[Coral-List] Black band disease cyanobacterium genus and species described

Laurie Richardson richardl at fiu.edu
Thu Sep 20 08:24:30 EDT 2012

Hi all - the same issue of Phycologia with the new Symbiodinium species also has a paper from my lab (Casamatta et al., 2012) formally describing the black band disease cyanobacterium.  This cyanobacterium, referred to over the years as Phormidium, Oscillatoria, Pseudoscillatoria, and various strains, was characterized using a polyphasic approach (sequencing, phylogeny, ecology, physiology) as the new genus and species Roseofilum reptotaenium ("creeping band of red filaments").  It is a formal classification under the Botanic Code.  An in situ image of black band disease is on the cover of the September issue of the journal.  Best, Laurie

Laurie Richardson, Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
Florida International University
Miami, Florida 33199
tel:  305/348-1988


From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml..noaa.gov] on behalf of James Davis Reimer [jreimer at sci.u-ryukyu.ac.jp]
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:34 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] new species described in Symbiodinium using sequence      data

Dear Coral Listers:

We would like to give you all a "heads up" on a new paper we have just had published in the Journal of Phycology.

Put briefly, two new species of Symbiodinium were formally described primarily using DNA sequences.

The paper is:
A genetics-based description of Symbiodinium minutum sp. nov. and S. psygmophilum sp. nov. (dinophyceae), two dinoflagellates symbiotic with Cnidaria. Todd C. Lajeunesse, John E. Parkinson and James D. Reimer
Article first published online: 18 SEP 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2012..01217.x

We hope this paper can contribute to a new framework for formal taxonomic understanding of Symbiodinium spp. and their diversity. Please note a press release is attached below for a more complete explanation of the paper.


James Reimer - University of the Ryukyus

Press release from Penn State:

DNA Clarifies Classification of Coral Symbionts

For nearly 260 years -- since Carl Linnaeus developed his system of naming plants and animals -- researchers have classified species based on visual attributes, such as color, shape and size. In the past few decades, however, scientists have found that species can be more accurately identified by sequencing their DNA. A group of single-celled algae -- called Symbiodinium -- that live inside corals and are critical to their survival -- are only now being separated into species using DNA analysis, according to biologists.

“Unfortunately with Symbiodinium, scientists have been hindered by a traditional morphology-based system of species identification that doesn’t work because these organisms all pretty much look the same – small round brown cells,” said Todd LaJeunesse, assistant professor of biology, Penn State. “This delay in adopting the more accurate convention of identifying species using genetic techniques has greatly impeded progress in the research of symbiotic reef-building corals, especially with regard to their ability to withstand global warming.”

In the current issue of the Journal of Phycology, LaJeunesse and his colleagues looked at Symbiodinium that previously had been grouped together as subsets of the same species. They examined specific DNA markers -- identifiers -- from the organisms’ cell nuclei, mitochondria and chloroplasts. Even though the symbionts appeared very much the same, except for their size, genetic evidence confirmed that the two are different species altogether.

These findings indicate that hundreds of other coral symbionts already identified with preliminarily genetic data are also distinct species with unique ecological distributions.  “The recognition of symbiont species diversity should substantially improve research into reef-building corals and facilitate breakthroughs in our understanding of their complex biology,” said LaJeunesse.

LaJeunesse began his work of classifying Symbiodinium using genetic techniques as part of his research into their ecology and evolution and in later studies of coral bleaching events related to global warming. When the ocean water becomes too warm, many Symbiodinium suffer and are expelled from the coral colony, making the animal appear white, nutrient deprived and often dead. To better understand this phenomenon, LaJeunesse needed to understand which species of Symbiodinium were present.

“Knowing exactly which Symbiodinium species you’re dealing with is important because certain species of Symbiodinium associate with certain species of coral,” he said. “Although many corals are dying as a result of global climate change, some may be able to survive because they associate with Symbiodinium species that are better adapted to warm water temperatures.”

Other researchers on this project were John Everett Parkinson, graduate student in biology, Penn State, and James Davis Reimer, associate professor of biology, University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa.

The National Science Foundation supported this research.


James Davis Reimer, Ph.D.
University of the Ryukyus - Associate Professor

MISE (Molecular Invertebrate Systematics and Ecology) Lab
Rising Star Program
Trans-disciplinary Organization for Subtropical Island Studies (TRO-SIS)
University of the Ryukyus
1 Senbaru, Nishihara, Okinawa
JAPAN 903-0213
Tel: +81-98-895-8542
Fax: +81-98-895-8576

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