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Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Aug;147(4):583-9. Epub 2007 Mar 3.

Acclimation effect on fatty acids of the coral Montipora digitata and its symbiotic algae.

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Institute of Biology and Soil Sciences, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 159, Prospect 100-Letiya, Vladivostok, 690041, Russia.


Lipids play a key role in thermal and photo-acclimation processes, yet they are often neglected in stress studies. We investigated the influence of different light intensities and an increase of temperature on the fatty acid composition of the coral Montipora digitata and its symbiotic algae (i.e., zooxanthellae). Coral branches were subjected to 3 different light intensities (7, 30 and 95% sea surface photosynthetic active radiation) in filtered seawater for 35 days. Fatty acids as methyl esters were determined using gas chromatography (GC) and verified by GC-mass spectrometry. Different light intensities, but only in combination with increased temperature, significantly affected the fatty acid composition of the coral host and zooxanthellae. Temperature and light intensity increases caused reductions in the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids in both the host and symbionts. Most changes occurred in the host coral, which suggests that the host is more susceptible to environmental change than the symbiont, or that the host shields the symbionts from environmental change.

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