Molecular phylogeny of symbiotic dinoflagellates from planktonic foraminifera and radiolaria. Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent analyses of the small subunit ribosomal DNA (srDNA) from dinoflagellate symbionts of cnidaria have confirmed historical descriptions of a diverse but well-defined clade, Symbiodinium, as well as several other independent symbiont lineages (Rowan 1991; Rowan and Powers 1992; Sadler et al. 1992; McNally et al 1994). Dinoflagellates also occur as intracellular symbionts in a number of pelagic protistan taxa, but the srDNA of these symbionts has not been examined. We analyzed the srDNA sequences of the symbiotic dinoflagellates from four planktonic foraminiferal species and six radiolarian species. The symbionts from these sarcodines formed two distinct lineages within the dinoflagellates. Within each lineage, symbionts obtained from different host species showed few, if any, srDNA sequence differences. The planktonic foraminiferal symbionts were most closely related to Gymnodinium simplex and the Symbiodinium clade, whereas the radiolarian symbionts were most closely related to the dinoflagellate symbiont from the oceanic chondrophore, Velella velella. Therefore, although the dinoflagellate symbionts of foraminifera appear to be a sister taxon of the symbionts from benthic foraminifera and invertebrates, the symbionts of radiolaria are distinct and arose from an independent lineage of dinoflagellate symbionts that shares common ancestry with the symbiont of at least one pelagic metazoan. The lack of srDNA variability within the sarcodine symbiont lineages suggests that coevolution of host and symbiont has not occurred.

publication date

  • November 1996