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Symbiont diversity in scleractinian corals from tropical reefs and subtropical non-reef communities in Taiwan

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We examined zooxanthellae diversity in scleractinian corals from southern Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago, a tropical coral reef and a subtropical non-reefal community, respectively. Zooxanthellae diversity was investigated in 52 species of scleractinian corals from 26 genera and 13 families, using restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), and phylogenetic analyses of the nuclear small-subunit ribosomal DNA (nssrDNA) and large-subunit ribosomal DNA (nlsrDNA). RFLP and phylogenetic analyses of nuclear-encoded ribosomal RNA genes showed that Symbiodinium clade C was the dominant zooxanthellae in scleractinian corals in the seas around Taiwan, Symbiodinium clade D was also found in some species. Both Symbiodinium clade C and D were found in colonies of seven species of scleractinian corals. Symbiodinium clade D was associated with corals that inhabit either shallow water or the reef edge in deep water, supporting the hypothesis that Symbiodinium clade D is a relatively stress-tolerant zooxanthellae found in marginal habitats.

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