DMSP biosynthesis by an animal and its role in coral thermal stress response

Raina, Jean-Baptiste, Tapiolas, Dianne M., Foret, Sylvain, Lutz, Adrian, Abrego, David, Ceh, Janja, Seneca, Francois O., Clode, Peta L., Bourne, David G., Willis, Bette L., and Motti, Cherie A. (2013) DMSP biosynthesis by an animal and its role in coral thermal stress response. Nature, 502 (7473). pp. 677-691.

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Abstract

Globally, reef-building corals are the most prolific producers of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP)1, 2, a central molecule in the marine sulphur cycle and precursor of the climate-active gas dimethylsulphide3, 4. At present, DMSP production by corals is attributed entirely to their algal endosymbiont, Symbiodinium2. Combining chemical, genomic and molecular approaches, we show that coral juveniles produce DMSP in the absence of algal symbionts. DMSP levels increased up to 54% over time in newly settled coral juveniles lacking algal endosymbionts, and further increases, up to 76%, were recorded when juveniles were subjected to thermal stress. We uncovered coral orthologues of two algal genes recently identified in DMSP biosynthesis, strongly indicating that corals possess the enzymatic machinery necessary for DMSP production. Our results overturn the paradigm that photosynthetic organisms are the sole biological source of DMSP, and highlight the double jeopardy represented by worldwide declining coral cover, as the potential to alleviate thermal stress through coral-produced DMSP declines correspondingly.

Item ID: 30543
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1476-4687
Keywords: climate-change ecology, secondary metabolism, atmospheric chemistry
Funders: AMMRF Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis (University of Western Australia), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2013 05:26
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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