Patterns of coral ecological immunology: variation in the responses of Caribbean corals to elevated temperature and a pathogen elicitor

Palmer, Caroline V., McGinty, Elizabeth S., Cummings, David J., Smith, Stephanie M., Bartels, Erich, and Mydlarz, Laura D. (2011) Patterns of coral ecological immunology: variation in the responses of Caribbean corals to elevated temperature and a pathogen elicitor. Journal of Experimental Biology, 214 (24). pp. 4240-4249.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


Disease epizootics are increasing with climatic shifts, yet within each system only a subset of species are identified as the most vulnerable. Understanding ecological immunology patterns as well as environmental influences on immune defenses will provide insight into the persistence of a functional system through adverse conditions. Amongst the most threatened ecosystems are coral reefs, with coral disease epizootics and thermal stress jeopardizing their survival. Immune defenses were investigated within three Caribbean corals, Montastraea faveolata, Stephanocoenia intersepta and Porites astreoides, which represent a range of disease and bleaching susceptibilities. Levels of several immune parameters were measured in response to elevated water temperature and the presence of a commercial pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) – lipopolysaccharide (LPS) – as an elicitor of the innate immune response. Immune parameters included prophenoloxidase (PPO) activity, melanin concentration, bactericidal activity, the antioxidants peroxidase and catalase, and fluorescent protein (FP) concentration. LPS induced an immune response in all three corals, although each species responded differently to the experimental treatments. For example, M. faveolata, a disease-susceptible species, experienced significant decreases in bactericidal activity and melanin concentration after exposure to LPS and elevated temperature alone. Porites astreoides, a disease-resistant species, showed increased levels of enzymatic antioxidants upon exposure to LPS independently and increased PPO activity in response to the combination of LPS and elevated water temperature. This study demonstrates the ability of reef-building corals to induce immune responses in the presence of PAMPs, indicating activation of PAMP receptors and the transduction of appropriate signals leading to immune effector responses. Furthermore, these data address the emerging field of ecological immunology by highlighting interspecific differences in immunity and immunocompetences among Caribbean corals, which are reflected in their life-history characteristics, disease susceptibilities and bleaching-induced mortality.

Item ID: 20268
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1477-9145
Keywords: Montastraea faveolata, Stephanocoenia intersepta, Porites astreoides, innate immunity, coral, disease resistance, prophenoloxidase, lipopolysaccaride, temperature stress
Date Deposited: 29 Feb 2012 05:07
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 1
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page