Levels of immunity parameters underpin bleaching and disease susceptibility of reef corals

Palmer, Caroline V., Bythell, John C., and Willis, Bette L. (2010) Levels of immunity parameters underpin bleaching and disease susceptibility of reef corals. FASEB Journal, 24 (6). pp. 1935-1946.

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Immunity is a key life history trait that may explain hierarchies in the susceptibility of corals to disease and thermal bleaching, two of the greatest current threats to coral health and the persistence of tropical reefs. Despite their ongoing and rapid global decline, there have been few investigations into the immunity mechanisms of reef-building corals. Variables commonly associated with invertebrate immunity, including the presence of melanin, size of melanin-containing granular cells, and phenoloxidase (PO) activity, as well as concentrations of fluorescent proteins (FPs), were investigated in hard (Scleractinia) and soft (Alcyonacea) corals spanning 10 families from the Great Barrier Reef. Detectable levels of these indicators were present in all corals investigated, although relative investment differed among coral taxa. Overall levels of investment were inversely correlated to thermal bleaching and disease susceptibility. In addition, PO activity, melanin-containing granular cell size, and FP concentration were each found to be significant predictors of susceptibility and thus may play key roles in coral immunity. Correlative evidence that taxonomic (family-level) variation in the levels of these constituent immunity parameters underpins susceptibility to both thermal bleaching and disease indicates that baseline immunity underlies the vulnerability of corals to these two threats. This reinforces the necessity of a holistic approach to understanding bleaching and disease in order to accurately determine the resilience of coral reefs.

Item ID: 15833
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1530-6860
Keywords: melanin, phenoloxidase, fluorescent protein, climate change, reef resilience
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2011 00:37
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060804 Animal Immunology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 80%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960407 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Marine Environments @ 20%
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