Symbiotic dinoflagellates in marine Cnidaria: Diversity and function

M. S. Goodson, L. F. Whitehead, A. E. Douglas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium are the most common symbiotic algae in benthic marine Cnidaria. This review addresses our current understanding of the molecular diversity of Symbiodinium and the function of these algae in symbiosis. Ribosomal DNA sequence data indicate that Symbiodinium is a diverse but probably monophyletic group. They also provide a phylogenetic framework for the analysis of the functional diversity of Symbiodinium (i.e. the variation in phenotype among various Symbiodinium genotypes), especially in relation to their nutritional role in the symbiosis. Symbiodinium provides the animal host with photosynthetic carbon and may also recycle animal nitrogenous waste. These interactions are advantageous to animals in shallow, oligotrophic waters. Recent developments in understanding of both photosynthate release and nitrogen relations in the symbiosis are reviewed. They provide the basis to explore the variation in nutritional interactions among different Symbiodinium genotypes. This review highlights areas of current uncertainty and controversy and addressess possible fulture directions of research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-82
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2001
Externally publishedYes


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