Evidence of an inflammatory-like response in non-normally pigmented tissues of two scleractinian corals

Palmer, Caroline V., Mydlarz, Laura D., and Willis, Bette L. (2008) Evidence of an inflammatory-like response in non-normally pigmented tissues of two scleractinian corals. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 275 (1652). pp. 2687-2693.

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Increasing evidence of links between climate change, anthropogenic stress and coral disease underscores the importance of understanding the mechanisms by which reef-building corals resist infection and recover from injury. Cellular inflammation and melanin-producing signalling pathway are two mechanisms employed by invertebrates to remove foreign organisms such as pathogens, but they have not been recorded previously in scleractinian corals. This study demonstrates the presence of the phenoloxidase (PO) activating melanin pathway in two species of coral, Acropora millepora and a massive species of Porites, which both develop local pigmentation in response to interactions with a variety of organisms. l-DOPA (3-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-l-alanine) substrate-based enzyme activation assays demonstrated PO activity in healthy tissues of both species and upregulation in pigmented tissues of A. millepora. Histological staining conclusively identified the presence of melanin in Porites tissues. These results demonstrate that the PO pathway is active in both coral species. Moreover, the upregulation of PO activity in areas of non-normal pigmentation in A. millepora and increased melanin production in pigmented Porites tissues suggest the presence of a generalized defence response to localized stress. Interspecific differences in the usage of pathways involved in innate immunity may underlie the comparative success of massive Porites sp. as long-lived stress tolerators.

Item ID: 7062
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2954
Keywords: Scleractinian corals; melanin; innate immunity; phenoloxidase; amoebocyte; OIRS; marine sciences
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2010 06:37
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%
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