the core population, which harbored seven multilocus genotypes. This pattern suggests that O. patagonica range expansion is accompanied by reduced symbiont genetic diversity, possibly due to limited dispersal of symbionts or local selection.