, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 303–311 | Cite as

Megaviridae-like particles associated with Symbiodinium spp. from the endemic coral Mussismilia braziliensis

  • Luiz Felipe Benites
  • Arthur Weiss Silva-Lima
  • Inácio Domingos da Silva-Neto
  • Paulo Sergio SalomonEmail author


Coral reefs are one of the most dynamic and productive marine ecosystems. The coral holobiont consists of the coral animal and a variety of associated microorganisms that include symbiotic dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium, bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses. The interactions among these components are crucial for coral health and, consequently, to the coral reef resilience to disturbance. Environmental stressors such as elevated temperature, high irradiance and ultraviolet (UV) radiation can lead to the breakdown of the coral-Symbiodinium symbiosis in a phenomenon known as “coral bleaching”. The present study provides evidence for virus-like particles (VLPs) induced in UV-irradiated Symbiodinium spp. cultures (clades A and C) that were isolated from the coral Mussismilia braziliensis, suggesting a latent viral infection in these strains. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy images of the UV stressed cultures revealed the presence of giant (ca. 450 nm) and small (ca. 40 nm) VLPs. Morphological features link the giant VLPs to the family Megaviridae. Symbiodinium spp. Megaviridae giant viruses and other associated viruses may represent dynamic forces driving and influencing health of the coral holobiont.


Symbiodinium giant virus Megaviridae Abrolhos coral virus symbiosis 



We are thankful to Dr. Paulo Iiboshi Hargreaves and Dr. Glaucia Ank for their assistance with Symbiodinium spp. cultures. We greatly appreciate the helpful discussion, corrections and insightful comments provided by Lilian Caesar, Sheree Yau and two anonymous referees. This work was made possible by grants from the Brazilian Research Councils Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq, grants 305347/2016-0 and 407297/2013-8 to PSS), and Rio de Janeiro State Research Council Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia Marinha, Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro – UFRJRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade e Biologia EvolutivaUFRJRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Zoologia, Instituto de BiologiaUFRJRio de JaneiroBrazil

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