Heat-evolved microalgal symbionts increase thermal bleaching tolerance of coral juveniles without a trade-off against growth

Quigley, Kate M., Alvarez-Roa, Carlos, Raina, Jean Baptiste, Pernice, Mathieu, and van Oppen, Madeleine J.H. (2023) Heat-evolved microalgal symbionts increase thermal bleaching tolerance of coral juveniles without a trade-off against growth. Coral Reefs, 42. pp. 1227-1232.

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Global climate change is threatening the persistence of coral reefs as associated summer heatwaves trigger the loss of microalgal endosymbionts (Symbiodiniaceae) from the coral tissues, or coral bleaching. We infected aposymbiotic juveniles of the coral Acropora tenuis with either wildtype (WT10) or heat-evolved (SS1 or SS8) Symbiodiniaceae strains Cladocopium proliferum (formerly referred to as Cladocopium goreaui and Cladocopium C1acro). After 10 months at 27 °C, SS8-juveniles were 2 × larger than SS1- or WT10-juveniles. In response to a simulated heatwave (31 °C for 41 days), the WT10-juveniles bleached and showed a decline in respiration while cell densities and respiration in both SS-juvenile groups remained unchanged compared to the controls. These results reveal that some heat-evolved strains can increase the bleaching tolerance of juvenile corals without a trade-off against growth. This response is opposite to the lower nutrient provisioning often reported for naturally thermotolerant Symbiodiniaceae (e.g. genus Durusdinium), thereby offering enhanced fitness to the host without the ecological consequences of diminished growth.

Item ID: 80922
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: Assisted evolution, Carbon assimilation, Coral reefs, Experimental evolution, Restoration, Symbiosis
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2023. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Laureate Fellowship FL180100036, ARC DECRA Fellowship DE230100284
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2024 02:46
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3107 Microbiology > 310703 Microbial ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 100%
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