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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 303:105-111 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps303105

Diterpene biosynthesis by the dinoflagellate symbiont of the Caribbean gorgonian Pseudopterogorgia bipinnata

Jennifer M. Boehnlein, Lory Z. Santiago-Vázquez, Russell G. Kerr*

Center of Excellence in Biomedical and Marine Biotechnology, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, Florida 33431, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Chemical analysis of the dinoflagellate symbiont of Pseudopterogorgia bipinnata (Verrill) revealed higher concentrations of kallolides and related diterpenes than are present in the intact holobiont. Further, biosynthetic studies of the dinoflagellate with 3H-labeled geranylgeranyl diphosphate indicated that this alga is capable of kallolide biosynthesis. These data indicate that the symbiotic zooxanthellae of P. bipinnata, as we have previously shown with P. elisabethae, are capable of biosynthesizing diterpenes previously ascribed solely to the host coral. Analyses of P. bipinnata colonies indicate significant chemical variation within this species, and 4 distinct chemotypes have been identified. Of these, only Chemotype A was found to both contain diterpenes and be capable of diterpene biosynthesis. We analyzed small subunit rDNA restriction fragment length polymorphism patterns and internal transcribed spacer sequences of the zooxanthellae associated with the 4 chemotypes for genetic differences that could explain the chemical differences. Both studies determined that all chemotypes are predominantly populated by the symbiont Symbiodinium sp. Clade B.

KEY WORDS: Zooxanthellae · Terpene · Kallolide · Symbiodinium sp. · Restriction fragment length polymorphism · Natural product · Biosynthesis

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