WorldWideScience

Sample records for building coral acropora

  1. Species profiles: Life histories and environmental requirements of coastal fishes and invertebrates (south Florida): Reef-building corals. [Acropora cervicornis; Acropora palmata; Montastraea annularis; Montastraea cavernosa

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Porter, J.W.

    1987-08-01

    Four species of reef-building corals are considered: elkhorn coral, staghorn coral, common star coral, and large star coral. All four species spawn annually in the fall during hurricane season. Juvenile recruitment is low in all four species. Rapid growth rates of species in the genus Acropora (10 to 20 cm/yr) contrast with slower growth rates of species in the genus Montastraea (1.0 to 2.0 cm/yr), but both species of Montastraea are also important in reef development due to their form and great longevity. Shallow-water colonies of Montastraea survive hurricanes; shallow colonies of Acropora do not. Because of their dependence on photosynthesis for all of their carbon acquisition, the Acropora species reviewed here have a more restricted depth distribution (0 to 30 m) than do the Montastraea species considered (0 to 70 m). All four species are subject to intense predation by the snail predator, Coralliophila. Species of Montastraea are susceptible to infection from blue-green algae, which produce ''black band disease;'' species of Acropora are susceptible to a different, as yet unidentified pathogen, that produces ''white-band'' disease. Increased water turbidity and sedimentation cause reduced growth rates and partial or whole mortality in all four species.

  2. High natural gene expression variation in the reef-building coral Acropora millepora: potential for acclimative and adaptive plasticity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Granados-Cifuentes, Camila; Bellantuono, Anthony J; Ridgway, Tyrone; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove; Rodriguez-Lanetty, Mauricio

    2013-04-08

    Ecosystems worldwide are suffering the consequences of anthropogenic impact. The diverse ecosystem of coral reefs, for example, are globally threatened by increases in sea surface temperatures due to global warming. Studies to date have focused on determining genetic diversity, the sequence variability of genes in a species, as a proxy to estimate and predict the potential adaptive response of coral populations to environmental changes linked to climate changes. However, the examination of natural gene expression variation has received less attention. This variation has been implicated as an important factor in evolutionary processes, upon which natural selection can act. We acclimatized coral nubbins from six colonies of the reef-building coral Acropora millepora to a common garden in Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef, GBR) for a period of four weeks to remove any site-specific environmental effects on the physiology of the coral nubbins. By using a cDNA microarray platform, we detected a high level of gene expression variation, with 17% (488) of the unigenes differentially expressed across coral nubbins of the six colonies (jsFDR-corrected, p natural variation between reef corals when assessing experimental gene expression differences. The high transcriptional variation detected in this study is interpreted and discussed within the context of adaptive potential and phenotypic plasticity of reef corals. Whether this variation will allow coral reefs to survive to current challenges remains unknown.

  3. Spatial Homogeneity of Bacterial Communities Associated with the Surface Mucus Layer of the Reef-Building Coral Acropora palmata.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Dustin W Kemp

    Full Text Available Coral surface mucus layer (SML microbiota are critical components of the coral holobiont and play important roles in nutrient cycling and defense against pathogens. We sequenced 16S rRNA amplicons to examine the structure of the SML microbiome within and between colonies of the threatened Caribbean reef-building coral Acropora palmata in the Florida Keys. Samples were taken from three spatially distinct colony regions--uppermost (high irradiance, underside (low irradiance, and the colony base--representing microhabitats that vary in irradiance and water flow. Phylogenetic diversity (PD values of coral SML bacteria communities were greater than surrounding seawater and lower than adjacent sediment. Bacterial diversity and community composition was consistent among the three microhabitats. Cyanobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Alphaproteobacteria, and Proteobacteria, respectively were the most abundant phyla represented in the samples. This is the first time spatial variability of the surface mucus layer of A. palmata has been studied. Homogeneity in the microbiome of A. palmata contrasts with SML heterogeneity found in other Caribbean corals. These findings suggest that, during non-stressful conditions, host regulation of SML microbiota may override diverse physiochemical influences induced by the topographical complexity of A. palmata. Documenting the spatial distribution of SML microbes is essential to understanding the functional roles these microorganisms play in coral health and adaptability to environmental perturbations.

  4. Spatial Homogeneity of Bacterial Communities Associated with the Surface Mucus Layer of the Reef-Building Coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kemp, Dustin W; Rivers, Adam R; Kemp, Keri M; Lipp, Erin K; Porter, James W; Wares, John P

    2015-01-01

    Coral surface mucus layer (SML) microbiota are critical components of the coral holobiont and play important roles in nutrient cycling and defense against pathogens. We sequenced 16S rRNA amplicons to examine the structure of the SML microbiome within and between colonies of the threatened Caribbean reef-building coral Acropora palmata in the Florida Keys. Samples were taken from three spatially distinct colony regions--uppermost (high irradiance), underside (low irradiance), and the colony base--representing microhabitats that vary in irradiance and water flow. Phylogenetic diversity (PD) values of coral SML bacteria communities were greater than surrounding seawater and lower than adjacent sediment. Bacterial diversity and community composition was consistent among the three microhabitats. Cyanobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Alphaproteobacteria, and Proteobacteria, respectively were the most abundant phyla represented in the samples. This is the first time spatial variability of the surface mucus layer of A. palmata has been studied. Homogeneity in the microbiome of A. palmata contrasts with SML heterogeneity found in other Caribbean corals. These findings suggest that, during non-stressful conditions, host regulation of SML microbiota may override diverse physiochemical influences induced by the topographical complexity of A. palmata. Documenting the spatial distribution of SML microbes is essential to understanding the functional roles these microorganisms play in coral health and adaptability to environmental perturbations.

  5. Regulation of apoptotic mediators reveals dynamic responses to thermal stress in the reef building coral Acropora millepora.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pernice, Mathieu; Dunn, Simon R; Miard, Thomas; Dufour, Sylvie; Dove, Sophie; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2011-01-24

    Mass coral bleaching is increasing in scale and frequency across the world's coral reefs and is being driven primarily by increased levels of thermal stress arising from global warming. In order to understand the impacts of projected climate change upon corals reefs, it is important to elucidate the underlying cellular mechanisms that operate during coral bleaching and subsequent mortality. In this respect, increased apoptotic cell death activity is an important cellular process that is associated with the breakdown of the mutualistic symbiosis between the cnidarian host and their dinoflagellate symbionts. The PRESENT study reports the impacts of different stressors (colchicine and heat stress) on three phases of apoptosis: (i) the potential initiation by differential expression of Bcl-2 members, (ii) the execution of apoptotic events by activation of caspase 3-like proteases and (iii) and finally, the cell disposal indicated by DNA fragmentation in the reef building coral Acropora millepora. In corals incubated with colchicine, an increase in caspase 3-like activity and DNA fragmentation was associated with a relative down-regulation of Bcl-2, suggesting that the initiation of apoptosis may be mediated by the suppression of an anti-apoptotic mechanism. In contrast, in the early steps of heat stress, the induction of caspase-dependent apoptosis was related to a relative up-regulation of Bcl-2 consecutively followed by a delayed decrease in apoptosis activity. In the light of these results, we propose a model of heat stress in coral hosts whereby increasing temperatures engage activation of caspase 3-dependent apoptosis in cells designated for termination, but also the onset of a delayed protective response involving overexpression of Bcl-2 in surviving cells. This mitigating response to thermal stress could conceivably be an important regulatory mechanism for cell survival in corals exposed to sudden environmental changes.

  6. Regulation of apoptotic mediators reveals dynamic responses to thermal stress in the reef building coral Acropora millepora.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mathieu Pernice

    2011-01-01

    Full Text Available Mass coral bleaching is increasing in scale and frequency across the world's coral reefs and is being driven primarily by increased levels of thermal stress arising from global warming. In order to understand the impacts of projected climate change upon corals reefs, it is important to elucidate the underlying cellular mechanisms that operate during coral bleaching and subsequent mortality. In this respect, increased apoptotic cell death activity is an important cellular process that is associated with the breakdown of the mutualistic symbiosis between the cnidarian host and their dinoflagellate symbionts.The PRESENT study reports the impacts of different stressors (colchicine and heat stress on three phases of apoptosis: (i the potential initiation by differential expression of Bcl-2 members, (ii the execution of apoptotic events by activation of caspase 3-like proteases and (iii and finally, the cell disposal indicated by DNA fragmentation in the reef building coral Acropora millepora. In corals incubated with colchicine, an increase in caspase 3-like activity and DNA fragmentation was associated with a relative down-regulation of Bcl-2, suggesting that the initiation of apoptosis may be mediated by the suppression of an anti-apoptotic mechanism. In contrast, in the early steps of heat stress, the induction of caspase-dependent apoptosis was related to a relative up-regulation of Bcl-2 consecutively followed by a delayed decrease in apoptosis activity.In the light of these results, we propose a model of heat stress in coral hosts whereby increasing temperatures engage activation of caspase 3-dependent apoptosis in cells designated for termination, but also the onset of a delayed protective response involving overexpression of Bcl-2 in surviving cells. This mitigating response to thermal stress could conceivably be an important regulatory mechanism for cell survival in corals exposed to sudden environmental changes.

  7. Earlier (late Pliocene) first appearance of the Caribbean reef-building coral Acropora palmata: Stratigraphic and evolutionary implications

    Science.gov (United States)

    McNeill, Donald F.; Budd, Ann F.; Borne, Pamela F.

    1997-10-01

    An integrated stratigraphic study of reefal deposits on the Caribbean side of the Isthmus of Panama (Limon, Costa Rica) has discovered a significantly earlier first appearance of the major reef-building coral Acropora palmata. A. palmata is here reported from the early late Pliocene, constrained in age to within the Gauss chron (ca. 3.6 2.6 Ma). This coral was previously thought to have originated in the earliest Pleistocene and has subsequently been used as a Quaternary marker throughout the Caribbean and the Bahamas. An earlier appearance in the southern Caribbean implies a diachronous first appearance datum relative to the northern Caribbean. This older age also places A. palmata well within the transition phase of a Pliocene (4 1 Ma) faunal turnover that was marked by widespread extinction and origination of Caribbean coral species. An early late Pliocene origination is coincident with formation of the Isthmus, climate reorganization, and frequent sea-level changes associated with onset of Northern Hemisphere glaciations. The rapid growth and accumulation rates that characterize A. palmata may therefore be adaptive to these fluctuating environmental conditions, enabling its success during the subsequent Pleistocene glacial cycles.

  8. Genotypic variation influences reproductive success and thermal stress tolerance in the reef building coral, Acropora palmata

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baums, I. B.; Devlin-Durante, M. K.; Polato, N. R.; Xu, D.; Giri, S.; Altman, N. S.; Ruiz, D.; Parkinson, J. E.; Boulay, J. N.

    2013-09-01

    The branching coral Acropora palmata is a foundation species of Caribbean reefs that has been decimated in recent decades by anthropogenic and natural stressors. Declines in population density and genotypic diversity likely reduce successful sexual reproduction in this self-incompatible hermaphrodite and might impede recovery. We investigated variation among genotypes in larval development under thermally stressful conditions. Six two-parent crosses and three four-parent batches were reared under three temperatures and sampled over time. Fertilization rates differed widely with two-parent crosses having lower fertilization rates (5-56 %, mean 22 % ± 22 SD) than batches (from 31 to 87 %, mean 59 % ± 28 SD). Parentage analysis of larvae in batch cultures showed differences in gamete compatibility among parents, coinciding with significant variation in both sperm morphology and egg size. While all larval batches developed more rapidly at increased water temperatures, rate of progression through developmental stages varied among batches, as did swimming speed. Together, these results indicate that loss of genotypic diversity exacerbates already severe limitations in sexual reproductive success of A. palmata. Nevertheless, surviving parental genotypes produce larvae that do vary in their phenotypic response to thermal stress, with implications for adaptation, larval dispersal and population connectivity in the face of warming sea surface temperatures.

  9. Coral life history and symbiosis: Functional genomic resources for two reef building Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Szmant Alina M

    2008-02-01

    Full Text Available Abstract Background Scleractinian corals are the foundation of reef ecosystems in tropical marine environments. Their great success is due to interactions with endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp., with which they are obligately symbiotic. To develop a foundation for studying coral biology and coral symbiosis, we have constructed a set of cDNA libraries and generated and annotated ESTs from two species of corals, Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata. Results We generated 14,588 (Ap and 3,854 (Mf high quality ESTs from five life history/symbiosis stages (spawned eggs, early-stage planula larvae, late-stage planula larvae either infected with symbionts or uninfected, and adult coral. The ESTs assembled into a set of primarily stage-specific clusters, producing 4,980 (Ap, and 1,732 (Mf unigenes. The egg stage library, relative to the other developmental stages, was enriched in genes functioning in cell division and proliferation, transcription, signal transduction, and regulation of protein function. Fifteen unigenes were identified as candidate symbiosis-related genes as they were expressed in all libraries constructed from the symbiotic stages and were absent from all of the non symbiotic stages. These include several DNA interacting proteins, and one highly expressed unigene (containing 17 cDNAs with no significant protein-coding region. A significant number of unigenes (25 encode potential pattern recognition receptors (lectins, scavenger receptors, and others, as well as genes that may function in signaling pathways involved in innate immune responses (toll-like signaling, NFkB p105, and MAP kinases. Comparison between the A. palmata and an A. millepora EST dataset identified ferritin as a highly expressed gene in both datasets that appears to be undergoing adaptive evolution. Five unigenes appear to be restricted to the Scleractinia, as they had no homology to any sequences in the nr databases nor to the non

  10. Coral life history and symbiosis: functional genomic resources for two reef building Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schwarz, Jodi A; Brokstein, Peter B; Voolstra, Christian; Terry, Astrid Y; Manohar, Chitra F; Miller, David J; Szmant, Alina M; Coffroth, Mary Alice; Medina, Mónica

    2008-02-25

    Scleractinian corals are the foundation of reef ecosystems in tropical marine environments. Their great success is due to interactions with endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.), with which they are obligately symbiotic. To develop a foundation for studying coral biology and coral symbiosis, we have constructed a set of cDNA libraries and generated and annotated ESTs from two species of corals, Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata. We generated 14,588 (Ap) and 3,854 (Mf) high quality ESTs from five life history/symbiosis stages (spawned eggs, early-stage planula larvae, late-stage planula larvae either infected with symbionts or uninfected, and adult coral). The ESTs assembled into a set of primarily stage-specific clusters, producing 4,980 (Ap), and 1,732 (Mf) unigenes. The egg stage library, relative to the other developmental stages, was enriched in genes functioning in cell division and proliferation, transcription, signal transduction, and regulation of protein function. Fifteen unigenes were identified as candidate symbiosis-related genes as they were expressed in all libraries constructed from the symbiotic stages and were absent from all of the non symbiotic stages. These include several DNA interacting proteins, and one highly expressed unigene (containing 17 cDNAs) with no significant protein-coding region. A significant number of unigenes (25) encode potential pattern recognition receptors (lectins, scavenger receptors, and others), as well as genes that may function in signaling pathways involved in innate immune responses (toll-like signaling, NFkB p105, and MAP kinases). Comparison between the A. palmata and an A. millepora EST dataset identified ferritin as a highly expressed gene in both datasets that appears to be undergoing adaptive evolution. Five unigenes appear to be restricted to the Scleractinia, as they had no homology to any sequences in the nr databases nor to the non-scleractinian cnidarians Nematostella vectensis and

  11. Unexpected complexity of the reef-building coral Acropora millepora transcription factor network.

    KAUST Repository

    Ryu, Tae Woo

    2011-04-28

    Coral reefs are disturbed on a global scale by environmental changes including rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification. Little is known about how corals respond or adapt to these environmental changes especially at the molecular level. This is mostly because of the paucity of genome-wide studies on corals and the application of systems approaches that incorporate the latter. Like in any other organism, the response of corals to stress is tightly controlled by the coordinated interplay of many transcription factors.

  12. Unexpected complexity of the reef-building coral Acropora millepora transcription factor network.

    KAUST Repository

    Ryu, Tae Woo; Mavromatis, Charalampos Harris; Bayer, Till; Voolstra, Christian R.; Ravasi, Timothy

    2011-01-01

    Coral reefs are disturbed on a global scale by environmental changes including rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification. Little is known about how corals respond or adapt to these environmental changes especially at the molecular level. This is mostly because of the paucity of genome-wide studies on corals and the application of systems approaches that incorporate the latter. Like in any other organism, the response of corals to stress is tightly controlled by the coordinated interplay of many transcription factors.

  13. Effects of coal contamination on early life history processes of a reef-building coral, Acropora tenuis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Berry, Kathryn L E; Hoogenboom, Mia O; Brinkman, Diane L; Burns, Kathryn A; Negri, Andrew P

    2017-01-15

    Successful reproduction and larval dispersal are important for the persistence of marine invertebrate populations, and these early life history processes can be sensitive to marine pollution. Coal is emerging as a contaminant of interest due to the proximity of ports and shipping lanes to coral reefs. To assess the potential hazard of this contaminant, gametes, newly developed embryos, larvae and juveniles of the coral Acropora tenuis were exposed to a range of coal leachate, suspended coal, and coal smothering treatments. Fertilisation was the most sensitive reproductive process tested. Embryo survivorship decreased with increasing suspended coal concentrations and exposure duration, effects on larval settlement varied between treatments, while effects on juvenile survivorship were minimal. Leachate exposures had negligible effects on fertilisation and larval settlement. These results indicate that coral recruitment could be affected by spills that produce plumes of suspended coal particles which interact with gametes and embryos soon after spawning. Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

  14. Microarray analysis reveals transcriptional plasticity in the reef building coral Acropora millepora

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Bay, L. K.; Ulstrup, K. E.; Nielsen, H. B.

    2009-01-01

    ) following translocation to a lower light and turbidity environment. Such metabolic downregulation may indicate nonoxidative stress, hibernation or caloric restriction associated with the changed environmental conditions. Green fluorescent protein-related genes were the most differentially expressed and were...... exclusively downregulated; however, green fluorescent protein levels remained unchanged following translocation. Photophysiological responses of corals from both locations were characterized by a decline when introduced to the common laboratory environment but remained healthy (F-v/F-m > 0.6). Declines...

  15. Sexual reproduction of Acropora reef corals at Moorea, French Polynesia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Carroll, A.; Harrison, P.; Adjeroud, M.

    2006-03-01

    Little information is available on reproductive processes among corals in isolated central Pacific reef regions, including French Polynesia. This study examined the timing and mode of sexual reproduction for Acropora reef corals at Moorea. Spawning was observed and/or inferred in 110 Acropora colonies, representing 12 species, following full moon periods in September through November 2002. Gamete release was observed and inferred in four species of Acropora between 9 and 13 nights after the full moon (nAFM) in September 2002. Twelve Acropora spp. spawned gametes between 5 and 10 nAFM in October 2002, with six species spawning 7 nAFM and four species spawning 9 nAFM. In November 2002, spawning of egg and sperm bundles was observed and inferred in 27 colonies of Acropora austera, 6 nAFM. These are the first detailed records of spawning by Acropora corals in French Polynesia.

  16. Microsatellite loci isolated from the scleractinian coral, Acropora nobilis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Isomura, Naoko; Hidaka, Michio

    2008-05-01

    We report the isolation and characterization of eight microsatellite loci from the scleractinian coral, Acropora nobilis. The microsatellite loci were obtained using compound SSR primers or an enrichment protocol. All the loci were polymorphic with four to eight alleles per locus and observed heterozygosities ranging from 0.22 to 0.76. Some of the primers developed for the two congeners, Acropora palmata and Acropora millepora were applicable to A. nobilis. These loci are useful for studying the connectivity among A. nobilis populations in Okinawa, southern Japan. © 2007 The Authors.

  17. Genomic variation among populations of threatened coral: Acropora cervicornis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Drury, C; Dale, K E; Panlilio, J M; Miller, S V; Lirman, D; Larson, E A; Bartels, E; Crawford, D L; Oleksiak, M F

    2016-04-13

    Acropora cervicornis, a threatened, keystone reef-building coral has undergone severe declines (>90 %) throughout the Caribbean. These declines could reduce genetic variation and thus hamper the species' ability to adapt. Active restoration strategies are a common conservation approach to mitigate species' declines and require genetic data on surviving populations to efficiently respond to declines while maintaining the genetic diversity needed to adapt to changing conditions. To evaluate active restoration strategies for the staghorn coral, the genetic diversity of A. cervicornis within and among populations was assessed in 77 individuals collected from 68 locations along the Florida Reef Tract (FRT) and in the Dominican Republic. Genotyping by Sequencing (GBS) identified 4,764 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Pairwise nucleotide differences (π) within a population are large (~37 %) and similar to π across all individuals. This high level of genetic diversity along the FRT is similar to the diversity within a small, isolated reef. Much of the genetic diversity (>90 %) exists within a population, yet GBS analysis shows significant variation along the FRT, including 300 SNPs with significant FST values and significant divergence relative to distance. There are also significant differences in SNP allele frequencies over small spatial scales, exemplified by the large FST values among corals collected within Miami-Dade county. Large standing diversity was found within each population even after recent declines in abundance, including significant, potentially adaptive divergence over short distances. The data here inform conservation and management actions by uncovering population structure and high levels of diversity maintained within coral collections among sites previously shown to have little genetic divergence. More broadly, this approach demonstrates the power of GBS to resolve differences among individuals and identify subtle genetic structure

  18. Regionally isolated populations of an imperiled Caribbean coral, Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baums, Iliana B; Miller, Margaret W; Hellberg, Michael E

    2005-04-01

    The movements of larvae between marine populations are difficult to follow directly and have been the subject of much controversy, especially in the Caribbean. The debate centres on the degree to which populations are demographically open, such that depleted populations can be replenished by recruitment from distant healthy populations, or demographically closed and thus in need of local management. Given the depressed state of many tropical reef populations, the understanding of these movements now bears critically on the number, placement, and size of marine reserves. Most genetic analyses assume that dispersal patterns have been stable for thousands of generations, thus they commonly reflect past colonization histories more than ongoing dispersal. Recently developed multilocus genotyping approaches, however, have the demonstrated ability to detect both migration and population isolation over far shorter timescales. Previously, we developed five microsatellite markers and demonstrated them to be both Mendelian and coral-specific. Using these markers and Bayesian analyses, we show here that populations of the imperiled reef-building coral, Acropora palmata, have experienced little or no recent genetic exchange between the western and the eastern Caribbean. Puerto Rico is identified as an area of mixing between the two subregions. As a consequence of this regional isolation, populations in the western and eastern Caribbean should have the potential to adapt to local conditions and will require population-specific management strategies.

  19. The genetics of colony form and function in Caribbean Acropora corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hemond, Elizabeth M; Kaluziak, Stefan T; Vollmer, Steven V

    2014-12-17

    Colonial reef-building corals have evolved a broad spectrum of colony morphologies based on coordinated asexual reproduction of polyps on a secreted calcium carbonate skeleton. Though cnidarians have been shown to possess and use similar developmental genes to bilaterians during larval development and polyp formation, little is known about genetic regulation of colony morphology in hard corals. We used RNA-seq to evaluate transcriptomic differences between functionally distinct regions of the coral (apical branch tips and branch bases) in two species of Caribbean Acropora, the staghorn coral, A. cervicornis, and the elkhorn coral, A. palmata. Transcriptome-wide gene profiles differed significantly between different parts of the coral colony as well as between species. Genes showing differential expression between branch tips and bases were involved in developmental signaling pathways, such as Wnt, Notch, and BMP, as well as pH regulation, ion transport, extracellular matrix production and other processes. Differences both within colonies and between species identify a relatively small number of genes that may contribute to the distinct "staghorn" versus "elkhorn" morphologies of these two sister species. The large number of differentially expressed genes supports a strong division of labor between coral branch tips and branch bases. Genes involved in growth of mature Acropora colonies include the classical signaling pathways associated with development of cnidarian larvae and polyps as well as morphological determination in higher metazoans.

  20. Is Acropora palmata (elkhorn coral) making a comeback in the Virgin Islands?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.

    2000-01-01

    White band disease (WBD) ravaged Acropora palmata (elkhorn coral) on many coral reefs in the Caribbean in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, including those around St. John and St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands—USVI (Gladfelter 1982, Rogers 1985). Quantitative data, photographs, and anecdotal observations indicate WBD killed large stands of elkhorn coral in the USVI from about 1976 until sometime in the late 1980’s. Branching Acroporid species, which are most susceptible to WBD, are also the most vulnerable to storm damage (Rogers et al. 1982). Since 1979, eight hurricanes have passed near or over the USVI. Because elkhorn coral contributed most of the living coral and determined the physical structure of many shallow reef zones, its demise dramatically altered many areas. But now, some of the reefs in the Virgin Islands once again have large, actively growing colonies of this important, reef-building species.

