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Symbiotic green algae in eggs of Hynobius nigrescens, an amphibian endemic to Japan

Muto, Kiyoaki, Nishikawa, Kanto, Kamikawa, Ryoma, Miyashita, Hideaki
Phycological research 2017 v.65 no.2 pp. 171-174
Hynobius, Oophila, algae, amphibians, cell walls, color, eggs, hatching, microscopy, nucleotide sequences, phylogeny, ribosomal RNA, symbionts, symbiosis, Japan, North America
The egg capsules of some amphibians' eggs are known to become green colored before hatching. This is due to the increase of green symbionts in the egg capsule surrounding the embryo. The green symbionts in North American amphibian eggs were reported to be unicellular green algae in the Oophila‐clade of Volvocales, Chlorophyceae. However, it remains unclear whether this is also the case in other parts of the world. In this study, we analyzed the green symbionts in green‐colored eggs of Hynobius nigrescens, an amphibian endemic to Japan, obtained from five distinct locations. Microscopic observations revealed that the green symbionts were similar in appearance to Oophila amblystomatis, which was reported in some amphibian eggs in North America, in which non‐motile cells of the algae had thick cell walls with reticulate protuberances. PCR‐DGGE followed by phylogenetic analyses of partial 18S rRNA sequences revealed that the symbionts from the five locations were identical and most likely unialgal in each egg capsule. They formed an independent subclade within the Oophila‐clade, indicating that H. nigrescens has a unique symbiont. Our data are consistent with the previous report on North American amphibian eggs and support the specific symbiotic relationships between Oophila‐clade symbionts and the eggs of amphibians. This is the first report on the specific symbiont‐and‐host association between an Oophila‐clade symbiont and an amphibian outside of North America. We also discuss several possibilities regarding the origin of green symbionts (vertical transmission or invasion) on the basis of the discovery and detailed observation of H. nigrescens eggs without any green symbionts.