Background: All organisms employ biological clocks to anticipate physical changes in the environment; however, the integration of biological clocks in symbiotic systems has received limited attention. In corals, the interpretation of rhythmic behaviours is complicated by the daily oscillations in tissue oxygen tension resulting from the photosynthetic and respiratory activities of the associated algal endosymbiont Symbiodinium. In order to better understand the integration of biological clocks in cnidarian hosts of Symbiodinium, daily rhythms of behaviour and gene expression were studied in symbiotic and aposymbiotic morphs of the sea-anemone Aiptasia diaphana. Results: The results showed that whereas circatidal (approx. 12-h) cycles of activity and gene expression predominated in aposymbiotic morphs, circadian (approx. 24-h) patterns were the more common in symbiotic morphs, where the expression of a significant number of genes shifted from a 12- to 24-h rhythm. The behavioural experiments on symbiotic A. diaphana displayed diel (24-h) rhythmicity in body and tentacle contraction under the light/dark cycles, whereas aposymbiotic morphs showed approximately 12-h (circatidal) rhythmicity. Reinfection experiments represent an important step in understanding the hierarchy of endogenous clocks in symbiotic associations, where the aposymbiotic Aiptasia morphs returned to a 24-h behavioural rhythm after repopulation with algae. Conclusion: Whilst some modification of host metabolism is to be expected, the extent to which the presence of the algae modified host endogenous behavioural and transcriptional rhythms implies that it is the symbionts that influence the pace. Our results clearly demonstrate the importance of the endosymbiotic algae in determining the timing and the duration of the extension and contraction of the body and tentacles and temporal gene expression.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).
- Biological clocks
- Gene expression
- Sea anemone Aiptasia diaphana
- Symbiotic and aposymbiotic