  1. Utilization of mucus from the coral Acropora palmata by the pathogen Serratia marcescens and by environmental and coral commensal bacteria.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Krediet, Cory J; Ritchie, Kim B; Cohen, Matthew; Lipp, Erin K; Sutherland, Kathryn Patterson; Teplitski, Max

    2009-06-01

    In recent years, diseases of corals caused by opportunistic pathogens have become widespread. How opportunistic pathogens establish on coral surfaces, interact with native microbiota, and cause disease is not yet clear. This study compared the utilization of coral mucus by coral-associated commensal bacteria ("Photobacterium mandapamensis" and Halomonas meridiana) and by opportunistic Serratia marcescens pathogens. S. marcescens PDL100 (a pathogen associated with white pox disease of Acroporid corals) grew to higher population densities on components of mucus from the host coral. In an in vitro coculture on mucus from Acropora palmata, S. marcescens PDL100 isolates outgrew coral isolates. The white pox pathogen did not differ from other bacteria in growth on mucus from a nonhost coral, Montastraea faveolata. The ability of S. marcescens to cause disease in acroporid corals may be due, at least in part, to the ability of strain PDL100 to build to higher population numbers within the mucus surface layer of its acroporid host. During growth on mucus from A. palmata, similar glycosidase activities were present in coral commensal bacteria, in S. marcescens PDL100, and in environmental and human isolates of S. marcescens. The temporal regulation of these activities during growth on mucus, however, was distinct in the isolates. During early stages of growth on mucus, enzymatic activities in S. marcescens PDL100 were most similar to those in coral commensals. After overnight incubation on mucus, enzymatic activities in a white pox pathogen were most similar to those in pathogenic Serratia strains isolated from human mucosal surfaces.

  2. The threatened Atlantic elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata : population dynamics and their policy implications

    OpenAIRE

    Vardi, Tali

    2011-01-01

    Fossil data from multiple locations indicates that Atlantic elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, formed shallow reefs throughout the Caribbean Sea since the Pleistocene. Beginning in the 1980s A. palmata has declined to a small fraction of its formerly vast extent throughout the region. In 2006, elkhorn coral was the first coral, along with its sister species, staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), to be included on the U.S. Endangered Species List. We used size-based matrix mod...

  3. Weak prezygotic isolating mechanisms in threatened Caribbean Acropora corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nicole D Fogarty

    Full Text Available The Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, recently have undergone drastic declines primarily as a result of disease. Previous molecular studies have demonstrated that these species form a hybrid (A. prolifera that varies in abundance throughout the range of the parental distribution. There is variable unidirectional introgression across loci and sites of A. palmata genes flowing into A. cervicornis. Here we examine the efficacy of prezygotic reproductive isolating mechanisms within these corals including spawning times and choice and no-choice fertilization crosses. We show that these species have subtly different mean but overlapping spawning times, suggesting that temporal isolation is likely not an effective barrier to hybridization. We found species-specific differences in gametic incompatibilities. Acropora palmata eggs were relatively resistant to hybridization, especially when conspecific sperm are available to outcompete heterospecific sperm. Acropora cervicornis eggs demonstrated no evidence for gametic incompatibility and no evidence of reduced viability after aging four hours. This asymmetry in compatibility matches previous genetic data on unidirectional introgression.

  4. Weak prezygotic isolating mechanisms in threatened Caribbean Acropora corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fogarty, Nicole D; Vollmer, Steven V; Levitan, Don R

    2012-01-01

    The Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, recently have undergone drastic declines primarily as a result of disease. Previous molecular studies have demonstrated that these species form a hybrid (A. prolifera) that varies in abundance throughout the range of the parental distribution. There is variable unidirectional introgression across loci and sites of A. palmata genes flowing into A. cervicornis. Here we examine the efficacy of prezygotic reproductive isolating mechanisms within these corals including spawning times and choice and no-choice fertilization crosses. We show that these species have subtly different mean but overlapping spawning times, suggesting that temporal isolation is likely not an effective barrier to hybridization. We found species-specific differences in gametic incompatibilities. Acropora palmata eggs were relatively resistant to hybridization, especially when conspecific sperm are available to outcompete heterospecific sperm. Acropora cervicornis eggs demonstrated no evidence for gametic incompatibility and no evidence of reduced viability after aging four hours. This asymmetry in compatibility matches previous genetic data on unidirectional introgression.

  5. Biannual Spawning and Temporal Reproductive Isolation in Acropora Corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    James P Gilmour

    Full Text Available Coral spawning on the oceanic reef systems of north-western Australia was recently discovered during autumn and spring, but the degree to which species and particularly colonies participated in one or both of these spawnings was unknown. At the largest of the oceanic reef systems, the participation by colonies in the two discrete spawning events was investigated over three years in 13 species of Acropora corals (n = 1,855 colonies. Seven species spawned during both seasons; five only in autumn and one only in spring. The majority of tagged colonies (n = 218 spawned once a year in the same season, but five colonies from three species spawned during spring and autumn during a single year. Reproductive seasonality was not influenced by spatial variation in habitat conditions, or by Symbiodinium partners in the biannual spawner Acropora tenuis. Colonies of A. tenuis spawning during different seasons separated into two distinct yet cryptic groups, in a bayesian clustering analysis based on multiple microsatellite markers. These groups were associated with a major genetic divergence (G"ST = 0.469, despite evidence of mixed ancestry in a small proportion of individuals. Our results confirm that temporal reproductive isolation is a common feature of Acropora populations at Scott Reef and indicate that spawning season is a genetically determined trait in at least A. tenuis. This reproductive isolation may be punctuated occasionally by interbreeding between genetic groups following favourable environmental conditions, when autumn spawners undergo a second annual gametogenic cycle and spawn during spring.

  6. Identification of fast-evolving genes in the scleractinian coral Acropora using comparative EST analysis.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Akira Iguchi

    Full Text Available To identify fast-evolving genes in reef-building corals, we performed direct comparative sequence analysis with expressed sequence tag (EST datasets from two acroporid species: Acropora palmata from the Caribbean Sea and A. millepora from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Comparison of 589 independent sequences from 1,421 A. palmata contigs, with 10,247 A. millepora contigs resulted in the identification of 196 putative homologues. Most of the homologous pairs demonstrated high amino acid similarities (over 90%. Comparisons of putative homologues showing low amino acid similarities (under 90% among the Acropora species to the near complete datasets from two other cnidarians (Hydra magnipapillata and Nematostella vectensis implied that some were non-orthologous. Within 86 homologous pairs, 39 exhibited dN/dS ratios significantly less than 1, suggesting that these genes are under purifying selection associated with functional constraints. Eight independent genes showed dN/dS ratios exceeding 1, while three deviated significantly from 1, suggesting that these genes may play important roles in the adaptive evolution of Acropora. Our results also indicated that CEL-III lectin was under positive selection, consistent with a possible role in immunity or symbiont recognition. Further studies are needed to clarify the possible functions of the genes under positive selection to provide insight into the evolutionary process of corals.

  7. Identification of fast-evolving genes in the scleractinian coral Acropora using comparative EST analysis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Iguchi, Akira; Shinzato, Chuya; Forêt, Sylvain; Miller, David J

    2011-01-01

    To identify fast-evolving genes in reef-building corals, we performed direct comparative sequence analysis with expressed sequence tag (EST) datasets from two acroporid species: Acropora palmata from the Caribbean Sea and A. millepora from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Comparison of 589 independent sequences from 1,421 A. palmata contigs, with 10,247 A. millepora contigs resulted in the identification of 196 putative homologues. Most of the homologous pairs demonstrated high amino acid similarities (over 90%). Comparisons of putative homologues showing low amino acid similarities (under 90%) among the Acropora species to the near complete datasets from two other cnidarians (Hydra magnipapillata and Nematostella vectensis) implied that some were non-orthologous. Within 86 homologous pairs, 39 exhibited dN/dS ratios significantly less than 1, suggesting that these genes are under purifying selection associated with functional constraints. Eight independent genes showed dN/dS ratios exceeding 1, while three deviated significantly from 1, suggesting that these genes may play important roles in the adaptive evolution of Acropora. Our results also indicated that CEL-III lectin was under positive selection, consistent with a possible role in immunity or symbiont recognition. Further studies are needed to clarify the possible functions of the genes under positive selection to provide insight into the evolutionary process of corals.

  8. Transcriptomic responses to heat stress and bleaching in the elkhorn coral Acropora palmata

    KAUST Repository

    DeSalvo, MK

    2010-03-08

    The emergence of genomic tools for reef-building corals and symbiotic anemones comes at a time when alarming losses in coral cover are being observed worldwide. These tools hold great promise in elucidating novel and unforeseen cellular processes underlying the successful mutualism between corals and their dinoflagellate endosymbionts Symbiodinium spp. Since thermal stress triggers a breakdown in the symbiosis (coral bleaching), measuring the transcriptomic response to thermal stress-induced bleaching offers an extraordinary view of cellular processes that are specific to coral–algal symbioses. In the present study, we utilized a cDNA microarray containing 2059 genes of the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral Acropora palmata to identify genes that are differentially expressed upon thermal stress. Fragments from replicate colonies were exposed to elevated temperature for 2 d, and samples were frozen for microarray analysis after 24 and 48 h. Totals of 204 and 104 genes were differentially expressed in samples that were collected 1 and 2 d after thermal stress, respectively. Analysis of the differentially expressed genes indicates a cellular stress response in A. palmata involving (1) growth arrest, (2) chaperone activity, (3) nucleic acid stabilization and repair, and (4) removal of damaged macromolecules. Other differentially expressed processes include sensory perception, metabolite transfer between host and endosymbiont, nitric oxide signaling, and modifications to the actin cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix. The results are compared with those from a previous coral microarray study of thermal stress in Montastraea faveolata, and point to an overall evolutionary conserved bleaching response in scleractinian corals.

  9. Transcriptomic responses to heat stress and bleaching in the elkhorn coral Acropora palmata

    KAUST Repository

    DeSalvo, MK; Sunagawa, S; Voolstra, Christian R.; Medina, M

    2010-01-01

    The emergence of genomic tools for reef-building corals and symbiotic anemones comes at a time when alarming losses in coral cover are being observed worldwide. These tools hold great promise in elucidating novel and unforeseen cellular processes underlying the successful mutualism between corals and their dinoflagellate endosymbionts Symbiodinium spp. Since thermal stress triggers a breakdown in the symbiosis (coral bleaching), measuring the transcriptomic response to thermal stress-induced bleaching offers an extraordinary view of cellular processes that are specific to coral–algal symbioses. In the present study, we utilized a cDNA microarray containing 2059 genes of the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral Acropora palmata to identify genes that are differentially expressed upon thermal stress. Fragments from replicate colonies were exposed to elevated temperature for 2 d, and samples were frozen for microarray analysis after 24 and 48 h. Totals of 204 and 104 genes were differentially expressed in samples that were collected 1 and 2 d after thermal stress, respectively. Analysis of the differentially expressed genes indicates a cellular stress response in A. palmata involving (1) growth arrest, (2) chaperone activity, (3) nucleic acid stabilization and repair, and (4) removal of damaged macromolecules. Other differentially expressed processes include sensory perception, metabolite transfer between host and endosymbiont, nitric oxide signaling, and modifications to the actin cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix. The results are compared with those from a previous coral microarray study of thermal stress in Montastraea faveolata, and point to an overall evolutionary conserved bleaching response in scleractinian corals.

  10. 78 FR 12702 - Endangered and Threatened Species; Proposed Rule To List 66 Reef-Building Coral Species; Proposed...

    Science.gov (United States)

    2013-02-25

    ...; Proposed Reclassification of Elkhorn Acropora palmata and Staghorn Acropora cervicornis Under the... reclassifications of elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) corals under the ESA until April...

  11. Circadian cycles of gene expression in the coral, Acropora millepora.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Aisling K Brady

    Full Text Available Circadian rhythms regulate many physiological, behavioral and reproductive processes. These rhythms are often controlled by light, and daily cycles of solar illumination entrain many clock regulated processes. In scleractinian corals a number of different processes and behaviors are associated with specific periods of solar illumination or non-illumination--for example, skeletal deposition, feeding and both brooding and broadcast spawning.We have undertaken an analysis of diurnal expression of the whole transcriptome and more focused studies on a number of candidate circadian genes in the coral Acropora millepora using deep RNA sequencing and quantitative PCR. Many examples of diurnal cycles of RNA abundance were identified, some of which are light responsive and damped quickly under constant darkness, for example, cryptochrome 1 and timeless, but others that continue to cycle in a robust manner when kept in constant darkness, for example, clock, cryptochrome 2, cycle and eyes absent, indicating that their transcription is regulated by an endogenous clock entrained to the light-dark cycle. Many other biological processes that varied between day and night were also identified by a clustering analysis of gene ontology annotations.Corals exhibit diurnal patterns of gene expression that may participate in the regulation of circadian biological processes. Rhythmic cycles of gene expression occur under constant darkness in both populations of coral larvae that lack zooxanthellae and in individual adult tissue containing zooxanthellae, indicating that transcription is under the control of a biological clock. In addition to genes potentially involved in regulating circadian processes, many other pathways were found to display diel cycles of transcription.

  12. Highly heterogeneous bacterial communities associated with the South China Sea reef corals Porites lutea, Galaxea fascicularis and Acropora millepora.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jie Li

    Full Text Available Coral harbor diverse and specific bacteria play significant roles in coral holobiont function. Bacteria associated with three of the common and phylogenetically divergent reef-building corals in the South China Sea, Porites lutea, Galaxea fascicularis and Acropora millepora, were investigated using 454 barcoded-pyrosequencing. Three colonies of each species were sampled, and 16S rRNA gene libraries were constructed individually. Analysis of pyrosequencing libraries showed that bacterial communities associated with the three coral species were more diverse than previous estimates based on corals from the Caribbean Sea, Indo-Pacific reefs and the Red Sea. Three candidate phyla, including BRC1, OD1 and SR1, were found for the first time in corals. Bacterial communities were separated into three groups: P. lutea and G. fascicular, A. millepora and seawater. P. lutea and G. fascicular displayed more similar bacterial communities, and bacterial communities associated with A. millepora differed from the other two coral species. The three coral species shared only 22 OTUs, which were distributed in Alphaproteobacteria, Deltaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Chloroflexi, Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria and an unclassified bacterial group. The composition of bacterial communities within each colony of each coral species also showed variation. The relatively small common and large specific bacterial communities in these corals implies that bacterial associations may be structured by multiple factors at different scales and that corals may associate with microbes in terms of similar function, rather than identical species.

  13. Experimental antibiotic treatment identifies potential pathogens of white band disease in the endangered Caribbean coral Acropora cervicornis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sweet, M J; Croquer, A; Bythell, J C

    2014-08-07

    Coral diseases have been increasingly reported over the past few decades and are a major contributor to coral decline worldwide. The Caribbean, in particular, has been noted as a hotspot for coral disease, and the aptly named white syndromes have caused the decline of the dominant reef building corals throughout their range. White band disease (WBD) has been implicated in the dramatic loss of Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata since the 1970s, resulting in both species being listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red list. The causal agent of WBD remains unknown, although recent studies based on challenge experiments with filtrate from infected hosts concluded that the disease is probably caused by bacteria. Here, we report an experiment using four different antibiotic treatments, targeting different members of the disease-associated microbial community. Two antibiotics, ampicillin and paromomycin, arrested the disease completely, and by comparing with community shifts brought about by treatments that did not arrest the disease, we have identified the likely candidate causal agent or agents of WBD. Our interpretation of the experimental treatments is that one or a combination of up to three specific bacterial types, detected consistently in diseased corals but not detectable in healthy corals, are likely causal agents of WBD. In addition, a histophagous ciliate (Philaster lucinda) identical to that found consistently in association with white syndrome in Indo-Pacific acroporas was also consistently detected in all WBD samples and absent in healthy coral. Treatment with metronidazole reduced it to below detection limits, but did not arrest the disease. However, the microscopic disease signs changed, suggesting a secondary role in disease causation for this ciliate. In future studies to identify a causal agent of WBD via tests of Henle-Koch's postulates, it will be vital to experimentally control for populations

  14. Ocean acidification compromises recruitment success of the threatened Caribbean coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Albright, Rebecca; Mason, Benjamin; Miller, Margaret; Langdon, Chris

    2010-11-23

    Ocean acidification (OA) refers to the ongoing decline in oceanic pH resulting from the uptake of atmospheric CO(2). Mounting experimental evidence suggests that OA will have negative consequences for a variety of marine organisms. Whereas the effect of OA on the calcification of adult reef corals is increasingly well documented, effects on early life history stages are largely unknown. Coral recruitment, which necessitates successful fertilization, larval settlement, and postsettlement growth and survivorship, is critical to the persistence and resilience of coral reefs. To determine whether OA threatens successful sexual recruitment of reef-building corals, we tested fertilization, settlement, and postsettlement growth of Acropora palmata at pCO(2) levels that represent average ambient conditions during coral spawning (∼400 μatm) and the range of pCO(2) increases that are expected to occur in this century [∼560 μatm (mid-CO(2)) and ∼800 μatm (high-CO(2))]. Fertilization, settlement, and growth were all negatively impacted by increasing pCO(2), and impairment of fertilization was exacerbated at lower sperm concentrations. The cumulative impact of OA on fertilization and settlement success is an estimated 52% and 73% reduction in the number of larval settlers on the reef under pCO(2) conditions projected for the middle and the end of this century, respectively. Additional declines of 39% (mid-CO(2)) and 50% (high-CO(2)) were observed in postsettlement linear extension rates relative to controls. These results suggest that OA has the potential to impact multiple, sequential early life history stages, thereby severely compromising sexual recruitment and the ability of coral reefs to recover from disturbance.

  15. Which Environmental Factors Predict Seasonal Variation in the Coral Health of Acropora digitifera and Acropora spicifera at Ningaloo Reef?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hinrichs, Saskia; Patten, Nicole L.; Feng, Ming; Strickland, Daniel; Waite, Anya M.

    2013-01-01

    The impact of physico-chemical factors on percent coral cover and coral health was examined on a spatial basis for two dominant Acropora species, A. digitifera and A. spicifera, at Ningaloo Reef (north-western Australia) in the southeast Indian Ocean. Coral health was investigated by measuring metabolic indices (RNA/DNA ratio and protein concentration), energy levels (lipid ratio) and autotrophic indices (chlorophyll a (chl a) and zooxanthellae density) at six stations during typical seasons (austral autumn 2010 (March and April), austral winter 2010 (August)) and during an extreme La Niña event in summer 2011 (February). These indices were correlated with 15 physico-chemical factors (measured immediately following coral sampling) to identify predictors for health indices. Variations in metabolic indices (protein concentration and RNA/DNA ratio) for A. spicifera were mainly explained by nitrogen, temperature and zooplankton concentrations under typical conditions, while for A. digitifera, light as well as phytoplankton, in particular picoeukaryotes, were important, possibly due to higher energy requirement for lipid synthesis and storage in A. digitifera. Optimum metabolic values occurred for both Acropora species at 26–28°C when autotrophic indices (chl a and zooxanthellae density) were lowest. The extreme temperature during the La Niña event resulted in a shift of feeding modes, with an increased importance of water column plankton concentrations for metabolic rates of A. digitifera and light and plankton for A. spicifera. Our results suggest that impacts of high sea surface temperatures during extreme events such as La Niña may be mitigated via reduction on metabolic rates in coral host. The high water column plankton concentrations and associated low light levels resulted in a shift towards high symbiont densities, with lower metabolic rates and energy levels than the seasonal norm for the coral host. PMID:23637770

  16. Which environmental factors predict seasonal variation in the coral health of Acropora digitifera and Acropora spicifera at Ningaloo Reef?

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Saskia Hinrichs

    Full Text Available The impact of physico-chemical factors on percent coral cover and coral health was examined on a spatial basis for two dominant Acropora species, A. digitifera and A. spicifera, at Ningaloo Reef (north-western Australia in the southeast Indian Ocean. Coral health was investigated by measuring metabolic indices (RNA/DNA ratio and protein concentration, energy levels (lipid ratio and autotrophic indices (chlorophyll a (chl a and zooxanthellae density at six stations during typical seasons (austral autumn 2010 (March and April, austral winter 2010 (August and during an extreme La Niña event in summer 2011 (February. These indices were correlated with 15 physico-chemical factors (measured immediately following coral sampling to identify predictors for health indices. Variations in metabolic indices (protein concentration and RNA/DNA ratio for A. spicifera were mainly explained by nitrogen, temperature and zooplankton concentrations under typical conditions, while for A. digitifera, light as well as phytoplankton, in particular picoeukaryotes, were important, possibly due to higher energy requirement for lipid synthesis and storage in A. digitifera. Optimum metabolic values occurred for both Acropora species at 26-28°C when autotrophic indices (chl a and zooxanthellae density were lowest. The extreme temperature during the La Niña event resulted in a shift of feeding modes, with an increased importance of water column plankton concentrations for metabolic rates of A. digitifera and light and plankton for A. spicifera. Our results suggest that impacts of high sea surface temperatures during extreme events such as La Niña may be mitigated via reduction on metabolic rates in coral host. The high water column plankton concentrations and associated low light levels resulted in a shift towards high symbiont densities, with lower metabolic rates and energy levels than the seasonal norm for the coral host.

  17. Genetic Signature of Resistance to White Band Disease in the Caribbean Staghorn Coral Acropora cervicornis.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Silvia Libro

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are declining worldwide due to multiple factors including rising sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, and disease outbreaks. Over the last 30 years, White Band Disease (WBD alone has killed up to 95% of the Caribbean`s dominant shallow-water corals--the staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis and the elkhorn coral A. palmata. Both corals are now listed on the US Endangered Species Act, and while their recovery has been slow, recent transmission surveys indicate that more than 5% of staghorn corals are disease resistant. Here we compared transcriptome-wide gene expression between resistant and susceptible staghorn corals exposed to WBD using in situ transmission assays. We identified constitutive gene expression differences underlying disease resistance that are independent from the immune response associated with disease exposure. Genes involved in RNA interference-mediated gene silencing, including Argonaute were up-regulated in resistant corals, whereas heat shock proteins (HSPs were down-regulated. Up-regulation of Argonaute proteins indicates that post-transcriptional gene silencing plays a key, but previously unsuspected role in coral immunity and disease resistance. Constitutive expression of HSPs has been linked to thermal resilience in other Acropora corals, suggesting that the down-regulation of HSPs in disease resistant staghorn corals may confer a dual benefit of thermal resilience.

  18. Genetic Signature of Resistance to White Band Disease in the Caribbean Staghorn Coral Acropora cervicornis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Libro, Silvia; Vollmer, Steven V

    2016-01-01

    Coral reefs are declining worldwide due to multiple factors including rising sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, and disease outbreaks. Over the last 30 years, White Band Disease (WBD) alone has killed up to 95% of the Caribbean`s dominant shallow-water corals--the staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis and the elkhorn coral A. palmata. Both corals are now listed on the US Endangered Species Act, and while their recovery has been slow, recent transmission surveys indicate that more than 5% of staghorn corals are disease resistant. Here we compared transcriptome-wide gene expression between resistant and susceptible staghorn corals exposed to WBD using in situ transmission assays. We identified constitutive gene expression differences underlying disease resistance that are independent from the immune response associated with disease exposure. Genes involved in RNA interference-mediated gene silencing, including Argonaute were up-regulated in resistant corals, whereas heat shock proteins (HSPs) were down-regulated. Up-regulation of Argonaute proteins indicates that post-transcriptional gene silencing plays a key, but previously unsuspected role in coral immunity and disease resistance. Constitutive expression of HSPs has been linked to thermal resilience in other Acropora corals, suggesting that the down-regulation of HSPs in disease resistant staghorn corals may confer a dual benefit of thermal resilience.

