Population structure of Symbiodinium sp. associated with the common sea fan, Gorgonia ventalina, in the Florida Keys across distance, depth, and time


Numerous marine invertebrates form endosymbiotic relationships with dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium. However, few studies have examined the fine-scale population structure of these symbionts. Here, we describe the genetic structure of Symbiodinium type ‘‘B1/B184’’ inhabiting the gorgonian Gorgonia ventalina along the Florida Keys. Six polymorphic microsatellite loci were utilized to examine 16 populations along the Upper, Middle, and Lower Keys spanning a range of *200 km. Multiple statistical tests detected significant differentiation in 54–92% of the 120 possible pairwise comparisons between localities, suggesting low levels of gene flow in these dinoflagellates. In general, populations clustered by geographic region and/or reefs in close proximity. Some of the sharpest population differentiation was detected between Symbiodinium from deep and shallow sites on the same reef. In spite of the high degree of population structure, alleles and genotypes were shared among localities, indicating some connectivity between Symbiodinium populations associated with G. ventalina. 

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