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Symbiodinium thermophilum symbionts in Porites harrisoni and Cyphastrea microphthalma in the northern Persian Gulf, Iran

  • Tooba Varasteh (a1), Mohammad Reza Shokri (a1), Hassan Rajabi-Maham (a1), Safoura Behzadi (a1) and Benjamin C. C. Hume (a2)...

Coral communities of the Persian Gulf (PG) withstand maximum and annual ranges of water temperatures that surpass those found on the majority of reefs elsewhere. As such, these communities may inform on how coral reefs might adapt to the warmer waters of the future. Depending on the algal symbiont (genus Symbiodinium) harboured, advantages in stress tolerance may be conferred to the coral holobiont. Characterizing the algal component is therefore critical in determining the coral holobiont's tolerance phenotype. Coral associations off the Arabian coastline of the PG have been characterized as biogeographically unique, containing a rare group of taxonomically ancestral and thermotolerant algal symbionts, the Symbiodinium thermophilum group. In contrast, waters off the Iranian coast remain poorly characterized with a notable lack of S. thermophilum group symbionts identified in coral associations to date. Here, we characterize the algal component of two reef building corals (Porites harrisoni and Cyphastrea microphthalma) predominant at three sites spanning almost the entire length of the PG's Iranian coast. Genotyping using the chloroplastic 23S and nuclear ITS2 genes, we demonstrate the presence of S. thermophilum group symbionts. We discuss the probable physical drivers of these associations and highlight the need for further research in these relatively understudied waters.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: M. R. Shokri and H. Rajabi-Maham, Faculty of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shahid Beheshti University, G.C., Evin, Tehran, 1983963113, IR Iran email: and
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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
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