  19. Abundance and Multilocus Sequence Analysis of Vibrio Bacteria Associated with Diseased Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata) of the Florida Keys.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kemp, Keri M; Westrich, Jason R; Alabady, Magdy S; Edwards, Martinique L; Lipp, Erin K

    2018-01-15

    The critically endangered elkhorn coral ( Acropora palmata ) is affected by white pox disease (WPX) throughout the Florida Reef Tract and wider Caribbean. The bacterium Serratia marcescens was previously identified as one etiologic agent of WPX but is no longer consistently detected in contemporary outbreaks. It is now believed that multiple etiologic agents cause WPX; however, to date, no other potential pathogens have been thoroughly investigated. This study examined the association of Vibrio bacteria with WPX occurrence from August 2012 to 2014 at Looe Key Reef in the Florida Keys, USA. The concentration of cultivable Vibrio was consistently greater in WPX samples than in healthy samples. The abundance of Vibrio bacteria relative to total bacteria was four times higher in samples from WPX lesions than in adjacent apparently healthy regions of diseased corals based on quantitative PCR (qPCR). Multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) was used to assess the diversity of 69 Vibrio isolates collected from diseased and apparently healthy A. palmata colonies and the surrounding seawater. Vibrio species with known pathogenicity to corals were detected in both apparently healthy and diseased samples. While the causative agent(s) of contemporary WPX outbreaks remains elusive, our results suggest that Vibrio spp. may be part of a nonspecific heterotrophic bacterial bloom rather than acting as primary pathogens. This study highlights the need for highly resolved temporal sampling in situ to further elucidate the role of Vibrio during WPX onset and progression. IMPORTANCE Coral diseases are increasing worldwide and are now considered a major contributor to coral reef decline. In particular, the Caribbean has been noted as a coral disease hot spot, owing to the dramatic loss of framework-building acroporid corals due to tissue loss diseases. The pathogenesis of contemporary white pox disease (WPX) outbreaks in Acropora palmata remains poorly understood. This study investigates the

  20. High-latitude connectivity of the scleractinian coral Acropora tenuis ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    western Indian Ocean, identified using nuclear intron and mitochondrial ... African Journal of Marine Science ... Results resolved the presence of four putative Acropora clades, genetically disparate according to 3/550 nuclear intron data.

  1. ETIOLOGY OF WHITE POX, A LETHAL DISEASE OF THE CARIBBEAN ELKHORN CORAL, ACROPORA PALMATA.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Populations of the shallow-water Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, are being decimated by white pox disease, with losses in the Florida Keys typically in excess of 70%. Tissue loss is rapid, averaging 2.5 cm2 day-1. A bacterium isolated from diseased A. palmata was shown...

  2. Development and heat stress-induced transcriptomic changes during embryogenesis of the scleractinian coral Acropora palmata

    KAUST Repository

    Portune, Kevin J.; Voolstra, Christian R.; Medina, Mó nica; Szmant, Alina M.

    2010-01-01

    that occurred during embryonic and larval development of the elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, at a non-stressful temperature (28 °C) and further assessed the effects of two elevated temperatures (30 °C and 31.5 °C) on these expression patterns. Using cDNA

  3. The skeleton of the staghorn coral Acropora millepora: molecular and structural characterization

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Ramos-Silva, P.; Kaandorp, J.; Herbst, F.; Plasseraud, L.; Alcaraz, G.; Stern, C.; Corneillat, M.; Guichard, N.; Durlet, C.; Luquet, G.; Marin, F.

    2014-01-01

    The scleractinian coral Acropora millepora is one of the most studied species from the Great Barrier Reef. This species has been used to understand evolutionary, immune and developmental processes in cnidarians. It has also been subject of several ecological studies in order to elucidate reef

  4. Coral growth rates revisited after 31 years: what is causing lower extension rates in Acropora palmata?

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Bak, R.P.M.; Nieuwland, G.; Meesters, H.W.G.

    2009-01-01

    Linear extension of branches in the same Acropora palmata (Lamarck, 1816) population in Curaçao was measured, employing exactly the same methods, in 1971-1973 and in 2002-2004, and the resulting coral growth rates are compared. Linear growth shows the same pattern over seasons in both periods with

  5. Growth anomalies on the coral genera Acropora and Porites are strongly associated with host density and human population size across the Indo-Pacific.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Greta S Aeby

    2011-02-01

    Full Text Available Growth anomalies (GAs are common, tumor-like diseases that can cause significant morbidity and decreased fecundity in the major Indo-Pacific reef-building coral genera, Acropora and Porites. GAs are unusually tractable for testing hypotheses about drivers of coral disease because of their pan-Pacific distributions, relatively high occurrence, and unambiguous ease of identification. We modeled multiple disease-environment associations that may underlie the prevalence of Acropora growth anomalies (AGA (n = 304 surveys and Porites growth anomalies (PGA (n = 602 surveys from across the Indo-Pacific. Nine predictor variables were modeled, including coral host abundance, human population size, and sea surface temperature and ultra-violet radiation anomalies. Prevalence of both AGAs and PGAs were strongly host density-dependent. PGAs additionally showed strong positive associations with human population size. Although this association has been widely posited, this is one of the first broad-scale studies unambiguously linking a coral disease with human population size. These results emphasize that individual coral diseases can show relatively distinct patterns of association with environmental predictors, even in similar diseases (growth anomalies found on different host genera (Acropora vs. Porites. As human densities and environmental degradation increase globally, the prevalence of coral diseases like PGAs could increase accordingly, halted only perhaps by declines in host density below thresholds required for disease establishment.

  6. Growth anomalies on the coral genera Acropora and Porites are strongly associated with host density and human population size across the Indo-Pacific

    Science.gov (United States)

    Aeby, Greta S.; Williams, Gareth J.; Franklin, Erik C.; Haapkyla, Jessica; Harvell, C. Drew; Neale, Stephen; Page, Cathie A.; Raymundo, Laurie; Vargas-Angel, Bernardo; Willis, Bette L.; Work, Thierry M.; Davy, Simon K.

    2011-01-01

    Growth anomalies (GAs) are common, tumor-like diseases that can cause significant morbidity and decreased fecundity in the major Indo-Pacific reef-building coral genera, Acropora and Porites. GAs are unusually tractable for testing hypotheses about drivers of coral disease because of their pan-Pacific distributions, relatively high occurrence, and unambiguous ease of identification. We modeled multiple disease-environment associations that may underlie the prevalence of Acropora growth anomalies (AGA) (n = 304 surveys) and Porites growth anomalies (PGA) (n = 602 surveys) from across the Indo-Pacific. Nine predictor variables were modeled, including coral host abundance, human population size, and sea surface temperature and ultra-violet radiation anomalies. Prevalence of both AGAs and PGAs were strongly host density-dependent. PGAs additionally showed strong positive associations with human population size. Although this association has been widely posited, this is one of the first broad-scale studies unambiguously linking a coral disease with human population size. These results emphasize that individual coral diseases can show relatively distinct patterns of association with environmental predictors, even in similar diseases (growth anomalies) found on different host genera (Acropora vs. Porites). As human densities and environmental degradation increase globally, the prevalence of coral diseases like PGAs could increase accordingly, halted only perhaps by declines in host density below thresholds required for disease establishment.

  7. Draft genome sequence of Halomonas meridiana R1t3 isolated from the surface microbiota of the Caribbean Elkhorn coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Meyer, Julie L; Dillard, Brian A; Rodgers, John M; Ritchie, Kim B; Paul, Valerie J; Teplitski, Max

    2015-01-01

    Members of the gammaproteobacterial genus Halomonas are common in marine environments. Halomonas and other members of the Oceanospirillales have recently been identified as prominent members of the surface microbiota of reef-building corals. Halomonas meridiana strain R1t3 was isolated from the surface mucus layer of the scleractinian coral Acropora palmata in 2005 from the Florida Keys. This strain was chosen for genome sequencing to provide insight into the role of commensal heterotrophic bacteria in the coral holobiont. The draft genome consists of 290 scaffolds, totaling 3.5 Mbp in length and contains 3397 protein-coding genes.

  8. Growth form-dependent response to physical disturbance and thermal stress in Acropora corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Muko, S.; Arakaki, S.; Nagao, M.; Sakai, Kazuhiko

    2013-03-01

    To predict the community structure in response to changing environmental conditions, it is necessary to know the species-specific reaction and relative impact strength of each disturbance. We investigated the coral communities in two sites, an exposed and a protected site, at Iriomote Island, Japan, from 2005 to 2008. During the study period, a cyclone and thermal stress were observed. All Acropora colonies, classified into four morphologies (arborescent, tabular, corymbose, and digitate), were identified and tracked through time to calculate the annual mortality and growth rate. The mortality of all Acropora colonies in the protected site was lower than that in the exposed site during the period without disturbances. Extremely higher mortality due to bleaching was observed in tabular and corymbose Acropora, compared to other growth forms, at the protected sites after thermal stress. In contrast, physical disturbance by a tropical cyclone induced the highest mortality in arborescent and digitate corals at the exposed site. Moreover, arborescent corals exhibited a remarkable decline 1 year after the tropical cyclone at the exposed site. The growth of colonies that survived coral bleaching did not decrease in the following year compared to previous year for all growth forms, but the growth of arborescent and tabular remnant corals at the exposed site declined severely after the tropical cyclone compared to previous year. The delayed mortality and lowered growth rate after the tropical cyclone were probably due to the damage caused by the tropical cyclone. These results indicate that the cyclone had a greater impact on fragile corals than expected. This study provides useful information for the evaluation of Acropora coral response to progressing global warming conditions, which are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity in the near future.

  9. The corallivorous flatworm Amakusaplana acroporae: an invasive species threat to coral reefs?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hume, Benjamin C. C.; D'Angelo, Cecilia; Cunnington, Anna; Smith, Edward G.; Wiedenmann, Jörg

    2014-03-01

    Fatal infestations of land-based Acropora cultures with so-called Acropora- eating flatworms (AEFWs) are a global phenomenon. We evaluate the hypothesis that AEFWs represent a risk to coral reefs by studying the biology and the invasive potential of an AEFW strain from the UK. Molecular analyses identified this strain as Amakusaplana acroporae, a new species described from two US aquaria and one natural location in Australia. Our molecular data together with life history strategies described here suggest that this species accounts for most reported cases of AEFW infestations. We show that local parasitic activity impairs the light-acclimation capacity of the whole host colony. A. acroporae acquires excellent camouflage by harbouring photosynthetically competent, host-derived zooxanthellae and pigments of the green-fluorescent protein family. It shows a preference for Acropora valida but accepts a broad host range. Parasite survival in isolation (5-7 d) potentially allows for an invasion when introduced as non-native species in coral reefs.

  10. Primary Life Stage Boron Isotope and Trace Elements Incorporation in Aposymbiotic Acropora millepora Coral under Ocean Acidification and Warming

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Henry C. Wu

    2017-05-01

    Full Text Available Early-life stages of reef-building corals are vital to coral existence and reef maintenance. It is therefore crucial to study juvenile coral response to future climate change pressures. Moreover, corals are known to be reliable recorders of environmental conditions in their skeletal materials. Aposymbiotic Acropora millepora larvae were cultured in different seawater temperature (27 and 29°C and pCO2 (390 and 750 μatm conditions to understand the impacts of “end of century” ocean acidification (OA and ocean warming (OW conditions on skeletal morphology and geochemistry. The experimental conditions impacted primary polyp juvenile coral skeletal morphology and growth resulting in asymmetric translucent appearances with brittle skeleton features. The impact of OA resulted in microstructure differences with decreased precipitation or lengthening of fasciculi and disorganized aragonite crystals that led to more concentrations of centers of calcifications. The coral skeletal δ11B composition measured by laser ablation MC-ICP-MS was significantly affected by pCO2 (p = 0.0024 and water temperature (p = 1.46 × 10−5. Reconstructed pH of the primary polyp skeleton using the δ11B proxy suggests a difference in coral calcification site and seawater pH consistent with previously observed coral pH up-regulation. Similarly, trace element results measured by laser ablation ICP-MS indicate the impact of pCO2. Primary polyp juvenile Sr/Ca ratio indicates a bias in reconstructed sea surface temperature (SST under higher pCO2 conditions. Coral microstructure content changes (center of calcification and fasciculi due to OA possibly contributed to the variability in B/Ca ratios. Our results imply that increasing OA and OW may lead to coral acclimation issues and species-specific inaccuracies of the commonly used Sr/Ca-SST proxy.

  11. Utilization of Mucus from the Coral Acropora palmata by the Pathogen Serratia marcescens and by Environmental and Coral Commensal Bacteria▿ †

    Science.gov (United States)

    Krediet, Cory J.; Ritchie, Kim B.; Cohen, Matthew; Lipp, Erin K.; Sutherland, Kathryn Patterson; Teplitski, Max

    2009-01-01

    In recent years, diseases of corals caused by opportunistic pathogens have become widespread. How opportunistic pathogens establish on coral surfaces, interact with native microbiota, and cause disease is not yet clear. This study compared the utilization of coral mucus by coral-associated commensal bacteria (“Photobacterium mandapamensis” and Halomonas meridiana) and by opportunistic Serratia marcescens pathogens. S. marcescens PDL100 (a pathogen associated with white pox disease of Acroporid corals) grew to higher population densities on components of mucus from the host coral. In an in vitro coculture on mucus from Acropora palmata, S. marcescens PDL100 isolates outgrew coral isolates. The white pox pathogen did not differ from other bacteria in growth on mucus from a nonhost coral, Montastraea faveolata. The ability of S. marcescens to cause disease in acroporid corals may be due, at least in part, to the ability of strain PDL100 to build to higher population numbers within the mucus surface layer of its acroporid host. During growth on mucus from A. palmata, similar glycosidase activities were present in coral commensal bacteria, in S. marcescens PDL100, and in environmental and human isolates of S. marcescens. The temporal regulation of these activities during growth on mucus, however, was distinct in the isolates. During early stages of growth on mucus, enzymatic activities in S. marcescens PDL100 were most similar to those in coral commensals. After overnight incubation on mucus, enzymatic activities in a white pox pathogen were most similar to those in pathogenic Serratia strains isolated from human mucosal surfaces. PMID:19395569

  12. Application of the coral health chart to determine bleaching status of Acropora downingi in a subtropical coral reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Oladi, Mahshid; Shokri, Mohammad Reza; Rajabi-Maham, Hassan

    2017-06-01

    The `Coral Health Chart' has become a popular tool for monitoring coral bleaching worldwide. The scleractinian coral Acropora downingi (Wallace 1999) is highly vulnerable to temperature anomalies in the Persian Gulf. Our study tested the reliability of Coral Health Chart scores for the assessment of bleaching-related changes in the mitotic index (MI) and density of zooxanthellae cells in A. downingi in Qeshm Island, the Persian Gulf. The results revealed that, at least under severe conditions, it can be used as an effective proxy for detecting changes in the density of normal, transparent, or degraded zooxanthellae and MI. However, its ability to discern changes in pigment concentration and total zooxanthellae density should be viewed with some caution in the Gulf region, probably because the high levels of environmental variability in this region result in inherent variations in the characteristics of zooxanthellae among "healthy" looking corals.

  13. Genetic Susceptibility, Colony Size, and Water Temperature Drive White-Pox Disease on the Coral Acropora palmata

    OpenAIRE

    Muller, Erinn M.; van Woesik, Robert

    2014-01-01

    Outbreaks of coral diseases are one of the greatest threats to reef corals in the Caribbean, yet the mechanisms that lead to coral diseases are still largely unknown. Here we examined the spatial-temporal dynamics of white-pox disease on Acropora palmata coral colonies of known genotypes. We took a Bayesian approach, using Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation algorithms, to examine which covariates influenced the presence of white-pox disease over seven years. We showed that colony size, g...

  14. Gene expression in the scleractinian Acropora microphthalma exposed to high solar irradiance reveals elements of photoprotection and coral bleaching.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Starcevic, Antonio; Dunlap, Walter C; Cullum, John; Shick, J Malcolm; Hranueli, Daslav; Long, Paul F

    2010-11-12

    The success of tropical reef-building corals depends on the metabolic co-operation between the animal host and the photosynthetic performance of endosymbiotic algae residing within its cells. To examine the molecular response of the coral Acropora microphthalma to high levels of solar irradiance, a cDNA library was constructed by PCR-based suppression subtractive hybridisation (PCR-SSH) from mRNA obtained by transplantation of a colony from a depth of 12.7 m to near-surface solar irradiance, during which the coral became noticeably paler from loss of endosymbionts in sun-exposed tissues. A novel approach to sequence annotation of the cDNA library gave genetic evidence for a hypothetical biosynthetic pathway branching from the shikimic acid pathway that leads to the formation of 4-deoxygadusol. This metabolite is a potent antioxidant and expected precursor of the UV-protective mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs), which serve as sunscreens in coral phototrophic symbiosis. Empirical PCR based evidence further upholds the contention that the biosynthesis of these MAA sunscreens is a 'shared metabolic adaptation' between the symbiotic partners. Additionally, gene expression induced by enhanced solar irradiance reveals a cellular mechanism of light-induced coral bleaching that invokes a Ca(2+)-binding synaptotagmin-like regulator of SNARE protein assembly of phagosomal exocytosis, whereby algal partners are lost from the symbiosis. Bioinformatics analyses of DNA sequences obtained by differential gene expression of a coral exposed to high solar irradiance has revealed the identification of putative genes encoding key steps of the MAA biosynthetic pathway. Revealed also by this treatment are genes that implicate exocytosis as a cellular process contributing to a breakdown in the metabolically essential partnership between the coral host and endosymbiotic algae, which manifests as coral bleaching.

  15. Gene expression in the scleractinian Acropora microphthalma exposed to high solar irradiance reveals elements of photoprotection and coral bleaching.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Antonio Starcevic

    2010-11-01

    Full Text Available The success of tropical reef-building corals depends on the metabolic co-operation between the animal host and the photosynthetic performance of endosymbiotic algae residing within its cells. To examine the molecular response of the coral Acropora microphthalma to high levels of solar irradiance, a cDNA library was constructed by PCR-based suppression subtractive hybridisation (PCR-SSH from mRNA obtained by transplantation of a colony from a depth of 12.7 m to near-surface solar irradiance, during which the coral became noticeably paler from loss of endosymbionts in sun-exposed tissues.A novel approach to sequence annotation of the cDNA library gave genetic evidence for a hypothetical biosynthetic pathway branching from the shikimic acid pathway that leads to the formation of 4-deoxygadusol. This metabolite is a potent antioxidant and expected precursor of the UV-protective mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs, which serve as sunscreens in coral phototrophic symbiosis. Empirical PCR based evidence further upholds the contention that the biosynthesis of these MAA sunscreens is a 'shared metabolic adaptation' between the symbiotic partners. Additionally, gene expression induced by enhanced solar irradiance reveals a cellular mechanism of light-induced coral bleaching that invokes a Ca(2+-binding synaptotagmin-like regulator of SNARE protein assembly of phagosomal exocytosis, whereby algal partners are lost from the symbiosis.Bioinformatics analyses of DNA sequences obtained by differential gene expression of a coral exposed to high solar irradiance has revealed the identification of putative genes encoding key steps of the MAA biosynthetic pathway. Revealed also by this treatment are genes that implicate exocytosis as a cellular process contributing to a breakdown in the metabolically essential partnership between the coral host and endosymbiotic algae, which manifests as coral bleaching.

  16. Development and heat stress-induced transcriptomic changes during embryogenesis of the scleractinian coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Portune, Kevin J; Voolstra, Christian R; Medina, Mónica; Szmant, Alina M

    2010-03-01

    Projected elevation of seawater temperatures poses a threat to the reproductive success of Caribbean reef-building corals that have planktonic development during the warmest months of the year. This study examined the transcriptomic changes that occurred during embryonic and larval development of the elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, at a non-stressful temperature (28°C) and further assessed the effects of two elevated temperatures (30°C and 31.5°C) on these expression patterns. Using cDNA microarrays, we compared expression levels of 2051 genes from early embryos and larvae at multiple developmental stages (including pre-blastula, blastula, gastrula, and planula stages) at each of the three temperatures. At 12h post-fertilization in 28°C treatments, genes involved in cell replication/cell division and transcription were up-regulated in A. palmata embryos, followed by a reduction in expression of these genes during later growth stages. From 24.5 to 131h post-fertilization at 28°C, A. palmata altered its transcriptome by up-regulating genes involved in protein synthesis and metabolism. Temperatures of 30°C and 31.5°C caused major changes to the A. palmata embryonic transcriptomes, particularly in the samples from 24.5hpf post-fertilization, characterized by down-regulation of numerous genes involved in cell replication/cell division, metabolism, cytoskeleton, and transcription, while heat shock genes were up-regulated compared to 28°C treatments. These results suggest that increased temperature may cause a breakdown in proper gene expression during development in A. palmata by down-regulation of genes involved in essential cellular processes, which may lead to the abnormal development and reduced survivorship documented in other studies. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

  17. Development and heat stress-induced transcriptomic changes during embryogenesis of the scleractinian coral Acropora palmata

    KAUST Repository

    Portune, Kevin J.

    2010-03-01

    Projected elevation of seawater temperatures poses a threat to the reproductive success of Caribbean reef-building corals that have planktonic development during the warmest months of the year. This study examined the transcriptomic changes that occurred during embryonic and larval development of the elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, at a non-stressful temperature (28 °C) and further assessed the effects of two elevated temperatures (30 °C and 31.5 °C) on these expression patterns. Using cDNA microarrays, we compared expression levels of 2051 genes from early embryos and larvae at multiple developmental stages (including pre-blastula, blastula, gastrula, and planula stages) at each of the three temperatures. At 12 h post-fertilization in 28 °C treatments, genes involved in cell replication/cell division and transcription were up-regulated in A. palmata embryos, followed by a reduction in expression of these genes during later growth stages. From 24.5 to 131 h post-fertilization at 28 °C, A. palmata altered its transcriptome by up-regulating genes involved in protein synthesis and metabolism. Temperatures of 30 °C and 31.5 °C caused major changes to the A. palmata embryonic transcriptomes, particularly in the samples from 24.5 hpf post-fertilization, characterized by down-regulation of numerous genes involved in cell replication/cell division, metabolism, cytoskeleton, and transcription, while heat shock genes were up-regulated compared to 28 °C treatments. These results suggest that increased temperature may cause a breakdown in proper gene expression during development in A. palmata by down-regulation of genes involved in essential cellular processes, which may lead to the abnormal development and reduced survivorship documented in other studies. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

  18. Additive effects of the herbicide glyphosate and elevated temperature on the branched coral Acropora formosa in Nha Trang, Vietnam

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Amid, C.; Olstedt, M.; Gunnarsson, J.S.; Lan, Le H.; Tran Thi Minh, H.; Brink, van den P.J.; Hellström, M.; Tedengren, M.

    2017-01-01

    The combined effects of the herbicide glyphosate and elevated temperature were studied on the tropical staghorn coral Acropora formosa, in Nha Trang bay, Vietnam. The corals were collected from two different reefs, one close to a polluted fish farm and one in a marine-protected area (MPA). In the

  19. Neogene reef coral assemblages of the Bocas del Toro region, Panama: the rise of Acropora palmata

    Science.gov (United States)

    Klaus, J. S.; McNeill, D. F.; Budd, A. F.; Coates, A. G.

    2012-03-01

    Temporal patterns are evaluated in Neogene reef coral assemblages from the Bocas del Toro Basin of Panama in order to understand how reef ecosystems respond to long-term environmental change. Analyses are based on a total of 1,702 zooxanthellate coral specimens collected from six coral-bearing units ranging in age from the earliest Late Miocene to the Early Pleistocene: (1) Valiente Formation (12-11 Ma), (2) Fish Hole Member of the Old Bank Formation (5.8-5.6 Ma), (3) La Gruta Member of the Isla Colon Formation (2.2-1.4 Ma), (4) Ground Creek Member of the Isla Colon Formation (2.2-1.4 Ma), (5) Mimitimbi Member of the Urracá Formation (1.2-0.8 Ma), and (6) Hill Point Member of the Urracá Formation (1.2-0.8 Ma). Over 100 coral species occur in the six units, with faunal assemblages ranging from less than 10% extant taxa (Valiente Formation) to over 85% extant taxa (Ground Creek Member). The collections provide new temporal constraints on the emergence of modern Caribbean reefs, with the La Gruta Member containing the earliest occurrence of large monospecific stands of the dominant Caribbean reef coral Acropora palmata, and the Urracá Formation containing the last fossil occurrences of 15 regionally extinct taxa. Canonical correspondence analysis of 41 Late Miocene to Recent reef coral assemblages from the Caribbean region suggests changes in community structure coincident with effective oceanic closure of the Central American Seaway (~3.5 Ma). These changes, including increased Acropora dominance, may have contributed to a protracted period of elevated extinction debt prior to the major peak in regional coral extinctions (~2-1 Ma).

  20. Pathology of tissue loss (white syndrome) in Acropora sp. corals from the Central Pacific

    Science.gov (United States)

    Work, Thierry M.; Aeby, Greta S.

