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Nutritional exchange in a tropical tripartite symbiosis: direct evidence for the transfer of nutrients from anemonefish to host anemone and zooxanthellae
Cleveland, A.; Verde, E.A.; Lee, R.W. (2011). Nutritional exchange in a tropical tripartite symbiosis: direct evidence for the transfer of nutrients from anemonefish to host anemone and zooxanthellae. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 158(3): 589-602. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-010-1583-5
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Cleveland, A.
  • Verde, E.A.
  • Lee, R.W.

Abstract
    The relationship between anemones and anemonefishes is an oft-cited and endearing example of a mutualistic symbiosis. Current research on mutualistic symbioses suggests these relationships are more commonplace and have greater importance at the ecosystem level on nutrient dynamics and evolutionary processes than previously thought. Using stable isotopes 15N and 13C, both field and laboratory experiments were designed to investigate whether nutrient transfer from two species of resident anemonefishes (Amphiprion perideraion and A. clarkii) to host anemones (Heteractis crispa) occurs. Mass spectroscopy indicated that both 15N and 13C were significantly elevated in the tissues of anemonefishes and in both host anemone and zooxanthellae fractions. These experiments provide the first direct empirical evidence of nitrogen and carbon transfer from resident anemonefishes to host anemones and endosymbiotic zooxanthellae. Such transfer of elements within this intriguing tripartite association underscores the central role that nutrient dynamics contributes to the evolutionary processes of these marine symbioses.

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