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PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30167. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030167. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

Effects of light, food availability and temperature stress on the function of photosystem II and photosystem I of coral symbionts.

Author information

1
Ecophysiology and Ecology Research Team, Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Monaco, Monaco. mia.hoogenboom1@jcu.edu.au

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Reef corals are heterotrophic coelenterates that achieve high productivity through their photosynthetic dinoflagellate symbionts. Excessive seawater temperature destabilises this symbiosis and causes corals to "bleach," lowering their photosynthetic capacity. Bleaching poses a serious threat to the persistence of coral reefs on a global scale. Despite expanding research on the causes of bleaching, the mechanisms remain a subject of debate.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

This study determined how light and food availability modulate the effects of temperature stress on photosynthesis in two reef coral species. We quantified the activities of Photosystem II, Photosystem I and whole chain electron transport under combinations of normal and stressful growth temperatures, moderate and high light levels and the presence or absence of feeding of the coral hosts. Our results show that PS1 function is comparatively robust against temperature stress in both species, whereas PS2 and whole chain electron transport are susceptible to temperature stress. In the symbiotic dinoflagellates of Stylophora pistillata the contents of chlorophyll and major photosynthetic complexes were primarily affected by food availability. In Turbinaria reniformis growth temperature was the dominant influence on the contents of the photosynthetic complexes. In both species feeding the host significantly protected photosynthetic function from high temperature stress.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

Our findings support the photoinhibition model of coral bleaching and demonstrate that PS1 is not a major site for thermal damage during bleaching events. Feeding mitigates bleaching in two scleractinian corals, so that reef responses to temperature stresses will likely be influenced by the coinciding availabilities of prey for the host.

PMID:
22253915
PMCID:
PMC3258252
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0030167
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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