    2011-01-01

    We performed histological examination of 69 samples of Acropora sp. manifesting different types of tissue loss (Acropora White Syndrome-AWS) from Hawaii, Johnston Atoll and American Samoa between 2002 and 2006. Gross lesions of tissue loss were observed and classified as diffuse acute, diffuse subacute, and focal to multifocal acute to subacute. Corals with acute tissue loss manifested microscopic evidence of necrosis sometimes associated with ciliates, helminths, fungi, algae, sponges, or cyanobacteria whereas those with subacute tissue loss manifested mainly wound repair. Gross lesions of AWS have multiple different changes at the microscopic level some of which involve various microorganisms and metazoa. Elucidating this disease will require, among other things, monitoring lesions over time to determine the pathogenesis of AWS and the potential role of tissue-associated microorganisms in the genesis of tissue loss. Attempts to experimentally induce AWS should include microscopic examination of tissues to ensure that potentially causative microorganisms associated with gross lesion are not overlooked.

  1. Global warming and coral reefs: modelling the effect of temperature on Acropora palmata colony growth.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Crabbe, M James C

    2007-08-01

    Data on colony growth of the branching coral Acropora palmata from fringing reefs off Discovery Bay on the north coast of Jamaica have been obtained over the period 2002-2007 using underwater photography and image analysis by both SCUBA and remotely using an ROV incorporating twin lasers. Growth modelling shows that while logarithmic growth is an approximate model for growth, a 3:3 rational polynomial function provides a significantly better fit to growth data for this coral species. Over the period 2002-2007, involving several cycles of sea surface temperature (SST) change, the rate of growth of A. palmata was largely proportional to rate of change of SST, with R(2)=0.935. These results have implications for the influence of global warming and climate change on coral reef ecosystems.

  2. Plasticity in skeletal characteristics of nursery-raised staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Bartels, Erich; Stathakopoulos, Anastasios; Enochs, Ian C.; Kolodziej, G.; Toth, Lauren T.; Manzello, Derek P.

    2017-09-01

    Staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, is a threatened species and the primary focus of western Atlantic reef restoration efforts to date. We compared linear extension, calcification rate, and skeletal density of nursery-raised A. cervicornis branches reared for 6 months either on blocks attached to substratum or hanging from PVC trees in the water column. We demonstrate that branches grown on the substratum had significantly higher skeletal density, measured using computerized tomography, and lower linear extension rates compared to water-column fragments. Calcification rates determined with buoyant weighing were not statistically different between the two grow-out methods, but did vary among coral genotypes. Whereas skeletal density and extension rates were plastic traits that depended on grow-out method, calcification rate was conserved. Our results show that the two rearing methods generate the same amount of calcium carbonate skeleton but produce colonies with different skeletal characteristics and suggest that there is genetically based variability in coral calcification performance.

  3. Fast growth may impair regeneration capacity in the branching coral Acropora muricata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Denis, Vianney; Guillaume, Mireille M M; Goutx, Madeleine; de Palmas, Stéphane; Debreuil, Julien; Baker, Andrew C; Boonstra, Roxane K; Bruggemann, J Henrich

    2013-01-01

    Regeneration of artificially induced lesions was monitored in nubbins of the branching coral Acropora muricata at two reef-flat sites representing contrasting environments at Réunion Island (21°07'S, 55°32'E). Growth of these injured nubbins was examined in parallel, and compared to controls. Biochemical compositions of the holobiont and the zooxanthellae density were determined at the onset of the experiment, and the photosynthetic efficiency (Fv/Fm ) of zooxanthellae was monitored during the experiment. Acropora muricata rapidly regenerated small lesions, but regeneration rates significantly differed between sites. At the sheltered site characterized by high temperatures, temperature variations, and irradiance levels, regeneration took 192 days on average. At the exposed site, characterized by steadier temperatures and lower irradiation, nubbins demonstrated fast lesion repair (81 days), slower growth, lower zooxanthellae density, chlorophyll a concentration and lipid content than at the former site. A trade-off between growth and regeneration rates was evident here. High growth rates seem to impair regeneration capacity. We show that environmental conditions conducive to high zooxanthellae densities in corals are related to fast skeletal growth but also to reduced lesion regeneration rates. We hypothesize that a lowered regenerative capacity may be related to limited availability of energetic and cellular resources, consequences of coral holobionts operating at high levels of photosynthesis and associated growth.

  4. Fast growth may impair regeneration capacity in the branching coral Acropora muricata.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Vianney Denis

    Full Text Available Regeneration of artificially induced lesions was monitored in nubbins of the branching coral Acropora muricata at two reef-flat sites representing contrasting environments at Réunion Island (21°07'S, 55°32'E. Growth of these injured nubbins was examined in parallel, and compared to controls. Biochemical compositions of the holobiont and the zooxanthellae density were determined at the onset of the experiment, and the photosynthetic efficiency (Fv/Fm of zooxanthellae was monitored during the experiment. Acropora muricata rapidly regenerated small lesions, but regeneration rates significantly differed between sites. At the sheltered site characterized by high temperatures, temperature variations, and irradiance levels, regeneration took 192 days on average. At the exposed site, characterized by steadier temperatures and lower irradiation, nubbins demonstrated fast lesion repair (81 days, slower growth, lower zooxanthellae density, chlorophyll a concentration and lipid content than at the former site. A trade-off between growth and regeneration rates was evident here. High growth rates seem to impair regeneration capacity. We show that environmental conditions conducive to high zooxanthellae densities in corals are related to fast skeletal growth but also to reduced lesion regeneration rates. We hypothesize that a lowered regenerative capacity may be related to limited availability of energetic and cellular resources, consequences of coral holobionts operating at high levels of photosynthesis and associated growth.

  5. Spawning and fertility of F1 hybrids of the coral genus Acropora in the Indo-Pacific

    Science.gov (United States)

    Isomura, Naoko; Iwao, Kenji; Morita, Masaya; Fukami, Hironobu

    2016-09-01

    The role of hybridization through multi-specific synchronous spawning in the evolution of reef-building corals has been discussed since the 1990s, particularly for the genus Acropora. However, F1 hybrids have been reported as common in only one case in the Caribbean, with no evidence of mechanisms that would allow continuous reproduction of the hybrids. In this study, we report for the first time the fecundity of two F1 hybrid colonies produced experimentally from two Indo-Pacific species, A. intermedia and A. florida. These F1 hybrids spawned at the same time as the parental corals. Backcrossing and F1 hybrid crossing were successful in both directions. Furthermore, more than 90% self-fertilization was achieved in an F1 hybrid, although it was negligible in the parental corals. While it is possible that the F1 hybrid was a chimera, these results suggest that some products of interspecific hybridization may persist as the offspring of self-fertilizing F1 hybrids.

  6. U-Th dating reveals regional-scale decline of branching Acropora corals on the Great Barrier Reef over the past century

    Science.gov (United States)

    Clark, Tara R.; Roff, George; Zhao, Jian-xin; Feng, Yue-xing; Done, Terence J.; McCook, Laurence J.; Pandolfi, John M.

    2017-09-01

    Hard coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is on a trajectory of decline. However, little is known about past coral mortality before the advent of long-term monitoring (circa 1980s). Using paleoecological analysis and high-precision uranium-thorium (U-Th) dating, we reveal an extensive loss of branching Acropora corals and changes in coral community structure in the Palm Islands region of the central GBR over the past century. In 2008, dead coral assemblages were dominated by large, branching Acropora and living coral assemblages by genera typically found in turbid inshore environments. The timing of Acropora mortality was found to be occasionally synchronous among reefs and frequently linked to discrete disturbance events, occurring in the 1920s to 1960s and again in the 1980s to 1990s. Surveys conducted in 2014 revealed low Acropora cover (shifted baseline.

  7. Gene expression patterns of the coral Acropora millepora in response to contact with macroalgae

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shearer, T. L.; Rasher, D. B.; Snell, T. W.; Hay, M. E.

    2012-12-01

    Contact with macroalgae often causes coral mortality, but the roles of abrasion versus shading versus allelopathy in these interactions are rarely clear, and effects on gene expression are unknown. Identification of gene expression changes within corals in response to contact with macroalgae can provide insight into the mode of action of allelochemicals, as well as reveal transcriptional strategies of the coral that mitigate damage from this competitive interaction, enabling the coral to survive. Gene expression responses of the coral Acropora millepora after long-term (20 days) direct contact with macroalgae ( Chlorodesmis fastigiata, Dictyota bartayresiana, Galaxaura filamentosa, and Turbinaria conoides) and short-term (1 and 24 h) exposure to C. fastigiata thalli and their hydrophobic extract were assessed. After 20 days of exposure, T. conoides thalli elicited no significant change in visual bleaching or zooxanthellae PSII quantum yield within A. millepora nubbins, but stimulated the greatest alteration in gene expression of all treatments. Chlorodesmis fastigiata, D. bartayresiana, and G. filamentosa caused significant visual bleaching of coral nubbins and reduced the PSII quantum yield of associated zooxanthellae after 20 days, but elicited fewer changes in gene expression relative to T. conoides at day 20. To evaluate initial molecular processes leading to reduction of zooxanthella PSII quantum yield, visual bleaching, and coral death, short-term exposures to C. fastigiata thalli and hydrophobic extracts were conducted; these interactions revealed protein degradation and significant changes in catalytic and metabolic activity within 24 h of contact. These molecular responses are consistent with the hypothesis that allelopathic interactions lead to alteration of signal transduction and an imbalance between reactive oxidant species production and antioxidant capabilities within the coral holobiont. This oxidative imbalance results in rapid protein degradation

  8. Human pathogen shown to cause disease in the threatened eklhorn coral Acropora palmata.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Kathryn Patterson Sutherland

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are in severe decline. Infections by the human pathogen Serratia marcescens have contributed to precipitous losses in the common Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, culminating in its listing under the United States Endangered Species Act. During a 2003 outbreak of this coral disease, called acroporid serratiosis (APS, a unique strain of the pathogen, Serratia marcescens strain PDR60, was identified from diseased A. palmata, human wastewater, the non-host coral Siderastrea siderea and the corallivorous snail Coralliophila abbreviata. In order to examine humans as a source and other marine invertebrates as vectors and/or reservoirs of the APS pathogen, challenge experiments were conducted with A. palmata maintained in closed aquaria to determine infectivity of strain PDR60 from reef and wastewater sources. Strain PDR60 from wastewater and diseased A. palmata caused disease signs in elkhorn coral in as little as four and five days, respectively, demonstrating that wastewater is a definitive source of APS and identifying human strain PDR60 as a coral pathogen through fulfillment of Koch's postulates. A. palmata inoculated with strain PDR60 from C. abbreviata showed limited virulence, with one of three inoculated fragments developing APS signs within 13 days. Strain PDR60 from non-host coral S. siderea showed a delayed pathogenic effect, with disease signs developing within an average of 20 days. These results suggest that C. abbreviata and non-host corals may function as reservoirs or vectors of the APS pathogen. Our results provide the first example of a marine "reverse zoonosis" involving the transmission of a human pathogen (S. marcescens to a marine invertebrate (A. palmata. These findings underscore the interaction between public health practices and environmental health indices such as coral reef survival.

  9. Human pathogen shown to cause disease in the threatened eklhorn coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sutherland, Kathryn Patterson; Shaban, Sameera; Joyner, Jessica L; Porter, James W; Lipp, Erin K

    2011-01-01

    Coral reefs are in severe decline. Infections by the human pathogen Serratia marcescens have contributed to precipitous losses in the common Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, culminating in its listing under the United States Endangered Species Act. During a 2003 outbreak of this coral disease, called acroporid serratiosis (APS), a unique strain of the pathogen, Serratia marcescens strain PDR60, was identified from diseased A. palmata, human wastewater, the non-host coral Siderastrea siderea and the corallivorous snail Coralliophila abbreviata. In order to examine humans as a source and other marine invertebrates as vectors and/or reservoirs of the APS pathogen, challenge experiments were conducted with A. palmata maintained in closed aquaria to determine infectivity of strain PDR60 from reef and wastewater sources. Strain PDR60 from wastewater and diseased A. palmata caused disease signs in elkhorn coral in as little as four and five days, respectively, demonstrating that wastewater is a definitive source of APS and identifying human strain PDR60 as a coral pathogen through fulfillment of Koch's postulates. A. palmata inoculated with strain PDR60 from C. abbreviata showed limited virulence, with one of three inoculated fragments developing APS signs within 13 days. Strain PDR60 from non-host coral S. siderea showed a delayed pathogenic effect, with disease signs developing within an average of 20 days. These results suggest that C. abbreviata and non-host corals may function as reservoirs or vectors of the APS pathogen. Our results provide the first example of a marine "reverse zoonosis" involving the transmission of a human pathogen (S. marcescens) to a marine invertebrate (A. palmata). These findings underscore the interaction between public health practices and environmental health indices such as coral reef survival.

  10. Expression of putative immune response genes during early ontogeny in the coral Acropora millepora.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Eneour Puill-Stephan

    Full Text Available Corals, like many other marine invertebrates, lack a mature allorecognition system in early life history stages. Indeed, in early ontogeny, when corals acquire and establish associations with various surface microbiota and dinoflagellate endosymbionts, they do not efficiently distinguish between closely and distantly related individuals from the same population. However, very little is known about the molecular components that underpin allorecognition and immunity responses or how they change through early ontogeny in corals.Patterns in the expression of four putative immune response genes (apextrin, complement C3, and two CELIII type lectin genes were examined in juvenile colonies of Acropora millepora throughout a six-month post-settlement period using quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR. Expression of a CELIII type lectin gene peaked in the fourth month for most of the coral juveniles sampled and was significantly higher at this time than at any other sampling time during the six months following settlement. The timing of this increase in expression levels of putative immune response genes may be linked to allorecognition maturation which occurs around this time in A. millepora. Alternatively, the increase may represent a response to immune challenges, such as would be involved in the recognition of symbionts (such as Symbiodinium spp. or bacteria during winnowing processes as symbioses are fine-tuned.Our data, although preliminary, are consistent with the hypothesis that lectins may play an important role in the maturation of allorecognition responses in corals. The co-expression of lectins with apextrin during development of coral juveniles also raises the possibility that these proteins, which are components of innate immunity in other invertebrates, may influence the innate immune systems of corals through a common pathway or system. However, further studies investigating the expression of these genes in alloimmune-challenged corals are

  11. Expression of putative immune response genes during early ontogeny in the coral Acropora millepora.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Puill-Stephan, Eneour; Seneca, François O; Miller, David J; van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Willis, Bette L

    2012-01-01

    Corals, like many other marine invertebrates, lack a mature allorecognition system in early life history stages. Indeed, in early ontogeny, when corals acquire and establish associations with various surface microbiota and dinoflagellate endosymbionts, they do not efficiently distinguish between closely and distantly related individuals from the same population. However, very little is known about the molecular components that underpin allorecognition and immunity responses or how they change through early ontogeny in corals. Patterns in the expression of four putative immune response genes (apextrin, complement C3, and two CELIII type lectin genes) were examined in juvenile colonies of Acropora millepora throughout a six-month post-settlement period using quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). Expression of a CELIII type lectin gene peaked in the fourth month for most of the coral juveniles sampled and was significantly higher at this time than at any other sampling time during the six months following settlement. The timing of this increase in expression levels of putative immune response genes may be linked to allorecognition maturation which occurs around this time in A. millepora. Alternatively, the increase may represent a response to immune challenges, such as would be involved in the recognition of symbionts (such as Symbiodinium spp. or bacteria) during winnowing processes as symbioses are fine-tuned. Our data, although preliminary, are consistent with the hypothesis that lectins may play an important role in the maturation of allorecognition responses in corals. The co-expression of lectins with apextrin during development of coral juveniles also raises the possibility that these proteins, which are components of innate immunity in other invertebrates, may influence the innate immune systems of corals through a common pathway or system. However, further studies investigating the expression of these genes in alloimmune-challenged corals are needed to further

  12. Proteomic analysis of bleached and unbleached Acropora palmata, a threatened coral species of the Caribbean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ricaurte, Martha; Schizas, Nikolaos V; Ciborowski, Pawel; Boukli, Nawal M

    2016-06-15

    There has been an increase in the scale and frequency of coral bleaching around the world due mainly to changes in sea temperature. This may occur at large scales, often resulting in significant decline in coral coverage. In order to understand the molecular and cellular basis of the ever-increasing incidence of coral bleaching, we have undertaken a comparative proteomic approach with the endangered Caribbean coral Acropora palmata. Using a proteomic tandem mass spectrometry approach, we identified 285 and 321 expressed protein signatures in bleached and unbleached A. palmata colonies, respectively, in southwestern Puerto Rico. Overall the expression level of 38 key proteins was significantly different between bleached and unbleached corals. A wide range of proteins was detected and categorized, including transcription factors involved mainly in heat stress/UV responses, immunity, apoptosis, biomineralization, the cytoskeleton, and endo-exophagocytosis. The results suggest that for bleached A. palmata, there was an induced differential protein expression response compared with those colonies that did not bleach under the same environmental conditions. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

  13. Genetic diversity and connectivity in the threatened staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis in Florida.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Elizabeth M Hemond

    2010-01-01

    Full Text Available Over the past three decades, populations of the dominant shallow water Caribbean corals, Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, have been devastated by white-band disease (WBD, resulting in the listing of both species as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. A key to conserving these threatened corals is understanding how their populations are genetically interconnected throughout the greater Caribbean. Genetic research has demonstrated that gene flow is regionally restricted across the Caribbean in both species. Yet, despite being an important site of coral reef research, little genetic data has been available for the Florida Acropora, especially for the staghorn coral, A. cervicornis. In this study, we present new mitochondrial DNA sequence data from 52 A. cervicornis individuals from 22 sites spread across the upper and lower Florida Keys, which suggest that Florida's A. cervicornis populations are highly genetically interconnected (F(ST = -0.081. Comparison between Florida and existing mtDNA data from six regional Caribbean populations indicates that Florida possesses high levels of standing genetic diversity (h = 0.824 relative to the rest of the greater Caribbean (h = 0.701+/-0.043. We find that the contemporary level of gene flow across the greater Caribbean, including Florida, is restricted (Phi(CT = 0.117, but evidence from shared haplotypes suggests the Western Caribbean has historically been a source of genetic variation for Florida. Despite the current patchiness of A. cervicornis in Florida, the relatively high genetic diversity and connectivity within Florida suggest that this population may have sufficient genetic variation to be viable and resilient to environmental perturbation and disease. Limited genetic exchange across regional populations of the greater Caribbean, including Florida, indicates that conservation efforts for A. cervicornis should focus on maintaining and managing populations locally rather than

  14. Genetic diversity and connectivity in the threatened staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) in Florida.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hemond, Elizabeth M; Vollmer, Steven V

    2010-01-11

    Over the past three decades, populations of the dominant shallow water Caribbean corals, Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, have been devastated by white-band disease (WBD), resulting in the listing of both species as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. A key to conserving these threatened corals is understanding how their populations are genetically interconnected throughout the greater Caribbean. Genetic research has demonstrated that gene flow is regionally restricted across the Caribbean in both species. Yet, despite being an important site of coral reef research, little genetic data has been available for the Florida Acropora, especially for the staghorn coral, A. cervicornis. In this study, we present new mitochondrial DNA sequence data from 52 A. cervicornis individuals from 22 sites spread across the upper and lower Florida Keys, which suggest that Florida's A. cervicornis populations are highly genetically interconnected (F(ST) = -0.081). Comparison between Florida and existing mtDNA data from six regional Caribbean populations indicates that Florida possesses high levels of standing genetic diversity (h = 0.824) relative to the rest of the greater Caribbean (h = 0.701+/-0.043). We find that the contemporary level of gene flow across the greater Caribbean, including Florida, is restricted (Phi(CT) = 0.117), but evidence from shared haplotypes suggests the Western Caribbean has historically been a source of genetic variation for Florida. Despite the current patchiness of A. cervicornis in Florida, the relatively high genetic diversity and connectivity within Florida suggest that this population may have sufficient genetic variation to be viable and resilient to environmental perturbation and disease. Limited genetic exchange across regional populations of the greater Caribbean, including Florida, indicates that conservation efforts for A. cervicornis should focus on maintaining and managing populations locally rather than relying on larval

  15. Sr/Ca-Sea surface temperature calibration in the branching Caribbean coral Acropora palmata

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gallup, Christina D.; Olson, Donna M.; Edwards, R. Lawrence; Gruhn, Leah M.; Winter, Amos; Taylor, Frederick W.

    2006-02-01

    We measured Sr/Ca ratios by thermal ionization mass spectrometry in radial and axial growth of modern Caribbean Acropora palmata corals. Comparison of our results with sea surface temperature (SST) allows radial and axial Sr/Ca-SST calibrations of Sr/Ca (mmol/mol) = 11.30 - 0.07072 × SST (°C) and Sr/Ca (mmol/mol) = 11.32 - 0.06281 x SST (°C), respectively. Application of the calibrations to fossil Acropora palmata from the last glacial maximum in Barbados (Guilderson et al., 1994) imply ~7°C cooler conditions than the present, much larger than the 1-1.5° cooling suggested by modern analog technique foraminifera-based estimates (Trend-Staid and Prell, 2002). If the foraminifera-based estimates are correct, then the excess cooling suggested by the Barbados corals could be explained by a 5% shift in the marine Sr/Ca ratio or an addition of ~20% abiotic secondary aragonite.

  16. Restoration of critically endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) populations using larvae reared from wild-caught gametes

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Chamberland, V.F.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Brittsan, M.; Carl, M.; Schick, M.; Snowden, S.; Schrier, A.; Petersen, D.

