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A Rhesus channel in the coral symbiosome membrane suggests a novel mechanism to regulate NH3 and CO2 delivery to algal symbionts.

  • Author(s): Thies, Angus B;
  • Quijada-Rodriguez, Alex R;
  • Zhouyao, Haonan;
  • Weihrauch, Dirk;
  • Tresguerres, Martin
  • et al.

Reef-building corals maintain an intracellular photosymbiotic association with dinoflagellate algae. As the algae are hosted inside the symbiosome, all metabolic exchanges must take place across the symbiosome membrane. Using functional studies in Xenopus oocytes, immunolocalization, and confocal Airyscan microscopy, we established that Acropora yongei Rh (ayRhp1) facilitates transmembrane NH3 and CO2 diffusion and that it is present in the symbiosome membrane. Furthermore, ayRhp1 abundance in the symbiosome membrane was highest around midday and lowest around midnight. We conclude that ayRhp1 mediates a symbiosomal NH4+-trapping mechanism that promotes nitrogen delivery to algae during the day-necessary to sustain photosynthesis-and restricts nitrogen delivery at night-to keep algae under nitrogen limitation. The role of ayRhp1-facilitated CO2 diffusion is less clear, but it may have implications for metabolic dysregulation between symbiotic partners and bleaching. This previously unknown mechanism expands our understanding of symbioses at the immediate animal-microbe interface, the symbiosome.

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