Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science

Degree Name

Marine Science

First Advisor

Joana Figueiredo, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

John E. Parkinson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jose V. Lopez, Ph.D.


symbiosis, larval recruitment, coral grow-out, reef restoration


Symbiosis between corals and Symbiodiniaceae is critical to coral reef health. However, this mutually beneficial relationship is threatened by a variety of stressors. This study aims to assess if seeding newly settled corals with different species of Symbiodiniaceae promotes differences in survival, growth, and symbiont acquisition in corals. Three reef-building species (Colpophyllia natans, Orbicella faveolata, and Pseudodiploria strigosa) reared in sterile saltwater baths were seeded with one of four Symbiodiniaceae species (Breviolum minutum, Durusdinium trenchii, Fugacium kawagutii, and Symbiodinium microadriaticum). Coral survival, growth, and symbiont acquisition were assessed biweekly during the first two months and monthly thereafter for an additional six months via microscopy and photography. PCR examined sample purity and Symbiodiniaceae community composition. Survival of coral recruits was higher when seeded with Breviolum minutum compared to Fugacium kawagutii, and Orbicella faveolata recruits displayed higher survival compared to Colpophyllia natans. Pseudodiploria strigosa had faster growth than Colpophyllia natans for all Symbiodiniaceae pairings, and Orbicella faveolata had a faster growth rate than Colpophyllia natans when seeded with the same Symbiodiniaceae. Orbicella faveolata seeded with Durusdinium trenchii had significantly higher acquisition when compared with all other coral-Symbiodiniaceae pairings except Colpophyllia natans seeded with Durusdinium trenchii. Similar growth and symbiont acquisition trends occurred across coral-Symbiodiniaceae pairings with increases during the first 8 weeks, reduction in size and pigmentation between weeks 8 and 20, and increases throughout the remainder of the experiment. These findings aim to improve the productivity and success of coral grow-out ex situ for reef restoration.