    2015-01-01

    Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) populations provide important ecological functions on shallow Caribbean reefs, many of which were lost when a disease reduced their abundance by more than 95% beginning in the mid-1970s. Since then, a lack of significant recovery has prompted rehabilitation

  17. Gene discovery in the threatened elkhorn coral: 454 sequencing of the Acropora palmata transcriptome.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nicholas R Polato

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Cnidarians, including corals and anemones, offer unique insights into metazoan evolution because they harbor genetic similarities with vertebrates beyond that found in model invertebrates and retain genes known only from non-metazoans. Cataloging genes expressed in Acropora palmata, a foundation-species of reefs in the Caribbean and western Atlantic, will advance our understanding of the genetic basis of ecologically important traits in corals and comes at a time when sequencing efforts in other cnidarians allow for multi-species comparisons. RESULTS: A cDNA library from a sample enriched for symbiont free larval tissue was sequenced on the 454 GS-FLX platform. Over 960,000 reads were obtained and assembled into 42,630 contigs. Annotation data was acquired for 57% of the assembled sequences. Analysis of the assembled sequences indicated that 83-100% of all A. palmata transcripts were tagged, and provided a rough estimate of the total number genes expressed in our samples (~18,000-20,000. The coral annotation data contained many of the same molecular components as in the Bilateria, particularly in pathways associated with oxidative stress and DNA damage repair, and provided evidence that homologs of p53, a key player in DNA repair pathways, has experienced selection along the branch separating Cnidaria and Bilateria. Transcriptome wide screens of paralog groups and transition/transversion ratios highlighted genes including: green fluorescent proteins, carbonic anhydrase, and oxidative stress proteins; and functional groups involved in protein and nucleic acid metabolism, and the formation of structural molecules. These results provide a starting point for study of adaptive evolution in corals. CONCLUSIONS: Currently available transcriptome data now make comparative studies of the mechanisms underlying coral's evolutionary success possible. Here we identified candidate genes that enable corals to maintain genomic integrity despite

  18. Gene discovery in the threatened elkhorn coral: 454 sequencing of the Acropora palmata transcriptome.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Polato, Nicholas R; Vera, J Cristobal; Baums, Iliana B

    2011-01-01

    Cnidarians, including corals and anemones, offer unique insights into metazoan evolution because they harbor genetic similarities with vertebrates beyond that found in model invertebrates and retain genes known only from non-metazoans. Cataloging genes expressed in Acropora palmata, a foundation-species of reefs in the Caribbean and western Atlantic, will advance our understanding of the genetic basis of ecologically important traits in corals and comes at a time when sequencing efforts in other cnidarians allow for multi-species comparisons. A cDNA library from a sample enriched for symbiont free larval tissue was sequenced on the 454 GS-FLX platform. Over 960,000 reads were obtained and assembled into 42,630 contigs. Annotation data was acquired for 57% of the assembled sequences. Analysis of the assembled sequences indicated that 83-100% of all A. palmata transcripts were tagged, and provided a rough estimate of the total number genes expressed in our samples (~18,000-20,000). The coral annotation data contained many of the same molecular components as in the Bilateria, particularly in pathways associated with oxidative stress and DNA damage repair, and provided evidence that homologs of p53, a key player in DNA repair pathways, has experienced selection along the branch separating Cnidaria and Bilateria. Transcriptome wide screens of paralog groups and transition/transversion ratios highlighted genes including: green fluorescent proteins, carbonic anhydrase, and oxidative stress proteins; and functional groups involved in protein and nucleic acid metabolism, and the formation of structural molecules. These results provide a starting point for study of adaptive evolution in corals. Currently available transcriptome data now make comparative studies of the mechanisms underlying coral's evolutionary success possible. Here we identified candidate genes that enable corals to maintain genomic integrity despite considerable exposure to genotoxic stress over long life

  19. The skeleton of the staghorn coral Acropora millepora: molecular and structural characterization.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Paula Ramos-Silva

    Full Text Available The scleractinian coral Acropora millepora is one of the most studied species from the Great Barrier Reef. This species has been used to understand evolutionary, immune and developmental processes in cnidarians. It has also been subject of several ecological studies in order to elucidate reef responses to environmental changes such as temperature rise and ocean acidification (OA. In these contexts, several nucleic acid resources were made available. When combined to a recent proteomic analysis of the coral skeletal organic matrix (SOM, they enabled the identification of several skeletal matrix proteins, making A. millepora into an emerging model for biomineralization studies. Here we describe the skeletal microstructure of A. millepora skeleton, together with a functional and biochemical characterization of its occluded SOM that focuses on the protein and saccharidic moieties. The skeletal matrix proteins show a large range of isoelectric points, compositional patterns and signatures. Besides secreted proteins, there are a significant number of proteins with membrane attachment sites such as transmembrane domains and GPI anchors as well as proteins with integrin binding sites. These features show that the skeletal proteins must have strong adhesion properties in order to function in the calcifying space. Moreover this data suggest a molecular connection between the calcifying epithelium and the skeletal tissue during biocalcification. In terms of sugar moieties, the enrichment of the SOM in arabinose is striking, and the monosaccharide composition exhibits the same signature as that of mucus of acroporid corals. Finally, we observe that the interaction of the acetic acid soluble SOM on the morphology of in vitro grown CaCO3 crystals is very pronounced when compared with the calcifying matrices of some mollusks. In light of these results, we wish to commend Acropora millepora as a model for biocalcification studies in scleractinians, from

  20. Cryptobiota associated to dead Acropora palmata (Scleractinia: Acroporidae coral, Isla Grande, Colombian Caribbean

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Silvia K. Moreno-Forero

    1998-06-01

    Full Text Available Cryptobiota of dead fragments of five branches in live position and five fallen pieces of the coral Acropora palmata each one of approximate 1dm3, covered by filamentous algae were extracted from the north reef crest of Isla Grande (Colombian Caribbean, in April 1991. There were three groups of organisms according to size and position (on and within the coral: 1 mobile epibenthos, mainly microcrustaceans that live among the filamentous algae 2 boring microcryptobiota, located in the layer between the epilithic organisms and the coral skeleton itself and, 3 perforating macrocryptobionts that bore and penetrate the coral skeleton. Polychaetes, sipuncu-lids, mollusks and crustaceans were most abundant in the last group. There were no differences in macrocryptobiont composition between standing dead branches and fallen fragments. There was a large variation in total biomass and type and density of macro-cryptobionts, possibly associated to stochastic factors such as placement and thickness of branches and small scale variations in recruitmentLa criptobiota de diez fragmentos coralinos muertos de Acropora palmata, de 10 dm3 cada uno, cubiertos de algas filamentosas, se colectó en abril de 1991en la cresta arrecifal de Isla Grande (Caribe colombiano. Se halló tres grupos: 1 móviles epibentónicos asociados a las algas filamentosas y conformados principalmente por microcrustáceos; 2 microcriptobiontes perforantes, ubicados en la capa intermedia entre los organismos epilíticos y el esqueleto del coral y 3 macrocriptobiontes que perforan todo el cuerpo del esqueleto coralino (principalmente poliquetos, sipuncúlidos, moluscos y crustáceos. No se encontraron diferencias en la composición de los macrocriptobiontes que habitan los corales en posición de vida y los fragmentos caidos sobre el fondo. Se presentó una amplia variación en biomasa total, tipo y densidad de macrocriptobiontes, posiblemente asociada a factores estocásticos tales como la

  1. The microbial biosphere of the coral Acropora cervicornis in Northeastern Puerto Rico

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Filipa Godoy-Vitorino

    2017-08-01

    Full Text Available Background Coral reefs are the most biodiverse ecosystems in the marine realm, and they not only contribute a plethora of ecosystem services to other marine organisms, but they also are beneficial to humankind via, for instance, their role as nurseries for commercially important fish species. Corals are considered holobionts (host + symbionts since they are composed not only of coral polyps, but also algae, other microbial eukaryotes and prokaryotes. In recent years, Caribbean reef corals, including the once-common scleractinian coral Acropora cervicornis, have suffered unprecedented mortality due to climate change-related stressors. Unfortunately, our basic knowledge of the molecular ecophysiology of reef corals, particularly with respect to their complex bacterial microbiota, is currently too poor to project how climate change will affect this species. For instance, we do not know how light influences microbial communities of A. cervicornis, arguably the most endangered of all Caribbean coral species. To this end, we characterized the microbiota of A. cervicornis inhabiting water depths with different light regimes. Methods Six A. cervicornis fragments from different individuals were collected at two different depths (three at 1.5 m and three at 11 m from a reef 3.2 km off the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico. We characterized the microbial communities by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene region V4 with the Illumina platform. Results A total of 173,137 good-quality sequences were binned into 803 OTUs with a 97% similarity. We uncovered eight bacterial phyla at both depths with a dominance of 725 Rickettsiales OTUs (Proteobacteria. A fewer number (38 of low dominance OTUs varied by depth and taxa enriched in shallow water corals included Proteobacteria (e.g. Rhodobacteraceae and Serratia and Firmicutes (Streptococcus. Those enriched in deeper water corals featured different Proteobacterial taxa (Campylobacterales and Bradyrhizobium and Firmicutes

  2. Plasticity in skeletal characteristics of nursery-raised staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kuffner, Ilsa B.; Bartels, Erich; Stathakopoulos, Anastasios; Enochs, Ian C.; Kolodziej, Graham; Toth, Lauren; Manzello, Derek P.

    2017-01-01

    Staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, is a threatened species and the primary focus of western Atlantic reef restoration efforts to date. We compared linear extension, calcification rate, and skeletal density of nursery-raised A. cervicornis branches reared for 6 months either on blocks attached to substratum or hanging from PVC trees in the water column. We demonstrate that branches grown on the substratum had significantly higher skeletal density, measured using computerized tomography, and lower linear extension rates compared to water-column fragments. Calcification rates determined with buoyant weighing were not statistically different between the two grow-out methods, but did vary among coral genotypes. Whereas skeletal density and extension rates were plastic traits that depended on grow-out method, calcification rate was conserved. Our results show that the two rearing methods generate the same amount of calcium carbonate skeleton but produce colonies with different skeletal characteristics and suggest that there is genetically based variability in coral calcification performance.

  3. The northern limit of corals of the genus Acropora in temperate zones is determined by their resilience to cold bleaching.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Higuchi, Tomihiko; Agostini, Sylvain; Casareto, Beatriz Estela; Suzuki, Yoshimi; Yuyama, Ikuko

    2015-12-18

    The distribution of corals in Japan covers a wide range of latitudes, encompassing tropical to temperate zones. However, coral communities in temperate zones contain only a small subset of species. Among the parameters that determine the distribution of corals, temperature plays an important role. We tested the resilience to cold stress of three coral species belonging to the genus Acropora in incubation experiments. Acropora pruinosa, which is the northernmost of the three species, bleached at 13 °C, but recovered once temperatures were increased. The two other species, A. hyacinthus and A. solitaryensis, which has a more southerly range than A. pruinosa, died rapidly after bleaching at 13 °C. The physiological effects of cold bleaching on the corals included decreased rates of photosynthesis, respiration, and calcification, similar to the physiological effects observed with bleaching due to high temperature stress. Contrasting hot bleaching, no increases in antioxidant enzyme activities were observed, suggesting that reactive oxygen species play a less important role in bleaching under cold stress. These results confirmed the importance of resilience to cold stress in determining the distribution and northern limits of coral species, as cold events causing coral bleaching and high mortality occur regularly in temperate zones.

  4. The etiology of white pox, a lethal disease of the Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Patterson, Kathryn L; Porter, James W; Ritchie, Kim B; Polson, Shawn W; Mueller, Erich; Peters, Esther C; Santavy, Deborah L; Smith, Garriet W

    2002-06-25

    Populations of the shallow-water Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, are being decimated by white pox disease, with losses of living cover in the Florida Keys typically in excess of 70%. The rate of tissue loss is rapid, averaging 2.5 cm2 x day(-1), and is greatest during periods of seasonally elevated temperature. In Florida, the spread of white pox fits the contagion model, with nearest neighbors most susceptible to infection. In this report, we identify a common fecal enterobacterium, Serratia marcescens, as the causal agent of white pox. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a bacterial species associated with the human gut has been shown to be a marine invertebrate pathogen.

  5. Density dependence drives habitat production and survivorship of Acropora cervicornis used for restoration on a Caribbean coral reef

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mark C Ladd

    2016-12-01

    Full Text Available AbstractCoral restoration is gaining traction as a viable strategy to help restore degraded reefs. While the nascent field of coral restoration has rapidly progressed in the past decade, significant knowledge gaps remain regarding the drivers of restoration success that may impede our ability to effectively restore coral reef communities. Here, we conducted a field experiment to investigate the influence of coral density on the growth, habitat production, and survival of corals outplanted for restoration. We used nursery-raised colonies of Acropora cervicornis to experimentally establish populations of corals with either 3, 6, 12, or 24 corals within 4m2 plots, generating a gradient of coral densities ranging from 0.75 corals m-2 to 12 corals m-2. After 13 months we found that density had a significant effect on the growth, habitat production, and survivorship of restored corals. We found that coral survivorship increased as colony density decreased. Importantly, the signal of density dependent effects was context dependent. Our data suggest that positive density dependent effects influenced habitat production at densities of 3 corals m-2, but further increases in density resulted in negative density dependent effects with decreasing growth and survivorship of corals. These findings highlight the importance of density dependence for coral restoration planning and demonstrate the need to evaluate the influence of density for other coral species used for restoration. Further work focused on the mechanisms causing density dependence such as increased herbivory, rapid disease transmission, or altered predation rates are important next steps to advance our ability to effectively restore coral reefs.

  6. Induction of larval metamorphosis of the coral Acropora millepora by tetrabromopyrrole isolated from a Pseudoalteromonas bacterium.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jan Tebben

    Full Text Available The induction of larval attachment and metamorphosis of benthic marine invertebrates is widely considered to rely on habitat specific cues. While microbial biofilms on marine hard substrates have received considerable attention as specific signals for a wide and phylogenetically diverse array of marine invertebrates, the presumed chemical settlement signals produced by the bacteria have to date not been characterized. Here we isolated and fully characterized the first chemical signal from bacteria that induced larval metamorphosis of acroporid coral larvae (Acropora millepora. The metamorphic cue was identified as tetrabromopyrrole (TBP in four bacterial Pseudoalteromonas strains among a culture library of 225 isolates obtained from the crustose coralline algae Neogoniolithon fosliei and Hydrolithon onkodes. Coral planulae transformed into fully developed polyps within 6 h, but only a small proportion of these polyps attached to the substratum. The biofilm cell density of the four bacterial strains had no influence on the ratio of attached vs. non-attached polyps. Larval bioassays with ethanolic extracts of the bacterial isolates, as well as synthetic TBP resulted in consistent responses of coral planulae to various doses of TBP. The lowest bacterial density of one of the Pseudoalteromonas strains which induced metamorphosis was 7,000 cells mm(-2 in laboratory assays, which is on the order of 0.1-1% of the total numbers of bacteria typically found on such surfaces. These results, in which an actual cue from bacteria has been characterized for the first time, contribute significantly towards understanding the complex process of acroporid coral larval settlement mediated through epibiotic microbial biofilms on crustose coralline algae.

  7. Induction of Larval Metamorphosis of the Coral Acropora millepora by Tetrabromopyrrole Isolated from a Pseudoalteromonas Bacterium

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tebben, Jan; Tapiolas, Dianne M.; Motti, Cherie A.; Abrego, David; Negri, Andrew P.; Blackall, Linda L.; Steinberg, Peter D.; Harder, Tilmann

    2011-01-01

    The induction of larval attachment and metamorphosis of benthic marine invertebrates is widely considered to rely on habitat specific cues. While microbial biofilms on marine hard substrates have received considerable attention as specific signals for a wide and phylogenetically diverse array of marine invertebrates, the presumed chemical settlement signals produced by the bacteria have to date not been characterized. Here we isolated and fully characterized the first chemical signal from bacteria that induced larval metamorphosis of acroporid coral larvae (Acropora millepora). The metamorphic cue was identified as tetrabromopyrrole (TBP) in four bacterial Pseudoalteromonas strains among a culture library of 225 isolates obtained from the crustose coralline algae Neogoniolithon fosliei and Hydrolithon onkodes. Coral planulae transformed into fully developed polyps within 6 h, but only a small proportion of these polyps attached to the substratum. The biofilm cell density of the four bacterial strains had no influence on the ratio of attached vs. non-attached polyps. Larval bioassays with ethanolic extracts of the bacterial isolates, as well as synthetic TBP resulted in consistent responses of coral planulae to various doses of TBP. The lowest bacterial density of one of the Pseudoalteromonas strains which induced metamorphosis was 7,000 cells mm−2 in laboratory assays, which is on the order of 0.1 –1% of the total numbers of bacteria typically found on such surfaces. These results, in which an actual cue from bacteria has been characterized for the first time, contribute significantly towards understanding the complex process of acroporid coral larval settlement mediated through epibiotic microbial biofilms on crustose coralline algae. PMID:21559509

  8. Variability of spawning time (lunar day) in Acropora versus merulinid corals: a 7-yr record of in situ coral spawning in Taiwan

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lin, Che-Hung; Nozawa, Yoko

    2017-12-01

    Despite the global accumulation of coral spawning records over the past three decades, information on inter-annual variation in spawning time is still insufficient, resulting in difficulty in predicting coral spawning time. Here, we present new information on in situ spawning times of scleractinian corals at Lyudao, Taiwan, covering their inter-annual variations over a 7-yr period (2010-2016). Spawning of 42 species from 16 genera in eight families was recorded. The majority were hermaphroditic spawners (38 of 42 species), and their spawning occurred 2-4 h after sunset on 1-11 d after the full moon (AFM), mostly in April and May. There were two distinct patterns in the two dominant taxa, the genus Acropora (14 species) and the family Merulinidae (18 species in eight genera). The annual spawning of Acropora corals mostly occurred on a single night in May with high inter-annual variation of spawning (lunar) days between 1 and 11 d AFM. In contrast, the annual spawning of merulinid corals commonly occurred over 2-3 consecutive nights in two consecutive months, April and May, with the specific range of spawning days around the last quarter moon (between 5 and 8 d AFM). The distinct spawning patterns of these taxa were also documented at Okinawa and Kochi, Japan, where similar long-term monitoring of in situ coral spawning has been conducted. This variability in spawning days implies different regulatory mechanisms of synchronous spawning where Acropora corals might be more sensitive to exogenous environmental factors (hourglass mechanism), compared to merulinid corals, which may rely more on endogenous biological rhythms (oscillator mechanism).

  9. Human sewage identified as likely source of white pox disease of the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sutherland, Kathryn Patterson; Porter, James W; Turner, Jeffrey W; Thomas, Brian J; Looney, Erin E; Luna, Trevor P; Meyers, Meredith K; Futch, J Carrie; Lipp, Erin K

    2010-05-01

    Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, has been decimated in recent years, resulting in the listing of this species as threatened under the United States Endangered Species Act. A major contributing factor in the decline of this iconic species is white pox disease. In 2002, we identified the faecal enterobacterium, Serratia marcescens, as an etiological agent for white pox. During outbreaks in 2003 a unique strain of S. marcescens was identified in both human sewage and white pox lesions. This strain (PDR60) was also identified from corallivorious snails (Coralliophila abbreviata), reef water, and two non-acroporid coral species, Siderastrea siderea and Solenastrea bournoni. Identification of PDR60 in sewage, diseased Acropora palmata and other reef invertebrates within a discrete time frame suggests a causal link between white pox and sewage contamination on reefs and supports the conclusion that humans are a likely source of this disease.

  10. Genotype and local environment dynamically influence growth, disturbance response and survivorship in the threatened coral, Acropora cervicornis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Drury, Crawford; Manzello, Derek; Lirman, Diego

    2017-01-01

    The relationship between the coral genotype and the environment is an important area of research in degraded coral reef ecosystems. We used a reciprocal outplanting experiment with 930 corals representing ten genotypes on each of eight reefs to investigate the influence of genotype and the environment on growth and survivorship in the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. Coral genotype and site were strong drivers of coral growth and individual genotypes exhibited flexible, non-conserved reaction norms, complemented by ten-fold differences in growth between specific G-E combinations. Growth plasticity may diminish the influence of local adaptation, where foreign corals grew faster than native corals at their home sites. Novel combinations of environment and genotype also significantly affected disturbance response during and after the 2015 bleaching event, where these factors acted synergistically to drive variation in bleaching and recovery. Importantly, small differences in temperature stress elicit variable patterns of survivorship based on genotype and illustrate the importance of novel combinations of coral genetics and small differences between sites representing habitat refugia. In this context, acclimatization and flexibility is especially important given the long lifespan of corals coping with complex environmental change. The combined influence of site and genotype creates short-term differences in growth and survivorship, contributing to the standing genetic variation needed for adaptation to occur over longer timescales and the recovery of degraded reefs through natural mechanisms.

  11. Genotype and local environment dynamically influence growth, disturbance response and survivorship in the threatened coral, Acropora cervicornis.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Crawford Drury

    Full Text Available The relationship between the coral genotype and the environment is an important area of research in degraded coral reef ecosystems. We used a reciprocal outplanting experiment with 930 corals representing ten genotypes on each of eight reefs to investigate the influence of genotype and the environment on growth and survivorship in the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis. Coral genotype and site were strong drivers of coral growth and individual genotypes exhibited flexible, non-conserved reaction norms, complemented by ten-fold differences in growth between specific G-E combinations. Growth plasticity may diminish the influence of local adaptation, where foreign corals grew faster than native corals at their home sites. Novel combinations of environment and genotype also significantly affected disturbance response during and after the 2015 bleaching event, where these factors acted synergistically to drive variation in bleaching and recovery. Importantly, small differences in temperature stress elicit variable patterns of survivorship based on genotype and illustrate the importance of novel combinations of coral genetics and small differences between sites representing habitat refugia. In this context, acclimatization and flexibility is especially important given the long lifespan of corals coping with complex environmental change. The combined influence of site and genotype creates short-term differences in growth and survivorship, contributing to the standing genetic variation needed for adaptation to occur over longer timescales and the recovery of degraded reefs through natural mechanisms.

  12. Lunar Phase Modulates Circadian Gene Expression Cycles in the Broadcast Spawning Coral Acropora millepora.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brady, Aisling K; Willis, Bette L; Harder, Lawrence D; Vize, Peter D

    2016-04-01

    Many broadcast spawning corals in multiple reef regions release their gametes with incredible temporal precision just once per year, using the lunar cycle to set the night of spawning. Moonlight, rather than tides or other lunar-regulated processes, is thought to be the proximate factor responsible for linking the night of spawning to the phase of the Moon. We compared patterns of gene expression among colonies of the broadcast spawning coral Acropora millepora at different phases of the lunar cycle, and when they were maintained under one of three experimentally simulated lunar lighting treatments: i) lunar lighting conditions matching those on the reef, or lunar patterns mimicking either ii) constant full Moon conditions, or iii) constant new Moon conditions. Normal lunar illumination was found to shift both the level and timing of clock gene transcription cycles between new and full moons, with the peak hour of expression for a number of genes occurring earlier in the evening under a new Moon when compared to a full Moon. When the normal lunar cycle is replaced with nighttime patterns equivalent to either a full Moon or a new Moon every evening, the normal monthlong changes in the level of expression are destroyed for most genes. In combination, these results indicate that daily changes in moonlight that occur over the lunar cycle are essential for maintaining normal lunar periodicity of clock gene transcription, and this may play a role in regulating spawn timing. These data also show that low levels of light pollution may have an impact on coral biological clocks. © 2016 Marine Biological Laboratory.

  13. Comparative analysis of the genomes of Stylophora pistillata and Acropora digitifera provides evidence for extensive differences between species of corals

    KAUST Repository

    Voolstra, Christian R.

    2017-12-08

    Stony corals form the foundation of coral reef ecosystems. Their phylogeny is characterized by a deep evolutionary divergence that separates corals into a robust and complex clade dating back to at least 245 mya. However, the genomic consequences and clade-specific evolution remain unexplored. In this study we have produced the genome of a robust coral, Stylophora pistillata, and compared it to the available genome of a complex coral, Acropora digitifera. We conducted a fine-scale gene-based analysis focusing on ortholog groups. Among the core set of conserved proteins, we found an emphasis on processes related to the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. Genes associated with the algal symbiosis were also independently expanded in both species, but both corals diverged on the identity of ortholog groups expanded, and we found uneven expansions in genes associated with innate immunity and stress response. Our analyses demonstrate that coral genomes can be surprisingly disparate. Future analyses incorporating more genomic data should be able to determine whether the patterns elucidated here are not only characteristic of the differences between S. pistillata and A. digitifera but also representative of corals from the robust and complex clade at large.

  14. Comparative analysis of the genomes of Stylophora pistillata and Acropora digitifera provides evidence for extensive differences between species of corals

    KAUST Repository

    Voolstra, Christian R.; Li, Yong; Liew, Yi Jin; Baumgarten, Sebastian; Zoccola, Didier; Flot, Jean-Franç ois; Tambutté , Sylvie; Allemand, Denis; Aranda, Manuel

    2017-01-01

    Stony corals form the foundation of coral reef ecosystems. Their phylogeny is characterized by a deep evolutionary divergence that separates corals into a robust and complex clade dating back to at least 245 mya. However, the genomic consequences and clade-specific evolution remain unexplored. In this study we have produced the genome of a robust coral, Stylophora pistillata, and compared it to the available genome of a complex coral, Acropora digitifera. We conducted a fine-scale gene-based analysis focusing on ortholog groups. Among the core set of conserved proteins, we found an emphasis on processes related to the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. Genes associated with the algal symbiosis were also independently expanded in both species, but both corals diverged on the identity of ortholog groups expanded, and we found uneven expansions in genes associated with innate immunity and stress response. Our analyses demonstrate that coral genomes can be surprisingly disparate. Future analyses incorporating more genomic data should be able to determine whether the patterns elucidated here are not only characteristic of the differences between S. pistillata and A. digitifera but also representative of corals from the robust and complex clade at large.

  15. Elevated temperature affects development, survivorship, and settlement of the elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata (Lamarck 1816).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Randall, Carly J; Szmant, Alina M

    2009-12-01

    Elevated seawater temperatures during the late summer have the potential to negatively affect the development and survivorship of the larvae of reef corals that are reproductive during that time of year. Acropora palmata, a major Caribbean hermatype, reproduces annually during August and September. A. palmata populations have severely declined over the past three decades, and recovery will require high recruitment rates. Such recruitment will be limited if larval supply is reduced by elevated temperatures. The effects of elevated temperatures on development, survival, and larval settlement of A. palmata were investigated by culturing newly fertilized eggs at temperatures ranging from 27.5 to 31.5 degrees C. Development was accelerated and the percentage of developmental abnormalities increased at higher temperatures. Embryo mortality peaked during gastrulation, indicating that this complex developmental process is particularly sensitive to elevated temperatures. Larvae cultured at 30 and 31.5 degrees C experienced as much as an 8-fold decrease in survivorship compared to those at 28 degrees C. Additionally, settlement was 62% at 28 degrees C compared to 37% at 31.5 degrees C. These results indicate that embryos and larvae of A. palmata will be negatively affected as sea surface temperatures continue to warm, likely reducing recruitment and the recovery potential of A. palmata on Caribbean reefs.

