|Title||A basidiomycete isolated from the skeleton of Pocillopora damicornis (Scleractinia) selectively stimulates short-term survival of coral skeletogenic cells|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2004|
|Authors||Domart-Coulon, I, Sinclair, CS, Hill, RT, Tambutte, S, Puverel, S, Ostrander, GK|
Endolithic fungi bore through the extracellular calcium carbonate skeleton of reef-building scleractinian corals, both healthy and dead, and effect net erosion of coral reefs. Potential fungal interactions with coral tissue were investigated using an in vitro approach suggested by earlier observations of skeletal repair cones at the site of fungal perforation in Porites sp. A fungal strain was isolated from the skeleton of a long-term culture of healthy, tissue-covered, Pocillopora damicornis Linnaeus colonies maintained in a recirculating system in Monaco. As coral soft tissue spontaneously dissociated in vitro, the skeleton became exposed and hyaline hyphae emerged radially from 15% of the total clipped branches. In this study, which was performed between January 2001 and March 2003, 35 skeleton-hypha explants were embedded in agar-based solid medium, yielding 60% hyphal growth. A fungal strain (F19-3-1) of the dominant (80%) morphology was isolated and propagated in agar-based solid medium. The strain was identified by 18S and 26S rDNA gene sequence analysis as a basidiomycete in the genus Cryptococcus. Cocultures were used to provide experimental exposure of coral soft tissue to the fungus. The fungus extended the survival of coral cells by 2 days, selectively maintaining skeletogenic cell types. This effect may be interpreted as stimulation by the fungus of a short-term coral defense response.