J Syst Evol ›› 2009, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (4): 321-326.DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-6831.2009.00034.x

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

Diversity of symbiotic algae of the genus Symbiodinium in scleractinian corals of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea

1,2 Zhi‐Jun DONG 1 Hui HUANG* 1 Liang‐Min HUANG 3 Yuan‐Chao LI   

  1. 1 ( Key Laboratory of Marine Bio-resourses Sustainable Utilization, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510301, China)
    2 ( Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone Research for Sustainable Development, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yantai 264003, China)
    3 ( Hainan Marine Development and Design Institute, Haikou 570125, China) *Author for correspondence: E-mail: coral@scsio.ac.cn; Tel. & Fax: +86-20-84460294.
  • Received:2009-01-06 Published:2009-07-09

Abstract: Symbiotic algae (Symbiodinium sp.) in scleractinian corals are important in understanding how coral reefs will respond to global climate change. The present paper reports on the diversity of Symbiodinium sp. in 48 scleractinian coral species from 25 genera and 10 families sampled from the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, which were identified with the use of restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of the nuclear ribosomal DNA large subunit gene (rDNA). The results showed that: (i) Symbiodinium Clade C was the dominant zooxanthellae in scleractinian corals in the Xisha Islands; (ii) Symbiodinium Clade D was found in the corals Montipora aequituberculata, Galaxea fascicularis, and Plerogyra sinuosa; and (iii) both Symbiodinium Clades C and D were found simultaneously in Montipora digitata, Psammocora contigua, and Galaxea fascicularis. A poor capacity for symbiosis polymorphism, as uncovered by RFLP, in the Xisha Islands indicates that the scleractinian corals have low adaptability to environmental changes. Further studies are needed to investigate zooxanthellae diversity using other molecular markers.

Key words: global changes, restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), scleractinian coral, South China Sea, symbiotic algae (Symbiodinium sp.), Xisha Islands