  16. Thermal stress exposure, bleaching response, and mortality in the threatened coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Williams, D E; Miller, M W; Bright, A J; Pausch, R E; Valdivia, A

    2017-11-15

    Demographic data for Elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, and in situ water temperature data from seven upper Florida Keys (USA) reefs revealed three warm thermal stress events between 2010 and 2016. During a mild bleaching event in 2011, up to 59% of colonies bleached, but no mortality resulted. In both 2014 and 2015, severe and unprecedented bleaching was observed with up to 100% of colonies bleached. A. palmata live tissue cover declined by one-third following the 2014-2015 events. Colony mortality of mildly- and non-bleached colonies did not differ but increased significantly with more severe bleaching. Increased bleaching prevalence corresponded to maximum daily average water temperatures above 31.3°C. However, the cumulative days with daily average exceeding 31.0°C provided a better predictor of bleaching response. The bleaching response of surviving colonies in 2015 was not consistent with acclimatization as most individual colonies bleached at least as badly as in 2014. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  17. Disease prevalence and snail predation associated with swell-generated damage on the threatened coral, Acropora palmata (Lamarck

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Allan Joseph Bright

    2016-05-01

    Full Text Available Disturbances such as tropical storms cause coral mortality and reduce coral cover as a direct result of physical damage. Storms can be one of the most important disturbances in coral reef ecosystems, and it is crucial to understand their long-term impacts on coral populations. The primary objective of this study was to determine trends in disease prevalence and snail predation on damaged and undamaged colonies of the threatened coral species, Acropora palmata, following an episode of heavy ocean swells in the US Virgin Islands (USVI. At three sites on St. Thomas and St. John, colonies of A. palmata were surveyed monthly over one year following a series of large swells in March 2008 that fragmented 30 to 93% of colonies on monitored reefs. Post-disturbance surveys conducted from April 2008 through March 2009 showed that swell-generated damage to A. palmata caused negative indirect effects that compounded the initial direct effects of physical disturbance. During the 12 months after the swell event, white pox disease prevalence was 41% higher for colonies that sustained damage from the swells than for undamaged colonies (df = 207, p = 0.01 with greatest differences in disease prevalence occurring during warm water months. In addition, the corallivorous snail, Coralliophila abbreviata, was 46% more abundant on damaged corals than undamaged corals during the 12 months after the swell event (df = 207, p = 0.006.

  18. Disease prevalence and snail predation associated with swell-generated damage on the threatened coral, Acropora palmata (Lamarck)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bright, Allan J.; Rogers, Caroline S.; Brandt, Marilyn E.; Muller, Erinn; Smith, Tyler B.

    2016-01-01

    Disturbances such as tropical storms cause coral mortality and reduce coral cover as a direct result of physical damage. Storms can be one of the most important disturbances in coral reef ecosystems, and it is crucial to understand their long-term impacts on coral populations. The primary objective of this study was to determine trends in disease prevalence and snail predation on damaged and undamaged colonies of the threatened coral species, Acropora palmata, following an episode of heavy ocean swells in the US Virgin Islands (USVI). At three sites on St. Thomas and St. John, colonies of A. palmata were surveyed monthly over 1 year following a series of large swells in March 2008 that fragmented 30–93% of colonies on monitored reefs. Post-disturbance surveys conducted from April 2008 through March 2009 showed that swell-generated damage to A. palmata caused negative indirect effects that compounded the initial direct effects of physical disturbance. During the 12 months after the swell event, white pox disease prevalence was 41% higher for colonies that sustained damage from the swells than for undamaged colonies (df = 207, p = 0.01) with greatest differences in disease prevalence occurring during warm water months. In addition, the corallivorous snail, Coralliophila abbreviata, was 46% more abundant on damaged corals than undamaged corals during the 12 months after the swell event (df = 207, p = 0.006).

  19. Additive effects of the herbicide glyphosate and elevated temperature on the branched coral Acropora formosa in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Amid, C; Olstedt, M; Gunnarsson, J S; Le Lan, H; Tran Thi Minh, H; Van den Brink, P J; Hellström, M; Tedengren, M

    2018-05-01

    The combined effects of the herbicide glyphosate and elevated temperature were studied on the tropical staghorn coral Acropora formosa, in Nha Trang bay, Vietnam. The corals were collected from two different reefs, one close to a polluted fish farm and one in a marine-protected area (MPA). In the laboratory, branches of the corals were exposed to the herbicide glyphosate at ambient (28 °C) and at 3 °C elevated water temperatures (31 °C). Effects of herbicide and elevated temperature were studied on coral bleaching using photography and digital image analysis (new colorimetric method developed here based on grayscale), chlorophyll a analysis, and symbiotic dinoflagellate (Symbiodinium, referred to as zooxanthellae) counts. All corals from the MPA started to bleach in the laboratory before they were exposed to the treatments, indicating that they were very sensitive, as opposed to the corals collected from the more polluted site, which were more tolerant and showed no bleaching response to temperature increase or herbicide alone. However, the combined exposure to the stressors resulted in significant loss of color, proportional to loss in chlorophyll a and zooxanthellae. The difference in sensitivity of the corals collected from the polluted site versus the MPA site could be explained by different symbiont types: the resilient type C3u and the stress-sensitive types C21 and C23, respectively. The additive effect of elevated temperatures and herbicides adds further weight to the notion that the bleaching of coral reefs is accelerated in the presence of multiple stressors. These results suggest that the corals in Nha Trang bay have adapted to the ongoing pollution to become more tolerant to anthropogenic stressors, and that multiple stressors hamper this resilience. The loss of color and decrease of chlorophyll a suggest that bleaching is related to concentration of chloro-pigments. The colorimetric method could be further fine-tuned and used as a precise, non

  20. Genetic susceptibility, colony size, and water temperature drive white-pox disease on the coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Muller, Erinn M; van Woesik, Robert

    2014-01-01

    Outbreaks of coral diseases are one of the greatest threats to reef corals in the Caribbean, yet the mechanisms that lead to coral diseases are still largely unknown. Here we examined the spatial-temporal dynamics of white-pox disease on Acropora palmata coral colonies of known genotypes. We took a Bayesian approach, using Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation algorithms, to examine which covariates influenced the presence of white-pox disease over seven years. We showed that colony size, genetic susceptibility of the coral host, and high-water temperatures were the primary tested variables that were positively associated with the presence of white-pox disease on A. palmata colonies. Our study also showed that neither distance from previously diseased individuals, nor colony location, influenced the dynamics of white-pox disease. These results suggest that white-pox disease was most likely a consequence of anomalously high water temperatures that selectively compromised the oldest colonies and the most susceptible coral genotypes.

  1. Genetic susceptibility, colony size, and water temperature drive white-pox disease on the coral Acropora palmata.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Erinn M Muller

    Full Text Available Outbreaks of coral diseases are one of the greatest threats to reef corals in the Caribbean, yet the mechanisms that lead to coral diseases are still largely unknown. Here we examined the spatial-temporal dynamics of white-pox disease on Acropora palmata coral colonies of known genotypes. We took a Bayesian approach, using Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation algorithms, to examine which covariates influenced the presence of white-pox disease over seven years. We showed that colony size, genetic susceptibility of the coral host, and high-water temperatures were the primary tested variables that were positively associated with the presence of white-pox disease on A. palmata colonies. Our study also showed that neither distance from previously diseased individuals, nor colony location, influenced the dynamics of white-pox disease. These results suggest that white-pox disease was most likely a consequence of anomalously high water temperatures that selectively compromised the oldest colonies and the most susceptible coral genotypes.

  2. Fragmentation in the branching coral Acropora palmata (Lamarck): growth, survivorship, and reproduction of colonies and fragments.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lirman

    2000-08-23

    Acropora palmata, a branching coral abundant on shallow reef environments throughout the Caribbean, is susceptible to physical disturbance caused by storms. Accordingly, the survivorship and propagation of this species are tied to its capability to recover after fragmentation. Fragments of A. palmata comprised 40% of ramets within populations that had experienced recent storms. While the survivorship of A. palmata fragments was not directly related to the size of fragments, removal of fragments from areas where they settled was influenced by size. Survivorship of fragments was also affected by type of substratum; the greatest mortality (58% loss within the first month) was observed on sand, whereas fragments placed on top of live colonies of A. palmata fused to the underlying tissue and did not experience any losses. Fragments created by Hurricane Andrew on a Florida reef in August 1992 began developing new growth (proto-branches) 7 months after the storm. The number of proto-branches on fragments was dependent on size, but growth was not affected by the size of fragments. Growth-rates of proto-branches increased exponentially with time (1.7 cm year(-1) for 1993-1994, 2.7 cm year(-1) for 1994-1995, 4.2 cm year(-1) for 1995-1996, and 6.5 cm year(-1) for 1996-1997), taking over 4 years for proto-branches to achieve rates comparable to those of adult colonies on the same reef (6.9 cm year(-1)). In addition to the initial mortality and reduced growth-rates, fragmentation resulted in a loss of reproductive potential. Neither colonies that experienced severe fragmentation nor fragments contained gametes until 4 years after the initial damage. Although A. palmata may survive periodic fragmentation, the long-term effects of this process will depend ultimately on the balance between the benefits and costs of this process.

  3. Recruitment failure in Florida Keys Acropora palmata, a threatened Caribbean coral

    Science.gov (United States)

    Williams, D. E.; Miller, M. W.; Kramer, K. L.

    2008-09-01

    Recovery of Acropora palmata from its currently imperiled status depends on recruitment, a process which is poorly documented in existing Caribbean coral population studies. A. palmata is thought to be well adapted to proliferate through the recruitment of fragments resulting from physical disturbances, such as moderate intensity hurricanes. This study monitored fifteen 150 m2 fixed study plots on the upper Florida Keys fore-reef for asexual and sexual recruitment from 2004 to 2007. Between July and October 2005, 4 hurricanes passed by the Florida Keys, producing wind speeds on the reef tract of 23 to 33 m s-1. Surveys following the hurricanes documented an average loss of 52% estimated live tissue area within the study plots. The percentage of “branching” colonies in the population decreased from 67% to 42% while “remnant” colonies (isolated patches of tissue on standing skeleton) increased from 11% to 27%. Although some detached branches remained as loose fragments, more than 70% of the 380 fragments observed in the study plots were dead or rapidly losing tissue 3 weeks after Hurricane Dennis. Over the course of the study, only 27 fragments became attached to the substrate to form successful asexual recruits. Meanwhile, of the 18 new, small encrusting colonies that were observed in the study, only 2 were not attributable to asexual origin (i.e., remnant tissue from colonies or fragments previously observed) and are therefore possible sexual recruits. In summary, the 2005 hurricane season resulted in substantial loss of A. palmata from the upper Florida Keys fore-reef from a combination of physical removal and subsequent disease-like tissue mortality, and yielded few recruits of either sexual or asexual origin. Furthermore, the asexual and sexual fecundity of the remaining population is compromised for the near future due to the lack of branches (i.e., “asexual fecundity”) and overall loss of live tissue.

  4. Disease dynamics and potential mitigation among restored and wild staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lohr, Kathryn E.; Cameron, Caitlin M.; Williams, Dana E.; Peters, Esther C.

    2014-01-01

    The threatened status (both ecologically and legally) of Caribbean staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, has prompted rapidly expanding efforts in culture and restocking, although tissue loss diseases continue to affect populations. In this study, disease surveillance and histopathological characterization were used to compare disease dynamics and conditions in both restored and extant wild populations. Disease had devastating effects on both wild and restored populations, but dynamics were highly variable and appeared to be site-specific with no significant differences in disease prevalence between wild versus restored sites. A subset of 20 haphazardly selected colonies at each site observed over a four-month period revealed widely varying disease incidence, although not between restored and wild sites, and a case fatality rate of 8%. A tropical storm was the only discernable environmental trigger associated with a consistent spike in incidence across all sites. Lastly, two field mitigation techniques, (1) excision of apparently healthy branch tips from a diseased colony, and (2) placement of a band of epoxy fully enclosing the diseased margin, gave equivocal results with no significant benefit detected for either treatment compared to controls. Tissue condition of associated samples was fair to very poor; unsuccessful mitigation treatment samples had severe degeneration of mesenterial filament cnidoglandular bands. Polyp mucocytes in all samples were infected with suspect rickettsia-like organisms; however, no bacterial aggregates were found. No histological differences were found between disease lesions with gross signs fitting literature descriptions of white-band disease (WBD) and rapid tissue loss (RTL). Overall, our results do not support differing disease quality, quantity, dynamics, nor health management strategies between restored and wild colonies of A. cervicornis in the Florida Keys. PMID:25210660

  5. Prevalence of virus-like particles within a staghorn scleractinian coral ( Acropora muricata) from the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Patten, N. L.; Harrison, P. L.; Mitchell, J. G.

    2008-09-01

    Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to determine whether Acropora muricata coral colonies from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia, harboured virus-like particles (VLPs). VLPs were present in all coral colonies sampled at Heron Island (southern GBR) and in tagged coral colonies sampled in at least two of the three sampling periods at Lizard Island (northern GBR). VLPs were observed within gastrodermal and epidermal tissues, and on rarer occasions, within the mesoglea. These VLPs had similar morphologies to known prokaryotic and eukaryotic viruses in other systems. Icosahedral VLPs were observed most frequently, however, filamentous VLPs (FVLPs) and phage were also noted. There were no clear differences in VLP size, morphology or location within the tissues with respect to sample date, coral health status or site. The most common VLP morphotype exhibited icosahedral symmetry, 120-150 nm in diameter, with an electron-dense core and an electronlucent membrane. Larger VLPs of similar morphology were also common. VLPs occurred as single entities, in groups, or in dense clusters, either as free particles within coral tissues, or within membrane-bound vacuoles. VLPs were commonly observed within the perinuclear region, with mitochondria, golgi apparatus and crescent-shaped particles frequently observed within close proximity. The host(s) of these observed VLPs was not clear; however, the different sizes and morphologies of VLPs observed within A. muricata tissues suggest that viruses are infecting either the coral animal, zooxanthellae, intracellular bacteria and/or other coral-associated microbiota, or that the one host is susceptible to infection from more than one type of virus. These results add to the limited but emerging body of evidence that viruses represent another potentially important component of the coral holobiont.

  6. Coral Diseases Following Massive Bleaching in 2005 Cause 60 Percent Decline in Coral Cover and Mortality of the Threatened Species, Acropora Palmata, on Reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.

    2008-01-01

    Record-high seawater temperatures and calm seas in the summer of 2005 led to the most severe coral bleaching (greater than 90 percent bleached coral cover) ever observed in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) (figs. 1 and 2). All but a few coral species bleached, including the threatened species, Acropora palmata. Bleaching was seen from the surface to depths over 20 meters.

  7. Delayed fluorescence as an indicator of the influence of the herbicides Irgarol 1051 and Diuron on hard coral Acropora digitifera.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Katsumata, Masakazu; Takeuchi, Ichiro

    2017-11-30

    We examined the effect of two herbicides (Irgarol 1051 and Diuron) on symbiotic dinoflagellates in the hard coral Acropora digitifera using delayed fluorescence (DF), specifically assessing changes in molecular membrane transport, i.e. inflow and outflow rates, and the binding of the herbicides to target proteins in photosystem II. The DF approach is rapid (e.g. measurement time, 60 s) and non-invasive, and can provide data on the extent of a photosynthetic system and the activity of its electron carriers. The DF of A. digitifera is inhibited 2 h after exposure to 1 μg/L of either Irgarol or Diuron. Analysis of DF inhibition over time by a compartment model suggests that Irgarol exposure results in a relatively higher inflow rate and lower outflow rate than does Diuron exposure. This suggests that Irgarol exposure more strongly inhibits photosynthesis and that the coral symbiotic dinoflagellates recover less from inhibition. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  8. Experimental effect of temperature and sedimentation on bleaching of the two Red Sea corals Stylophora pistillata and Acropora humilis

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    MOHAMMED S.A. AMMAR

    2013-11-01

    Full Text Available Ammar MSA, Obuid-Allah AH, Al-Hammady MAM. 2013. Experimental effect of temperature and sedimentation on bleaching of the two Red Sea corals Stylophora pistillata and Acropora humilis. Nusantara Bioscience 5: 73-83. At 26°C (the control sample, the loss of zooxanthellae by each of the two studied corals Stylophora pistillata and Acropora humilis was very low. Cell viability of the two studied corals was similar at 26 and 29°C, but depicted a sharp decline of zooxanthellae lost at 31°C through time. As the temperature increased to 35°C, the loss of zooxanthellae from each host increased both with time and temperature elevation. The coral A. humilis had a higher decrease in its zooxanthellae densities than S. pistillata at the same treatment. Bleaching temperature threshold was 33°C or less for the two species S. pistillata and A. humilis where 51% of their zooxanthellae were lost after 24 h of exposure. In samples exposed to sediment concentration of 0.1 mg/cm2/L, zooxanthellae densities of A. humilis and S. pistillata did not show any decrease after 1 day. However, after 1 days of exposure to 0.5 mg/cm2/L, zooxanthellae densities were significantly different from those of the controls. Increases in sediment concentration to 1 mg/cm2/L caused a decrease in zooxanthellae densities that vary greatly over time. Measurements of zooxanthellae densities of A. humilis and S. pistillata at this stage revealed a highly significant difference between exposed and control sample. At 1 g/cm2/L, the number of zooxanthellae lost from A. humilis was higher than those lost from S. pistillata at same time. It is suggested that, the normal sedimentation rate for A. humilis and S. pistillata to be in an order of 1 mg/cm2/L or less.

  9. Cumulative Effects of Nutrient Enrichment and Elevated Temperature Compromise the Early Life History Stages of the Coral Acropora tenuis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Humanes, Adriana; Noonan, Sam H C; Willis, Bette L; Fabricius, Katharina E; Negri, Andrew P

    2016-01-01

    Inshore coral reefs are experiencing the combined pressures of excess nutrient availability associated with coastal activities and warming seawater temperatures. Both pressures are known to have detrimental effects on the early life history stages of hard corals, but studies of their combined effects on early demographic stages are lacking. We conducted a series of experiments to test the combined effects of nutrient enrichment (three levels) and elevated seawater temperature (up to five levels) on early life history stages of the inshore coral Acropora tenuis, a common species in the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea. Gamete fertilization, larval survivorship and larval settlement were all significantly reduced as temperature increased, but only fertilization was further affected by simultaneous nutrient enrichment. Combined high temperatures and nutrient enrichment affected fertilization in an additive manner, whereas embryo abnormalities increased synergistically. Higher than normal temperatures (32°C) increased coral juvenile growth rates 1.6-fold, but mortality also increased by 50%. The co-occurrence of nutrient enrichment with high temperatures reduced juvenile mortality to 36%, ameliorating temperature stress (antagonistic interaction). Overall, the types of effect (additive vs synergistic or antagonistic) and their magnitude varied among life stages. Gamete and embryo stages were more affected by temperature stress and, in some cases, also by nutrient enrichment than juveniles. The data suggest that coastal runoff events might exacerbate the impacts of warming temperatures on fertilization if these events co-occur during corals spawning. The cumulative impacts of simultaneous exposure to nutrient enrichment and elevated temperatures over all early life history stages increases the likelihood for failure of larval supply and recruitment for this coral species. Our results suggest that improving the water quality of river discharges into coastal areas might help to

  10. In-situ effects of eutrophication and overfishing on physiology and bacterial diversity of the red sea coral Acropora hemprichii.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jessen, Christian; Villa Lizcano, Javier Felipe; Bayer, Till; Roder, Cornelia; Aranda, Manuel; Wild, Christian; Voolstra, Christian R

    2013-01-01

    Coral reefs of the Central Red Sea display a high degree of endemism, and are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic effects due to intense local coastal development measures. Overfishing and eutrophication are among the most significant local pressures on these reefs, but there is no information available about their potential effects on the associated microbial community. Therefore, we compared holobiont physiology and 16S-based bacterial communities of tissue and mucus of the hard coral Acropora hemprichii after 1 and 16 weeks of in-situ inorganic nutrient enrichment (via fertilizer diffusion) and/or herbivore exclusion (via caging) in an offshore reef of the Central Red Sea. Simulated eutrophication and/or overfishing treatments did not affect coral physiology with respect to coral respiration rates, chlorophyll a content, zooxanthellae abundance, or δ (15)N isotopic signatures. The bacterial community of A. hemprichii was rich and uneven, and diversity increased over time in all treatments. While distinct bacterial species were identified as a consequence of eutrophication, overfishing, or both, two bacterial species that could be classified to the genus Endozoicomonas were consistently abundant and constituted two thirds of bacteria in the coral. Several nitrogen-fixing and denitrifying bacteria were found in the coral specimens that were exposed to experimentally increased nutrients. However, no particular bacterial species was consistently associated with the coral under a given treatment and the single effects of manipulated eutrophication and overfishing could not predict the combined effect. Our data underlines the importance of conducting field studies in a holobiont framework, taking both, physiological and molecular measures into account.

  11. In-situ effects of eutrophication and overfishing on physiology and bacterial diversity of the red sea coral Acropora hemprichii.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Christian Jessen

    Full Text Available Coral reefs of the Central Red Sea display a high degree of endemism, and are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic effects due to intense local coastal development measures. Overfishing and eutrophication are among the most significant local pressures on these reefs, but there is no information available about their potential effects on the associated microbial community. Therefore, we compared holobiont physiology and 16S-based bacterial communities of tissue and mucus of the hard coral Acropora hemprichii after 1 and 16 weeks of in-situ inorganic nutrient enrichment (via fertilizer diffusion and/or herbivore exclusion (via caging in an offshore reef of the Central Red Sea. Simulated eutrophication and/or overfishing treatments did not affect coral physiology with respect to coral respiration rates, chlorophyll a content, zooxanthellae abundance, or δ (15N isotopic signatures. The bacterial community of A. hemprichii was rich and uneven, and diversity increased over time in all treatments. While distinct bacterial species were identified as a consequence of eutrophication, overfishing, or both, two bacterial species that could be classified to the genus Endozoicomonas were consistently abundant and constituted two thirds of bacteria in the coral. Several nitrogen-fixing and denitrifying bacteria were found in the coral specimens that were exposed to experimentally increased nutrients. However, no particular bacterial species was consistently associated with the coral under a given treatment and the single effects of manipulated eutrophication and overfishing could not predict the combined effect. Our data underlines the importance of conducting field studies in a holobiont framework, taking both, physiological and molecular measures into account.

  12. In-situ effects of eutrophication and overfishing on physiology and bacterial diversity of the red sea coral Acropora hemprichii.

    KAUST Repository

    Jessen, Christian

    2013-04-22

    Coral reefs of the Central Red Sea display a high degree of endemism, and are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic effects due to intense local coastal development measures. Overfishing and eutrophication are among the most significant local pressures on these reefs, but there is no information available about their potential effects on the associated microbial community. Therefore, we compared holobiont physiology and 16S-based bacterial communities of tissue and mucus of the hard coral Acropora hemprichii after 1 and 16 weeks of in-situ inorganic nutrient enrichment (via fertilizer diffusion) and/or herbivore exclusion (via caging) in an offshore reef of the Central Red Sea. Simulated eutrophication and/or overfishing treatments did not affect coral physiology with respect to coral respiration rates, chlorophyll a content, zooxanthellae abundance, or δ (15)N isotopic signatures. The bacterial community of A. hemprichii was rich and uneven, and diversity increased over time in all treatments. While distinct bacterial species were identified as a consequence of eutrophication, overfishing, or both, two bacterial species that could be classified to the genus Endozoicomonas were consistently abundant and constituted two thirds of bacteria in the coral. Several nitrogen-fixing and denitrifying bacteria were found in the coral specimens that were exposed to experimentally increased nutrients. However, no particular bacterial species was consistently associated with the coral under a given treatment and the single effects of manipulated eutrophication and overfishing could not predict the combined effect. Our data underlines the importance of conducting field studies in a holobiont framework, taking both, physiological and molecular measures into account.

  13. Cumulative Effects of Nutrient Enrichment and Elevated Temperature Compromise the Early Life History Stages of the Coral Acropora tenuis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Noonan, Sam H. C.; Willis, Bette L.; Fabricius, Katharina E.; Negri, Andrew P.

