[Coral-List] How useful are Symbiodinium Clade designations?

Todd LaJeunesse tcl3 at psu.edu
Mon Jun 16 13:41:59 EDT 2014

Dear Colleagues,

Nothing has garnered more attention toward Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae)
diversity than in our understanding of how many reef corals are affected by
thermal anomalies that result in bleaching, and many species in the D
lineage are a large focal point of this work at the moment.  My colleagues
and I wish to bring your attention to a new publication in the journal
*Phycologia* that describes 3 ecologically (i.e. functionally) distinct
species of Clade D Symbiodinium.  http://www.phycologia.org/toc/phya/53/4

LaJeunesse TC, Wham DC, Pettay DT, Parkinson JE, Keshavmurthy S, Chen CA
(2014) Ecologically differentiated stress tolerant endosymbionts in the
dinoflagellate genus *Symbiodinium* Clade D are different species.
Phycologia 53:305-319.

As more Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae) species are described, along with
several other data sources coming to light that are showing significant
physiological differences among closely related symbionts (i.e. at or below
the 'intra-clade' scale), perhaps it is time to reflect upon the common
convention of referring to “clades” when discussing Symbiodinium diversity,
ecology, and physiology.

Importantly, we as a community should consider whether “clade” designations
have surpassed their utility in the accurate dissemination of scientific

In contemplating this, we encourage those interested in this topic to read
the *Phycologia* paper and consider how resolving species within a clade
might affect their research on corals and their symbionts and how future
findings are presented and interpreted.

Todd C. LaJeunesse PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
327 Mueller Laboratory
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802

WebSITE: http://www.personal.psu.edu/tcl3/index.html

Office: 814 863 2038
Fax: 814 865 9131

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