Molecular diversity of dinoflagellate symbionts of Cnidaria: the psbA minicircle of Symbiodinium.Protist. 2006 Jun; 157(2):159-71.P
Dinoflagellate algae of the genus Symbiodinium are important symbionts within corals and other benthic marine animals. The molecular diversity of Symbiodinium has been described mainly by use of ribosomal DNA sequence data. We tested whether minicircle sequences, which appear to form the chloroplast genome in many dinoflagellates, could be used as a marker for molecular diversity among symbionts found in corals and sea anemones. Partial and full-length sequences for psbA were obtained from environmental samples of coral and sea anemones of wide-ranging geographical distribution. Phylogenetic trees constructed with partial psbA sequences were consistent with the known phylotypes of the isolates. Further sequencing suggested that the psbA gene is present on a minicircle in all Symbiodinium phylotypes. The length and DNA sequence of the non-coding portion of the minicircles varied considerably among Symbiodinium phylotypes. In two Symbiodinium isolates from different phylotypes an elaborate pattern of repeat sequences of unknown function was found in the non-coding region. Phylogenetic analysis of the non-coding region of the psbA minicircle indicates that minicircle sequences could be a useful chloroplast-derived marker for differentiating both closely related and distantly related Symbiodinium isolates.