    2016-01-01

    Inshore coral reefs are experiencing the combined pressures of excess nutrient availability associated with coastal activities and warming seawater temperatures. Both pressures are known to have detrimental effects on the early life history stages of hard corals, but studies of their combined effects on early demographic stages are lacking. We conducted a series of experiments to test the combined effects of nutrient enrichment (three levels) and elevated seawater temperature (up to five levels) on early life history stages of the inshore coral Acropora tenuis, a common species in the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea. Gamete fertilization, larval survivorship and larval settlement were all significantly reduced as temperature increased, but only fertilization was further affected by simultaneous nutrient enrichment. Combined high temperatures and nutrient enrichment affected fertilization in an additive manner, whereas embryo abnormalities increased synergistically. Higher than normal temperatures (32°C) increased coral juvenile growth rates 1.6-fold, but mortality also increased by 50%. The co-occurrence of nutrient enrichment with high temperatures reduced juvenile mortality to 36%, ameliorating temperature stress (antagonistic interaction). Overall, the types of effect (additive vs synergistic or antagonistic) and their magnitude varied among life stages. Gamete and embryo stages were more affected by temperature stress and, in some cases, also by nutrient enrichment than juveniles. The data suggest that coastal runoff events might exacerbate the impacts of warming temperatures on fertilization if these events co-occur during corals spawning. The cumulative impacts of simultaneous exposure to nutrient enrichment and elevated temperatures over all early life history stages increases the likelihood for failure of larval supply and recruitment for this coral species. Our results suggest that improving the water quality of river discharges into coastal areas might help to

  14. Larval settlement preferences and post-settlement survival of the threatened Caribbean corals Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ritson-Williams, R.; Paul, Valerie J.; Arnold, S. N.; Steneck, R. S.

    2010-03-01

    The settlement specificity of two threatened Caribbean corals, Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, was tested by measuring their rates of larval metamorphosis in response to crustose coralline algae (CCA) and other substrata. In the no-choice experiments, the coral larvae were placed in six treatments: filtered seawater (FSW), a fragment of biofilmed dead skeleton of A. palmata, or a fragment of one of four species of CCA ( Hydrolithon boergesenii, Porolithon pachydermum, Paragoniolithon solubile, and Titanoderma prototypum). Within each CCA treatment, there were three different substrata on which to settle and metamorphose: (1) the CCA surface, (2) the rock under the CCA, or (3) the plastic dish. The 5-day-old larvae of both A. palmata and A. cervicornis had similar rates of total metamorphosis (all substrata combined) in every treatment (excluding FSW) even in the absence of CCA. However, there were differences in larval behavior among the CCA species since the larvae settled and metamorphosed on different substrata in the presence of different CCA species. In the no-choice experiments the larvae of both corals had higher rates of metamorphosis on the top surfaces of H. boergesenii and/or T. prototypum than on P. pachydermum. In the choice experiments, the coral larvae were offered two species of CCA in the same dish. When given a choice, both species of coral larvae had more settlement and metamorphosis on the surface of H. boergesenii or T. prototypum or clean rock than onto the surface of P. solubile. After 6 weeks in the field, transplanted A. palmata recruits had approximately 15% survival on both T. prototypum and H. boergesenii, but A. cervicornis recruits only survived on T. prototypum (13%). Some, but not all, CCA species facilitated the larval settlement and post-settlement survival of these two threatened corals, highlighting the importance of benthic community composition for successful coral recruitment.

  15. Chimerism in wild adult populations of the broadcast spawning coral Acropora millepora on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Eneour Puill-Stephan

    2009-11-01

    Full Text Available Chimeras are organisms containing tissues or cells of two or more genetically distinct individuals, and are known to exist in at least nine phyla of protists, plants, and animals. Although widespread and common in marine invertebrates, the extent of chimerism in wild populations of reef corals is unknown.The extent of chimerism was explored within two populations of a common coral, Acropora millepora, on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, by using up to 12 polymorphic DNA microsatellite loci. At least 2% and 5% of Magnetic Island and Pelorus Island populations of A. millepora, respectively, were found to be chimeras (3% overall, based on conservative estimates. A slightly less conservative estimate indicated that 5% of colonies in each population were chimeras. These values are likely to be vast underestimates of the true extent of chimerism, as our sampling protocol was restricted to a maximum of eight branches per colony, while most colonies consist of hundreds of branches. Genotypes within chimeric corals showed high relatedness, indicating that genetic similarity is a prerequisite for long-term acceptance of non-self genotypes within coral colonies.While some brooding corals have been shown to form genetic chimeras in their early life history stages under experimental conditions, this study provides the first genetic evidence of the occurrence of coral chimeras in the wild and of chimerism in a broadcast spawning species. We hypothesize that chimerism is more widespread in corals than previously thought, and suggest that this has important implications for their resilience, potentially enhancing their capacity to compete for space and respond to stressors such as pathogen infection.

  16. Distribution and abundance of elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, and prevalence of white-band disease at Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mayor, Philippe A.; Rogers, Caroline S.; Hillis-Starr, Zandy M.

    2006-05-01

    In the 1970s and 1980s elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, declined dramatically throughout the Caribbean primarily due to white-band disease (WBD). In 2005, elkhorn coral was proposed for listing as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act. WBD was first documented at Buck Island Reef National Monument (BIRNM). Together with hurricanes WBD reduced live elkhorn coral coverage by probably over 90%. In the past decade some recovery has been observed at BIRNM. This study assessed the distribution and abundance of elkhorn coral and estimated the prevalence of WBD at the monument. Within an area of 795 ha, we estimated 97,232 134,371 (95% confidence limits) elkhorn coral colonies with any dimension of connected live tissue greater than one meter, about 3% of which were infected by WBD. Despite some recovery, the elkhorn coral density remains low and WBD may continue to present a threat to the elkhorn coral population.

  17. Geographic and habitat partitioning of genetically distinct zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium) in Acropora corals on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ulstrup, K E; Van Oppen, M J H

    2003-12-01

    Intra- and intercolony diversity and distribution of zooxanthellae in acroporid corals is largely uncharted. In this study, two molecular methods were applied to determine the distribution of zooxanthellae in the branching corals Acropora tenuis and A. valida at several reef locations in the central section of the Great Barrier Reef. Sun-exposed and shaded parts of all colonies were examined. Single-stranded conformational polymorphism analysis showed that individual colonies of A. tenuis at two locations harbour two strains of Symbiodinium belonging to clade C (C1 and C2), whereas conspecific colonies at two other reefs harboured a single zooxanthella strain. A. valida was found to simultaneously harbour strains belonging to two distinct phylogenetic clades (C and D) at all locations sampled. A novel method with improved sensitivity (quantitative polymerase chain reaction using Taqman fluorogenic probes) was used to map the relative abundance distribution of the two zooxanthella clades. At two of the five sampling locations both coral species were collected. At these two locations, composition of the zooxanthella communities showed the same pattern in both coral species, i.e. correlation with ambient light in Pioneer Bay and an absence thereof in Nelly Bay. The results show that the distribution of genetically distinct zooxanthellae is correlated with light regime and possibly temperature in some (but not all) colonies of A. tenuis and A. valida and at some reef locations, which we interpret as acclimation to local environmental conditions.

  18. Restoration of critically endangered elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata populations using larvae reared from wild-caught gametes

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Valérie F. Chamberland

    2015-07-01

    Full Text Available Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata populations provide important ecological functions on shallow Caribbean reefs, many of which were lost when a disease reduced their abundance by more than 95% beginning in the mid-1970s. Since then, a lack of significant recovery has prompted rehabilitation initiatives throughout the Caribbean. Here, we report the first successful outplanting and long-term survival of A. palmata settlers reared from gametes collected in the field. A. palmata larvae were settled on clay substrates (substrate units and either outplanted on the reef two weeks after settlement or kept in a land-based nursery. After 2.5 years, the survival rate of A. palmata settlers outplanted two weeks after settlement was 6.8 times higher (3.4% than that of settlers kept in a land-based nursery (0.5%. Furthermore, 32% of the substrate units on the reef still harbored one or more well-developed recruit compared to 3% for substrate units kept in the nursery. In addition to increasing survival, outplanting A. palmata settlers shortly after settlement reduced the costs to produce at least one 2.5-year-old A. palmata individual from $325 to $13 USD. Thus, this study not only highlights the first successful long-term rearing of this critically endangered coral species, but also shows that early outplanting of sexually reared coral settlers can be more cost-effective than the traditional approach of nursery rearing for restoration efforts aimed at rehabilitating coral populations.

  19. Gene Expression Patterns during the Early Stages of Chemically Induced Larval Metamorphosis and Settlement of the Coral Acropora millepora

    Science.gov (United States)

    Siboni, Nachshon; Abrego, David; Motti, Cherie A.; Tebben, Jan; Harder, Tilmann

    2014-01-01

    The morphogenetic transition of motile coral larvae into sessile primary polyps is triggered and genetically programmed upon exposure to environmental biomaterials, such as crustose coralline algae (CCA) and bacterial biofilms. Although the specific chemical cues that trigger coral larval morphogenesis are poorly understood there is much more information available on the genes that play a role in this early life phase. Putative chemical cues from natural biomaterials yielded defined chemical samples that triggered different morphogenetic outcomes: an extract derived from a CCA-associated Pseudoalteromonas bacterium that induced metamorphosis, characterized by non-attached metamorphosed juveniles; and two fractions of the CCA Hydrolithon onkodes (Heydrich) that induced settlement, characterized by attached metamorphosed juveniles. In an effort to distinguish the genes involved in these two morphogenetic transitions, competent larvae of the coral Acropora millepora were exposed to these predictable cues and the expression profiles of 47 coral genes of interest (GOI) were investigated after only 1 hour of exposure using multiplex RT–qPCR. Thirty-two GOI were differentially expressed, indicating a putative role during the early regulation of morphogenesis. The most striking differences were observed for immunity-related genes, hypothesized to be involved in cell recognition and adhesion, and for fluorescent protein genes. Principal component analysis of gene expression profiles resulted in separation between the different morphogenetic cues and exposure times, and not only identified those genes involved in the early response but also those which influenced downstream biological changes leading to larval metamorphosis or settlement. PMID:24632854

  20. Bleaching, disease and recovery in the threatened scleractinian coral Acropora palmata in St. John, US Virgin Islands: 2003-2010

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, C.S.; Muller, E.M.

    2012-01-01

    A long-term study of the scleractinian coral Acropora palmata in the US Virgin Islands (USVI) showed that diseases, particularly white pox, are limiting the recovery of this threatened species. Colonies of A. palmata in Haulover Bay, within Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, were examined monthly in situ for signs of disease and other stressors from January 2003 through December 2009. During the study, 89.9 % of the colonies (n = 69) exhibited disease, including white pox (87 %), white band (13 %), and unknown (9 %). Monthly disease prevalence ranged from 0 to 57 %, and disease was the most significant cause of complete colony mortality (n = 17). A positive correlation was found between water temperature and disease prevalence, but not incidence. Annual average disease prevalence and incidence remained constant during the study. Colonies generally showed an increase in the estimated amount of total living tissue from growth, but 25 (36.2 %) of the colonies died. Acropora palmata bleached in the USVI for the first time during the 2005 Caribbean bleaching event. Only one of the 23 colonies that bleached appeared to die directly from bleaching. In 2005, corals that bleached had greater disease prevalence than those that did not bleach. Just over half (52 %) of the colonies incurred some physical damage. Monitoring of fragments (broken branches) that were generated by physical damage through June 2007 showed that 46.1 % died and 28.4 % remained alive; the fragments that attached to the substrate survived longer than those that did not. Recent surveys showed an increase in the total number of colonies within the reef area, formed from both asexual and sexual reproduction. Genotype analysis of 48 of the originally monitored corals indicated that 43 grew from sexual recruits supporting the conclusion that both asexual and sexual reproduction are contributing to an increase in colony density at this site.

  1. Bleaching, disease and recovery in the threatened scleractinian coral Acropora palmata in St. John, US Virgin Islands: 2003-2010

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, C. S.; Muller, E. M.

    2012-09-01

    A long-term study of the scleractinian coral Acropora palmata in the US Virgin Islands (USVI) showed that diseases, particularly white pox, are limiting the recovery of this threatened species. Colonies of A. palmata in Haulover Bay, within Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, were examined monthly in situ for signs of disease and other stressors from January 2003 through December 2009. During the study, 89.9 % of the colonies ( n = 69) exhibited disease, including white pox (87 %), white band (13 %), and unknown (9 %). Monthly disease prevalence ranged from 0 to 57 %, and disease was the most significant cause of complete colony mortality ( n = 17). A positive correlation was found between water temperature and disease prevalence, but not incidence. Annual average disease prevalence and incidence remained constant during the study. Colonies generally showed an increase in the estimated amount of total living tissue from growth, but 25 (36.2 %) of the colonies died. Acropora palmata bleached in the USVI for the first time during the 2005 Caribbean bleaching event. Only one of the 23 colonies that bleached appeared to die directly from bleaching. In 2005, corals that bleached had greater disease prevalence than those that did not bleach. Just over half (52 %) of the colonies incurred some physical damage. Monitoring of fragments (broken branches) that were generated by physical damage through June 2007 showed that 46.1 % died and 28.4 % remained alive; the fragments that attached to the substrate survived longer than those that did not. Recent surveys showed an increase in the total number of colonies within the reef area, formed from both asexual and sexual reproduction. Genotype analysis of 48 of the originally monitored corals indicated that 43 grew from sexual recruits supporting the conclusion that both asexual and sexual reproduction are contributing to an increase in colony density at this site.

  2. The future of coral reefs in the US Virgin Islands: is Acropora palmata more likely to recover than Montastraea annularis complex?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.; Muller, Erinn; Spitzack, Tony; Miller, Jeff

    2008-01-01

    Coral diseases have played a major role in the degradation of coral reefs in the Caribbean, including those in the US Virgin Islands (USVI). In 2005, bleaching affected reefs throughout the Caribbean, and was especially severe on USVI reefs. Some corals began to regain their color as water temperatures cooled, but an outbreak of disease (primarily white plague) led to losses of over 60% of the total live coral cover. Montastraea annularis, the most abundant coral, was disproportionately affected, and decreased in relative abundance. The threatened species Acropora palmata bleached for the first time on record in the USVI but suffered less bleaching and less mortality from disease than M. annularis. Acropora palmata and M. annularis are the two most significant species in the USVI because of their structural role in the architecture of the reefs, the large size of their colonies, and their complex morphology. The future of the USVI reefs depends largely on their fate. Acropora palmata is more likely to recover than M. annularis for many reasons, including its faster growth rate, and its lower vulnerability to bleaching and disease.

  3. Ecological and genetic data indicate recovery of the endangered coral Acropora palmata in Los Roques, Southern Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zubillaga, A. L.; Márquez, L. M.; Cróquer, A.; Bastidas, C.

    2008-03-01

    The rapid decline of Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata has often been linked with coral reef deterioration in the Caribbean; yet, it remains controversial whether these species are currently recovering or still declining. In this study, the status of ten populations of A. palmata in Los Roques National Park (LRNP), Venezuela is presented. Six of these populations showed signs of recovery. Ten 80 m2 belt-transects were surveyed at each of the ten reef sites. Within belt-transects, each colony was measured (maximum diameter and height) and its status (healthy, diseased or injured) was recorded. Populations in recovery were defined by a dominance of small to medium-sized colonies in densities >1 colony per 10 m2, together with 75% undamaged colonies, a low prevalence of diseases (<10%), and a low density of predators (0.25 snails per colony). Based on allozyme analysis of seven polymorphic loci in four populations ( N = 30), a moderate to high-genetic connectivity among these populations ( F ST = 0.048) was found with a predominance of sexual over asexual reproduction ( N* : N = 1; N go : N = 0.93-1). Both ecological and molecular data support a good prognosis for the recovery of this species in Los Roques.

  4. Ocean acidification does not affect the physiology of the tropical coral Acropora digitifera during a 5-week experiment

    Science.gov (United States)

    Takahashi, A.; Kurihara, H.

    2013-03-01

    The increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration, which has resulted from the burning of fossil fuels, is being absorbed by the oceans and is causing ocean acidification. Ocean acidification involves the decrease of both the pH and the calcium carbonate saturation state. Ocean acidification is predicted to impact the physiology of marine organisms and reduce the calcification rates of corals. In the present study, we measured the rates of calcification, respiration, photosynthesis, and zooxanthellae density of the tropical coral Acropora digitifera under near-natural summertime temperature and sunlight for a 5-week period. We found that these key physiological parameters were not affected by both mid-CO2 (pCO2 = 744 ± 38, pH = 7.97 ± 0.02, Ωarag = 2.6 ± 0.1) and high-CO2 conditions (pCO2 = 2,142 ± 205, pH = 7.56 ± 0.04, Ωarag = 1.1 ± 0.2) throughout the 35 days experimental period. Additionally, there was no significant correlation between calcification rate and seawater aragonite saturation (Ωarag). These results suggest that the impacts of ocean acidification on corals physiology may be more complex than have been previously proposed.

  5. Calicoblastic neoplasms in Acropora palmata, with a review of reports on anomalies of growth and form in corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Peters, E C; Halas, J C; McCarty, H B

    1986-05-01

    Colonies of the elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), possessing raised, whitened, irregularly shaped skeletal protuberances, were discovered at Carysfort Reef and Grecian Rocks, Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary, Key Largo, FL. These lesions exhibited relatively rapid growth and spread along the branches, as polyps were overlaid by coenosteal skeletal material. Histopathological examinations of the soft tissues surrounding and extending into the skeletal masses revealed proliferation of gastrovascular canals and associated calicoblastic epidermis, with loss of normal polyp structures and zooxanthellae. The slightly atypical tumor calicoblasts were cuboidal to columnar, resembling those found in the rapidly growing apical tips. Stable carbon isotope ratios of skeletal samples revealed that the tumor skeleton was isotopically lighter than the skeleton in the normal or apical track regions, indicative of higher tissue metabolic rates and lack of carbon isotope fractionation by zooxanthellae. This condition appears to be a neoplasm of the coral, and it is proposed that it be classified "calicoblastic epithelioma." Several different types of abnormal skeletal deposition, possibly the result of neoplastic processes, have been reported to occur in stony corals and are here reviewed.

  6. A Study of the Pelagic Larval Duration of Acropora humilis, Coral Recruitment and Connectivity in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Khalil, Maha

    2011-12-12

    Combined knowledge of the pelagic larval duration of coral species and coral recruitment patterns can provide evidence of inter-reef connectivity and indicate a reef’s ability to recover. We attempted to determine the maximum pelagic larval duration of Acropora humilis. Larvae were reared in a controlled environment unfavorable for settlement. The larvae lived in a pelagic state for a maximum of 29 days, although this is probably an underestimate of actual longevity for this species. Given the information available from the literature with respect to larval dispersal rates, it is not expected that larvae with this longevity will disperse further than 10-20 km from their natal reef, if at all. A long-term recruitment monitoring project was also set up on Abu Shosha Reef, which suffered nearly complete coral loss due to a bleaching event in summer of 2010. In April 2011, 60 settlement plates were placed on the reef. In July, a total of 102 living scleractinian recruits were counted on the plates. While pocilloporids were the most dominant recruits on the reef (57.8%), about 20.6% of living recruits belonged to Acroporidae, a family whose live cover on the reef is extremely low (0.67%). However, the overall mean density of recruits was very low (1.7 living recruits/100cm2) compared to similar studies around the world despite the spawning season having just ended. Fish surveys showed herbivore biomass to be very low compared to other reef systems in the world, but densities were significantly higher than another reef in the Red Sea with about 10 times more live coral cover. Recovery from bleaching for Abu Shosha and similar reefs in the region may be very slow relative to rates observed in other parts of the world if recruitment rates and herbivore communities remain low.

  7. Lipid composition of positively buoyant eggs of reef building corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Arai, Iakayuki; Kato, Misako; Heyward, Andrew; Ikeda, Yutaka; Iizuka, Tokio; Maruyama, Tadashi

    1993-07-01

    Lipid composition of the eggs of three reef building corals, Acropora millepora, A. tenuis and Montipora digitata, were determined. Sixty to 70% of the egg dry weight was lipid, which consisted of wax esters (69.5 81.8%), triacylglycerols (1.1 8.4%) and polar lipids c/mainly phospholipids (11.9 13.2%). Montipora digitata also contained some polar lipids typical of the thylakoid membrane in chloroplasts, probably due to the presence of symbiotic zooxanthellae in the eggs. The wax esters appeared to be the major contributor to positive buoyancy of the eggs, and specific gravity of wax esters in A. millepora was estimated to be 0.92. Among the fatty acids of the wax esters, 34.9 51.3% was hexadecanoic acid (16:0) while the major fatty acids in polar lipids were octadecenoic acid (18:1), hexadecanoic acid (16:0), eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5) and eicosatetraenoic acid (20:4). The wax ester appears to be the main component of the 4.5 6.0 μm diameter lipid droplets which fill most of the central mass of the coral eggs.

  8. Variation in the health and biochemical condition of the coral Acropora tenuis along two water quality gradients on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rocker, Melissa M; Francis, David S; Fabricius, Katharina E; Willis, Bette L; Bay, Line K

    2017-06-30

    This study explores how plasticity in biochemical attributes, used as indicators of health and condition, enables the coral Acropora tenuis to respond to differing water quality regimes in inshore regions of the Great Barrier Reef. Health attributes were monitored along a strong and weak water quality gradient, each with three reefs at increasing distances from a major river source. Attributes differed significantly only along the strong gradient; corals grew fastest, had the least dense skeletons, highest symbiont densities and highest lipid concentrations closest to the river mouth, where water quality was poorest. High nutrient and particulate loads were only detrimental to skeletal density, which decreased as linear extension increased, highlighting a trade-off. Our study underscores the importance of assessing multiple health attributes in coral reef monitoring. For example, autotrophic indices are poor indicators of coral health and condition, but improve when combined with attributes like lipid content and biomass. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  9. Acute tissue death (white syndrome) affects the microenvironment of tabular Acropora corals

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Andersen, Sandra Breum; Vestergaard, Maj; Ainsworth, Tracy D.

    2010-01-01

    White syndrome (WS) is a collective term for coral diseases that cause acute tissue loss, resulting in apparently healthy tissue bordering on exposed skeleton. In this study, the microenvironmental condition and tissue structure of WS-affected tabular acroporid corals were assessed by O2...... microelectrodes and histological techniques. The high spatial resolution of the microelectrode measurements enabled an evaluation of the extent of physiological changes at, and 2 cm away from, the WS border. Respiration of the coral host was decreased on the skeleton-tissue border but was comparable...... to that of healthy corals only 2 cm away from the border. Histological data, however, showed a decrease in mesogloea thickness on and 2 cm away from the WS border, which correlates with a previously observed allocation of photoassimilates away from the WS border. We suggest that there are colony-wide negative...

  10. Growth dynamics of the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis: influence of host genotype, symbiont identity, colony size, and environmental setting.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lirman, Diego; Schopmeyer, Stephanie; Galvan, Victor; Drury, Crawford; Baker, Andrew C; Baums, Iliana B

    2014-01-01

    The drastic decline in the abundance of Caribbean acroporid corals (Acropora cervicornis, A. palmata) has prompted the listing of this genus as threatened as well as the development of a regional propagation and restoration program. Using in situ underwater nurseries, we documented the influence of coral genotype and symbiont identity, colony size, and propagation method on the growth and branching patterns of staghorn corals in Florida and the Dominican Republic. Individual tracking of> 1700 nursery-grown staghorn fragments and colonies from 37 distinct genotypes (identified using microsatellites) in Florida and the Dominican Republic revealed a significant positive relationship between size and growth, but a decreasing rate of productivity with increasing size. Pruning vigor (enhanced growth after fragmentation) was documented even in colonies that lost 95% of their coral tissue/skeleton, indicating that high productivity can be maintained within nurseries by sequentially fragmenting corals. A significant effect of coral genotype was documented for corals grown in a common-garden setting, with fast-growing genotypes growing up to an order of magnitude faster than slow-growing genotypes. Algal-symbiont identity established using qPCR techniques showed that clade A (likely Symbiodinium A3) was the dominant symbiont type for all coral genotypes, except for one coral genotype in the DR and two in Florida that were dominated by clade C, with A- and C-dominated genotypes having similar growth rates. The threatened Caribbean staghorn coral is capable of extremely fast growth, with annual productivity rates exceeding 5 cm of new coral produced for every cm of existing coral. This species benefits from high fragment survivorship coupled by the pruning vigor experienced by the parent colonies after fragmentation. These life-history characteristics make A. cervicornis a successful candidate nursery species and provide optimism for the potential role that active propagation

  11. Growth dynamics of the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis: influence of host genotype, symbiont identity, colony size, and environmental setting.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Diego Lirman

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: The drastic decline in the abundance of Caribbean acroporid corals (Acropora cervicornis, A. palmata has prompted the listing of this genus as threatened as well as the development of a regional propagation and restoration program. Using in situ underwater nurseries, we documented the influence of coral genotype and symbiont identity, colony size, and propagation method on the growth and branching patterns of staghorn corals in Florida and the Dominican Republic. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Individual tracking of> 1700 nursery-grown staghorn fragments and colonies from 37 distinct genotypes (identified using microsatellites in Florida and the Dominican Republic revealed a significant positive relationship between size and growth, but a decreasing rate of productivity with increasing size. Pruning vigor (enhanced growth after fragmentation was documented even in colonies that lost 95% of their coral tissue/skeleton, indicating that high productivity can be maintained within nurseries by sequentially fragmenting corals. A significant effect of coral genotype was documented for corals grown in a common-garden setting, with fast-growing genotypes growing up to an order of magnitude faster than slow-growing genotypes. Algal-symbiont identity established using qPCR techniques showed that clade A (likely Symbiodinium A3 was the dominant symbiont type for all coral genotypes, except for one coral genotype in the DR and two in Florida that were dominated by clade C, with A- and C-dominated genotypes having similar growth rates. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: The threatened Caribbean staghorn coral is capable of extremely fast growth, with annual productivity rates exceeding 5 cm of new coral produced for every cm of existing coral. This species benefits from high fragment survivorship coupled by the pruning vigor experienced by the parent colonies after fragmentation. These life-history characteristics make A. cervicornis a successful candidate

  12. Diurnal productivity and apparent 14C-calcification in the staghorn coral, Acropora acuminata

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Barnes, D.J.; Crossland, C.J.

