The green filamentous endolithic alga Ostreobium quekettii resides inside skeletons of scleractinian corals in close proximity with their tissue and plays a role in the viability of the coral and its associates. This study examined the distribution and diversity of O. quekettii within scleractinian corals from the Red Sea (Eilat, Gulf of Aqaba), using a molecular phylogenetic marker. The massive coral species Porites lutea and Goniastrea perisi were sampled from a depth range of 6–55 m, and ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase large subunit gene (rbcL) DNA sequence of the alga was amplified and analyzed for diversity and distribution of ecological patterns. This work reveals that O. quekettii has at least seven different clades distributed along a depth gradient in the examined scleractinian corals. Among the seven identified clades, four were found only in P. lutea, while the other two clades are found in both P. lutea and G. perisi. Goniastrea perisi colonies at depth of 30 m had a distinct O. quekettii clade that was absent in P. lutea. It is obvious from this study that the green endolithic alga O. quekettii is not a single genotype as previously considered but a complex of genotypes and that this differentiation is of ecological significance.
Israel - Red Sea
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)