The symbiotic association between corals and photosynthetic unicellular algae is of great importance in coral reef ecosystems. The study of symbiotic relationships is multidisciplinary and involves research in phylogeny, physiology, biochemistry, and ecology. An intriguing phase in each symbiotic relationship is its initiation, in which the partners interact for the first time. The examination of this phase in coral-algae symbiosis from a molecular point of view is still at an early stage. In the present study we used 2-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to compare patterns of proteins synthesized in symbiotic and aposymbiotic primary polyps of the Red Sea soft coral Heteroxenia fuscescens. This is the first work to search for symbiosis-specific proteins during the natural onset of symbiosis in early host ontogeny. The protein profiles reveal changes in the host soft coral proteome through development, but surprisingly virtually no changes in the host proteome as a function of symbiotic state.
- Soft corals
- Symbiosis-related proteins