Can resistant coral-Symbiodinium associations enable coral communities to survive climate change? A study of a site exposed to long-termhot water input

Keshavmurthy, Shashank, Meng, Pei-Jie, Wang, Jih-Terng, Kuo, Chao-Yang, Yang, Sung-Yin, Hsu, Chia-Min, Gan, Chai-Hsia, Dai, Chang-Feng, and Chen, Chaolun Allen (2014) Can resistant coral-Symbiodinium associations enable coral communities to survive climate change? A study of a site exposed to long-termhot water input. PeerJ, 2. e327. pp. 1-28.

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Climate change has led to a decline in the health of corals and coral reefs around the world. Studies have shown that, while some corals can cope with natural and anthropogenic stressors either through resistance mechanisms of coral hosts or through sustainable relationships with Symbiodinium clades or types, many coral species cannot. Here, we show that the corals present in a reef in southern Taiwan, and exposed to long-term elevated seawater temperatures due to the presence of a nuclear power plant outlet (NPP OL), are unique in terms of species and associated Symbiodinium types. At shallow depths (<3 m), eleven coral genera elsewhere in Kenting predominantly found with Symbiodinium types C1 and C3 (stress sensitive) were instead hosting Symbiodinium type D1a (stress tolerant) or a mixture of Symbiodinium type C1/C3/C21a/C15 and Symbiodinium type D1a. Of the 16 coral genera that dominate the local reefs, two that are apparently unable to associate with Symbiodinium type D1a are not present at NPP OL at depths of <3 m. Two other genera present at NPP OL and other locations host a specific type of Symbiodinium type C15. These data imply that coral assemblages may have the capacity to maintain their presence at the generic level against long-term disturbances such as elevated seawater temperatures by acclimatization through successful association with a stress-tolerant Symbiodinium over time. However, at the community level it comes at the cost of some coral genera being lost, suggesting that species unable to associate with a stress-tolerant Symbiodinium are likely to become extinct locally and unfavorable shifts in coral communities are likely to occur under the impact of climate change.

Item ID: 37913
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2167-8359
Keywords: climate change, coral reefs, acclimatization, nuclear power plant, Symbiodinium type D1a
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© 2014 Keshavmurthy et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: Academia Sinica (AS), National Science Council (NSC), Kenting National Park (KNP)
Projects and Grants: AS-97-TP-B01, NSC 98-2321-B001-024-MY3, KNP 488-100-01
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2015 16:41
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 > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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