Viruses and Symbiosis

Symbiodinium algae are vital to health of hermatic corals on reefs across the world. Loss of these symbionts is implicated in coral demise and extinction. We recently published a manuscript (Correa et al. 2013) that describes the use of our novel methods to isolate and extract RNA from the viral consortia associated with corals. This new published method allowed us to ask two essential questions about the viruses of corals simultaneously. Specifically, we could now address if there are RNA viruses in corals and also which DNA viruses were transcribing gene products (a sign of active infection). Such data greatly improve our understanding about the diversity and activity of viruses in corals and identified two new groups of viruses that we suspect are infecting corals and their symbionts, the algae Symbiodinium.