Expulsion symbiotic algae during feeding by the green hydra - A mechanism for regulating symbiont density?

Yelena Fishman, Eliahu Zlotkin, Daniel Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Algal-cnidarian symbiosis is.one of the main factors contributing to the success of cnidarians, and is crucial for the maintenance of coral reefs. While loss of the symbionts, (such as in coral bleaching) may cause the death of the cnidarian host, over-proliferation of the algae may also harm the host.Thus, there is a need for the host to regulate the population density of its symbionts. In the green hydra, Chlorohydra viridissima, the density of symbiotic algae may be controlled through host modulation of the algal ceell cycle. Alternatively, Chlorohydra may actively expel their endosymbionts, although this phenomenon has only been observed under experimentally contrived stress conditions. Principal Findings: We show, using light and electron microscopy, that Chlorohydra actively expel endosymbiotic algal cells during predatory feeding on Artemla. This explusion occurs as part of the apocrine mode of secretion from the endodermal digestive cells, but may also occur via an independent exocytotic mechanism. Significance: Our results demonstrate, for the first time, active expulsion of endosymbiotic algae from cnidarians under natural conditions. We suggest this phenomenon may represent a mechanism whereby cnidarians can expel excess symbiotic algae when an alternative form of nutrition is available in the form of prey.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2603
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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