The symbiosis between scleractinian corals and photosynthetic algae from the family Symbiodiniaceae underpins the health and productivity of tropical coral reef ecosystems. While this photosymbiotic association has been extensively studied in shallow waters (<30 m depth), we do not know how deeper corals, inhabiting large and vastly underexplored mesophotic coral ecosystems, modulate their symbiotic associations to grow in environments that receive less than 1% of surface irradiance. Here we report on the deepest photosymbiotic scleractinian corals collected to date (172 m depth), and use amplicon sequencing to identify the associated symbiotic communities. The corals, identified as Leptoseris hawaiiensis, were confirmed to host Symbiodiniaceae, predominantly of the genus Cladocopium, a single species of endolithic algae from the genus Ostreobium, and diverse communities of prokaryotes. Our results expand the reported depth range of photosynthetic scleractinian corals (0–172 m depth), and provide new insights on their symbiotic associations at the lower depth extremes of tropical coral reefs.
Scleractinia (Hard Corals)