Early cellular changes are indicators of pre-bleaching thermal stress in the coral host

Ainsworth, T.D., Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Heron, S.F., Skirving, W.J., and Leggat, W. (2008) Early cellular changes are indicators of pre-bleaching thermal stress in the coral host. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 364 (2). pp. 63-71.

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Abstract

Thermal stress causes the coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis to disassociate and the coral tissues to whiten. The onset and occurrence of this coral bleaching is primarily defined via the dinoflagellate responses. Here we demonstrate that thermal stress responses occur in the coral host tissues in the days before the onset of coral bleaching. The observed sequence of thermal responses includes reductions in thickness of coral tissue layers and apoptosis of the cells prior to reductions in symbiont density. In the days before the onset of coral bleaching the outer coral tissue layer (epithelium) thickness reduces and apoptosis occurs within the gastrodermis. Two days following this, coinciding with an initial reduction of symbiont density (by approximately 25%), gastrodermal thickness decreased and apoptosis of host cells was identified in the epithelium. This was eventually followed by large reduction in symbiont density (by approximately 50%) consistent with coral bleaching. Both pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic genes are identified in the reef building coral Acropora aspera, demonstrating the necessary pathways are present for fine control of host apoptosis. Our study shows that defining periods of host stress based on the responses defined by dinoflagellate symbiont underestimates the importance of early cellular events and the cellular complexity of coral host.

Item ID: 6576
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: coral bleaching; cell biology; stress response
ISSN: 0022-0981
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2010 23:50
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0601 Biochemistry and Cell Biology > 060199 Biochemistry and Cell Biology not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 31
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