Direct evidende of sex and a hypothesis about meiosis in Symbiodiniaceae
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Dinoflagellates in the family Symbiodiniaceae are obligate endosymbionts of diverse marine invertebrates, including corals, and impact the capacity of their hosts to respond to climate change-driven ocean warming. Understanding the conditions under which increased genetic variation in Symbiodiniaceae arises via sexual recombination can support efforts to evolve thermal tolerance in these symbionts and ultimately mitigate coral bleaching, the breakdown of the coral-Symbiodiniaceae partnership under stress. However, direct observations of meiosis in Symbiodiniaceae have not been reported, despite various lines of indirect evidence that it occurs. We present the first cytological evidence of sex in Symbiodiniaceae based on nuclear DNA content and morphology using Image Flow Cytometry, Cell Sorting and Confocal Microscopy. We show the Symbiodiniaceae species, Cladocopium latusorum, undergoes gamete conjugation, zygote formation, and meiosis within a dominant reef-building coral in situ. On ...