[Coral-List] Invasive mutualistic microbe

Todd LaJeunesse tcl3 at psu.edu
Wed Jun 3 12:59:15 EDT 2015

Dear coral-list subscribers,

We wish to draw your attention to a recent report in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences USA entitled, “Microbial invasion of the
Caribbean by an Indo-Pacific coral zooxanthella”.

Briefly, the paper presents evidence that a species of coral endosymbiont,
Symbiodinium trenchii, was recently introduced to the Caribbean from the
Indo-Pacific (the precise location of its source is currently unknown) and
as spread across the entire region where it now occurs in many different
reef-building corals, often at low background levels in the tissues of
these animals.

Symbiodinium trenchii behaves opportunistically and proliferates within and
between coral colonies during major thermal stress events, but becomes less
common during times of environmental normalcy. While it can provide some
thermal tolerance to colonies harboring it, for one group of dominant
reef-building corals, it can reduce rates of calcification by half. This
research ties together the invasion biology of microbes and the plight of
coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean afflicted by climate warming and
environmental degradation. For further details please see:


A recent post by Ed Yong at National Geographic also talks about this work:


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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