    1978-01-01

    The rate of 14 C-fixation by Acropora acuminata tissues showed a marked increase after dawn. However, maximum 14 C-fixation was not achieved until early afternoon. The apparent 14 C-incorporation rate into the skeleton of whole branches reached a peak around noon. However, the major period of 14 C-deposition occurred from noon to mid-afternoon. The broad peak of 14 C-incorporation into skeleton of whole branches reflects two rate maxima; a late-morning maximum of zooxanthellae-free terminal calices, probably related to translocation of fixed carbon from basal tissues; and an early afternoon maximum for the zooxanthellae-containing basal areas of branches. (author)

  13. Calcification in the staghorn coral Acropora acuminata: variations in apparent skeletal incorporation of radioisotopes due to different methods of processing

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Crossland, C.J.; Barnes, D.J.

    1977-01-01

    Pieces of branch from the staghorn coral Acropora acuminata were incubated with 45 CaCl 2 and NaH 14 CO 3 under identical conditions in the light or in the dark. Specimens were then processed in different ways. All specimens were placed in N KOH to digest tissues. Some were placed in KOH immediately after incubation; others were placed in KOH after 2 h washing, or after 2 h extraction with methanol-chloroform-water. Specimens were washed in running fresh water or running seawater; some were killed in liquid N 2 before washing. Radioactivity associated with skeleton and tissues was determined. The method of processing profoundly affected the results. In dark incubations, there was up to a four-fold difference in apparent skeletal incorporation of 45 Ca ++ between average values obtained for the different treatments. For 14 C incorporation, there was a difference of up to 2.5 times. In light incubations, skeletal incorporation of both radioisotopes showed a two-fold difference between high and low average values obtained for the different treatments. (orig.) [de

  14. Temperature Dependence of Respiration in Larvae and Adult Colonies of the Corals Acropora tenuis and Pocillopora damicornis

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Dwi Haryanti

    2015-06-01

    Full Text Available Although algal symbionts can become a source of reactive oxygen species under stressful conditions, symbiotic planulae of the coral Pocillopora damicornis are highly tolerant to thermal stress compared with non-symbiotic planulae of Acropora tenuis. As a first step to understand how P. damicornis planulae attain high stress tolerance, we compared the respiration rate and temperature dependence between symbiotic planulae of P. damicornis and non-symbiotic planulae of A. tenuis, as well as between larvae and adult branches within each species. Larvae and adult branches of both species had similar temperature dependency of respiration rate, with the temperature coefficient (Q10 values of about 2. Planula larvae of P. damicornis had a significantly lower respiration rate than that of A. tenuis larvae at 25–30 °C, but not at 32 °C, whereas adult branches of P. damicornis had a significantly higher respiration rate than that of A. tenuis branches at all temperatures. Thus, P. damicornis larvae appear to be capable of reducing their respiration rate to a greater extent than A. tenuis larvae, which could partly explain why P. damicornis larvae had high survivorship under thermal stress, although other antioxidant or photoprotective mechanisms should be investigated in the future.

  15. Responses of reef building corals to microplastic exposure.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Reichert, Jessica; Schellenberg, Johannes; Schubert, Patrick; Wilke, Thomas

    2018-06-01

    Pollution of marine environments with microplastic particles (i.e. plastic fragments terrestrial origin, coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs are particularly threatened. Recent studies revealed that microplastic ingestion can have adverse effects on marine invertebrates. However, little is known about its effects on small-polyp stony corals that are the main framework builders in coral reefs. The goal of this study is to characterise how different coral species I) respond to microplastic particles and whether the exposure might II) lead to health effects. Therefore, six small-polyp stony coral species belonging to the genera Acropora, Pocillopora, and Porites were exposed to microplastics (polyethylene, size 37-163 μm, concentration ca. 4000 particles L -1 ) over four weeks, and responses and effects on health were documented. The study showed that the corals responded differentially to microplastics. Cleaning mechanisms (direct interaction, mucus production) but also feeding interactions (i.e. interaction with mesenterial filaments, ingestion, and egestion) were observed. Additionally, passive contact through overgrowth was documented. In five of the six studied species, negative effects on health (i.e. bleaching and tissue necrosis) were reported. We here provide preliminary knowledge about coral-microplastic-interactions. The results call for further investigations of the effects of realistic microplastic concentrations on growth, reproduction, and survival of stony corals. This might lead to a better understanding of resilience capacities in coral reef ecosystems. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  16. Species specificity of bacteria associated to the brown seaweeds Lobophora (Dictyotales, Phaeophyceae and their potential for induction of rapid coral bleaching in Acropora muricata

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Christophe William Vieira

    2016-03-01

    Full Text Available While reef degradation is occurring worldwide, it is not uncommon to see phase shifts from coral to macroalgal dominated reefs. Numerous studies have addressed the mechanisms by which macroalgae may outcompete corals and a few recent studies highlighted the putative role of bacteria at the interface between macroalgae and corals. Some studies suggest that macroalgae may act as vectors and/or foster proliferation of microorganisms pathogenic for corals. Using a combination of high throughput sequencing, bacterial culturing and in situ bioassays we question if the adversity of macroalgal-associated bacteria to corals is mediated by specific bacterial taxa. Using Illumina sequencing, we characterized and compared the bacterial community from two Lobophora (Dictyotales, Phaeophyceae species. The two species presented distinctive bacterial communities. Both species shared approximately half of their OTUs, mainly the most abundant bacteria. Species-specific OTUs belong to Planctomycetes, Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes. In total, 16 culturable bacterial strain were isolated and identified from the Lobophora surface, consisting of 10 genera (from 9 families, 4 classes and 3 phyla, some of which are not known as, but are related to pathogens involved in coral diseases, and others naturally associated to corals. When patches of marine agar with 24 h cultures of each of these bacteria were placed in direct contact with the branches of the scleractinian coral Acropora muricata, they caused severe bleaching after 24 h exposure. Results suggest that regardless of taxonomic affinities, increase in density of any bacteria can be adverse to corals. Nevertheless, the microbial community associated to macroalgal surface may not represent a threat to corals, because the specific bacterial screening and control exerted by the alga preventing specific bacterial proliferation.

  17. Dongsha Atoll: A potential thermal refuge for reef-building corals in the South China Sea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tkachenko, Konstantin S; Soong, Keryea

    2017-06-01

    Dongsha Atoll (also known as the Pratas Islands), the northernmost atoll in the South China Sea, experiences two contrasting physical phenomena: repetitive anomalies of the sea surface temperature exceeding the coral bleaching threshold and regular effects of the world's strongest internal waves resulting in the rhythmic upwelling of cold deep waters at the outer reef slopes of the atoll. This unique combination may result in significant differences in coral species composition and structure between the lagoon and forereef. Surveys conducted in August-September 2016 at 12 study sites in the 2-15 m depth range at Dongsha Atoll revealed a clear spatial separation between 'thermally-susceptible' stony coral genera, including Acropora, Pocillopora and Montipora, which mainly inhabited the forereef, and 'thermally-resistant' genera, including massive Porites, foliaceous Echinopora, Pavona and Turbinaria, which mainly resided in the lagoon. The mean coral cover and species richness on the forereef were respectively 1.8 and 1.4 times higher than those in the lagoon (61.3% and 98 species on the forereef vs. 34.2% and 69 species in the lagoon). Coral mortality rates, expressed as the ratio of dead to live stony corals, showed the same pattern (0.4 in the lagoon vs. 0.009 on the forereef). Furthermore, in a laboratory experiment, 'thermally-susceptible' taxa from the lagoon, (e.g. Pocillopora verrucosa and P. damicornis), exhibited higher resistance to bleaching than did their counterparts from the forereef. The present findings indicate that Dongsha Atoll is a potential thermal refuge for reef-building corals in the northern South China Sea and reveal the development of resilience and resistance to bleaching in coral communities of the lagoon. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  18. Molecular characterization of larval development from fertilization to metamorphosis in a reef-building coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Strader, Marie E; Aglyamova, Galina V; Matz, Mikhail V

    2018-01-04

    Molecular mechanisms underlying coral larval competence, the ability of larvae to respond to settlement cues, determine their dispersal potential and are potential targets of natural selection. Here, we profiled competence, fluorescence and genome-wide gene expression in embryos and larvae of the reef-building coral Acropora millepora daily throughout 12 days post-fertilization. Gene expression associated with competence was positively correlated with transcriptomic response to the natural settlement cue, confirming that mature coral larvae are "primed" for settlement. Rise of competence through development was accompanied by up-regulation of sensory and signal transduction genes such as ion channels, genes involved in neuropeptide signaling, and G-protein coupled receptor (GPCRs). A drug screen targeting components of GPCR signaling pathways confirmed a role in larval settlement behavior and metamorphosis. These results gives insight into the molecular complexity underlying these transitions and reveals receptors and pathways that, if altered by changing environments, could affect dispersal capabilities of reef-building corals. In addition, this dataset provides a toolkit for asking broad questions about sensory capacity in multicellular animals and the evolution of development.

  19. Effects of High Dissolved Inorganic and Organic Carbon Availability on the Physiology of the Hard Coral Acropora millepora from the Great Barrier Reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Friedrich W Meyer

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are facing major global and local threats due to climate change-induced increases in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC and because of land-derived increases in organic and inorganic nutrients. Recent research revealed that high availability of labile dissolved organic carbon (DOC negatively affects scleractinian corals. Studies on the interplay of these factors, however, are lacking, but urgently needed to understand coral reef functioning under present and near future conditions. This experimental study investigated the individual and combined effects of ambient and high DIC (pCO2 403 μatm/ pHTotal 8.2 and 996 μatm/pHTotal 7.8 and DOC (added as Glucose 0 and 294 μmol L-1, background DOC concentration of 83 μmol L-1 availability on the physiology (net and gross photosynthesis, respiration, dark and light calcification, and growth of the scleractinian coral Acropora millepora (Ehrenberg, 1834 from the Great Barrier Reef over a 16 day interval. High DIC availability did not affect photosynthesis, respiration and light calcification, but significantly reduced dark calcification and growth by 50 and 23%, respectively. High DOC availability reduced net and gross photosynthesis by 51% and 39%, respectively, but did not affect respiration. DOC addition did not influence calcification, but significantly increased growth by 42%. Combination of high DIC and high DOC availability did not affect photosynthesis, light calcification, respiration or growth, but significantly decreased dark calcification when compared to both controls and DIC treatments. On the ecosystem level, high DIC concentrations may lead to reduced accretion and growth of reefs dominated by Acropora that under elevated DOC concentrations will likely exhibit reduced primary production rates, ultimately leading to loss of hard substrate and reef erosion. It is therefore important to consider the potential impacts of elevated DOC and DIC simultaneously to assess real world

  20. Natural disease resistance in threatened staghorn corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Steven V Vollmer

    Full Text Available Disease epidemics have caused extensive damage to tropical coral reefs and to the reef-building corals themselves, yet nothing is known about the abilities of the coral host to resist disease infection. Understanding the potential for natural disease resistance in corals is critically important, especially in the Caribbean where the two ecologically dominant shallow-water corals, Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, have suffered an unprecedented mass die-off due to White Band Disease (WBD, and are now listed as threatened under the US Threatened Species Act and as critically endangered under the IUCN Red List criteria. Here we examine the potential for natural resistance to WBD in the staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis by combining microsatellite genotype information with in situ transmission assays and field monitoring of WBD on tagged genotypes. We show that six percent of staghorn coral genotypes (3 out of 49 are resistant to WBD. This natural resistance to WBD in staghorn corals represents the first evidence of host disease resistance in scleractinian corals and demonstrates that staghorn corals have an innate ability to resist WBD infection. These resistant staghorn coral genotypes may explain why pockets of Acropora have been able to survive the WBD epidemic. Understanding disease resistance in these corals may be the critical link to restoring populations of these once dominant corals throughout their range.

  1. Metabolite profiling of symbiont and host during thermal stress and bleaching in the coral Acropora aspera

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hillyer, Katie E.; Dias, Daniel A.; Lutz, Adrian; Wilkinson, Shaun P.; Roessner, Ute; Davy, Simon K.

    2017-03-01

    Rising seawater temperatures pose a significant threat to the persistence of coral reefs. Despite the importance of these systems, major gaps remain in our understanding of how thermal stress and bleaching affect the metabolic networks that underpin holobiont function. We applied gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) metabolomics to detect changes in the intracellular free metabolite pools (polar and semi-polar compounds) of in hospite dinoflagellate symbionts and their coral hosts (and any associated microorganisms) during early- and late-stage thermal bleaching (a reduction of approximately 50 and 70% in symbiont density, respectively). We detected characteristic changes to the metabolite profiles of each symbiotic partner associated with individual cellular responses to thermal, oxidative and osmotic stress, which progressed with the severity of bleaching. Alterations were also indicative of changes to energy-generating and biosynthesis pathways in both partners, with a shift to the increased catabolism of lipid stores. Specifically, in symbiont intracellular metabolite pools, we observed accumulations of multiple free fatty acids, plus the chloroplast-associated antioxidant alpha-tocopherol. In the host, we detected a decline in the abundance of pools of multiple carbohydrates, amino acids and intermediates, in addition to the antioxidant ascorbate. These findings further our understanding of the metabolic changes that occur to symbiont and host (and its associated microorganisms) during thermal bleaching. These findings also provide further insight into the largely undescribed roles of free metabolite pools in cellular homeostasis, signalling and acclimation to thermal stress in the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis.

  2. Proteomics links the redox state to calcium signaling during bleaching of the scleractinian coral Acropora microphthalma on exposure to high solar irradiance and thermal stress.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Weston, Andrew J; Dunlap, Walter C; Beltran, Victor H; Starcevic, Antonio; Hranueli, Daslav; Ward, Malcolm; Long, Paul F

    2015-03-01

    Shipboard experiments were each performed over a 2 day period to examine the proteomic response of the symbiotic coral Acropora microphthalma exposed to acute conditions of high temperature/low light or high light/low temperature stress. During these treatments, corals had noticeably bleached. The photosynthetic performance of residual algal endosymbionts was severely impaired but showed signs of recovery in both treatments by the end of the second day. Changes in the coral proteome were determined daily and, using recently available annotated genome sequences, the individual contributions of the coral host and algal endosymbionts could be extracted from these data. Quantitative changes in proteins relevant to redox state and calcium metabolism are presented. Notably, expression of common antioxidant proteins was not detected from the coral host but present in the algal endosymbiont proteome. Possible roles for elevated carbonic anhydrase in the coral host are considered: to restore intracellular pH diminished by loss of photosynthetic activity, to indirectly limit intracellular calcium influx linked with enhanced calmodulin expression to impede late-stage symbiont exocytosis, or to enhance inorganic carbon transport to improve the photosynthetic performance of algal symbionts that remain in hospite. Protein effectors of calcium-dependent exocytosis were present in both symbiotic partners. No caspase-family proteins associated with host cell apoptosis, with exception of the autophagy chaperone HSP70, were detected, suggesting that algal loss and photosynthetic dysfunction under these experimental conditions were not due to host-mediated phytosymbiont destruction. Instead, bleaching occurred by symbiont exocytosis and loss of light-harvesting pigments of algae that remain in hospite. These proteomic data are, therefore, consistent with our premise that coral endosymbionts can mediate their own retention or departure from the coral host, which may manifest as

  3. Effects of alumina refinery wastewater and signature metal constituents at the upper thermal tolerance of: 2. The early life stages of the coral Acropora tenuis

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Negri, Andrew P.; Harford, Andrew J.; Parry, David L.; Dam, Rick A. van

    2011-01-01

    Research highlights: →Methodology to assess relevant toxicants to sensitive early life histories of coral. → Explored the thermal sensitivity of fertilisation and larval metamorphosis in a coral. → First study to identify IC 50 s for Al, Ga and V in corals (at summer temperature). → First study to test the effects of an alumina outfall wastewater on coral. → Found additive effects of wastewater and high SST on fertilisation and metamorphosis. - Abstract: The success of early life history transitions of the coral Acropora tenuis were used as endpoints to evaluate thermal stress and the effects of wastewater discharged to a tropical marine environment. The studies assessed the effects of: (i) temperature; (ii) three signature metals of the wastewater, aluminium (Al), vanadium (V) and gallium (Ga); and (iii) the wastewater (at 27 o C and 32 o C) on fertilisation and larval metamorphosis. The median inhibition temperatures for fertilisation and metamorphosis were 32.8 o C and 33.0 o C, respectively. Fertilisation IC 50 s for Al, V and Ga were 2997, 2884 and 3430 μg L -1 , respectively. Metamorphosis IC 50 s for Al, V and Ga were 1945, 675 and 3566 μg L -1 , respectively. The wastewater only affected fertilisation and metamorphosis at moderate concentrations (IC 50 s = 63% and 67%, v/v, respectively, at 27 o C), posing a low risk to this species in the field. The effects of wastewater and temperature on fertilisation and metamorphosis were additive.

  4. Bacterial community structure associated with white band disease in the elkhorn coral Acropora palmata determined using culture-independent 16S rRNA techniques.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pantos, Olga; Bythell, John C

    2006-03-23

    Culture-independent molecular (16S ribosomal RNA) techniques showed distinct differences in bacterial communities associated with white band disease (WBD) Type I and healthy elkhorn coral Acropora palmata. Differences were apparent at all levels, with a greater diversity present in tissues of diseased colonies. The bacterial community associated with remote, non-diseased coral was distinct from the apparently healthy tissues of infected corals several cm from the disease lesion. This demonstrates a whole-organism effect from what appears to be a localised disease lesion, an effect that has also been recently demonstrated in white plague-like disease in star coral Montastraea annularis. The pattern of bacterial community structure changes was similar to that recently demonstrated for white plague-like disease and black band disease. Some of the changes are likely to be explained by the colonisation of dead and degrading tissues by a micro-heterotroph community adapted to the decomposition of coral tissues. However, specific ribosomal types that are absent from healthy tissues appear consistently in all samples of each of the diseases. These ribotypes are closely related members of a group of alpha-proteobacteria that cause disease, notably juvenile oyster disease, in other marine organisms. It is clearly important that members of this group are isolated for challenge experiments to determine their role in the diseases.

  5. Major cellular and physiological impacts of ocean acidification on a reef building coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kaniewska, Paulina; Campbell, Paul R; Kline, David I; Rodriguez-Lanetty, Mauricio; Miller, David J; Dove, Sophie; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2012-01-01

    As atmospheric levels of CO(2) increase, reef-building corals are under greater stress from both increased sea surface temperatures and declining sea water pH. To date, most studies have focused on either coral bleaching due to warming oceans or declining calcification due to decreasing oceanic carbonate ion concentrations. Here, through the use of physiology measurements and cDNA microarrays, we show that changes in pH and ocean chemistry consistent with two scenarios put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) drive major changes in gene expression, respiration, photosynthesis and symbiosis of the coral, Acropora millepora, before affects on biomineralisation are apparent at the phenotype level. Under high CO(2) conditions corals at the phenotype level lost over half their Symbiodinium populations, and had a decrease in both photosynthesis and respiration. Changes in gene expression were consistent with metabolic suppression, an increase in oxidative stress, apoptosis and symbiont loss. Other expression patterns demonstrate upregulation of membrane transporters, as well as the regulation of genes involved in membrane cytoskeletal interactions and cytoskeletal remodeling. These widespread changes in gene expression emphasize the need to expand future studies of ocean acidification to include a wider spectrum of cellular processes, many of which may occur before impacts on calcification.

  6. Evidence for multiple phototransduction pathways in a reef-building coral.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Benjamin Mason

    Full Text Available Photosensitive behaviors and circadian rhythms are well documented in reef-building corals and their larvae, but the mechanisms responsible for photoreception have not been described in these organisms. Here we report the cloning, immunolocalization, and partial biochemical characterization of three opsins and four G proteins expressed in planulae of the Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata. All three opsins (acropsins 1-3 possess conserved seven-pass transmembrane structure, and localize to distinct regions of coral planulae. Acropsin 1 was localized in the larval endoderm, while acropsin 2 was localized in solitary cells of the ectoderm. These rod-like cells displayed a remarkably polarized distribution, concentrated in the aboral end. We also cloned four A. palmata G protein alpha subunits. Three were homologs of vertebrate Gi, Go, and Gq. The fourth is presumably a novel G protein, which displays only 40% identity with the nearest known G protein, and we termed it Gc for "cnidarian". We show that Gc and Gq can be activated by acropsins in a light-dependent manner in vitro. This indicates that at least acropsins 1 and 3 can form functional photoreceptors and potentially may play a role in color preference during settlement, vertical positioning and other light-guided behaviors observed in coral larvae.

  7. Evidence for multiple phototransduction pathways in a reef-building coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mason, Benjamin; Schmale, Michael; Gibbs, Patrick; Miller, Margaret W; Wang, Qiang; Levay, Konstantin; Shestopalov, Valery; Slepak, Vladlen Z

    2012-01-01

    Photosensitive behaviors and circadian rhythms are well documented in reef-building corals and their larvae, but the mechanisms responsible for photoreception have not been described in these organisms. Here we report the cloning, immunolocalization, and partial biochemical characterization of three opsins and four G proteins expressed in planulae of the Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata. All three opsins (acropsins 1-3) possess conserved seven-pass transmembrane structure, and localize to distinct regions of coral planulae. Acropsin 1 was localized in the larval endoderm, while acropsin 2 was localized in solitary cells of the ectoderm. These rod-like cells displayed a remarkably polarized distribution, concentrated in the aboral end. We also cloned four A. palmata G protein alpha subunits. Three were homologs of vertebrate Gi, Go, and Gq. The fourth is presumably a novel G protein, which displays only 40% identity with the nearest known G protein, and we termed it Gc for "cnidarian". We show that Gc and Gq can be activated by acropsins in a light-dependent manner in vitro. This indicates that at least acropsins 1 and 3 can form functional photoreceptors and potentially may play a role in color preference during settlement, vertical positioning and other light-guided behaviors observed in coral larvae.

  8. Major cellular and physiological impacts of ocean acidification on a reef building coral.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Paulina Kaniewska

    Full Text Available As atmospheric levels of CO(2 increase, reef-building corals are under greater stress from both increased sea surface temperatures and declining sea water pH. To date, most studies have focused on either coral bleaching due to warming oceans or declining calcification due to decreasing oceanic carbonate ion concentrations. Here, through the use of physiology measurements and cDNA microarrays, we show that changes in pH and ocean chemistry consistent with two scenarios put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC drive major changes in gene expression, respiration, photosynthesis and symbiosis of the coral, Acropora millepora, before affects on biomineralisation are apparent at the phenotype level. Under high CO(2 conditions corals at the phenotype level lost over half their Symbiodinium populations, and had a decrease in both photosynthesis and respiration. Changes in gene expression were consistent with metabolic suppression, an increase in oxidative stress, apoptosis and symbiont loss. Other expression patterns demonstrate upregulation of membrane transporters, as well as the regulation of genes involved in membrane cytoskeletal interactions and cytoskeletal remodeling. These widespread changes in gene expression emphasize the need to expand future studies of ocean acidification to include a wider spectrum of cellular processes, many of which may occur before impacts on calcification.

  9. Younger Dryas sea level and meltwater pulse 1B recorded in Barbados reef crest coral Acropora palmata

    Science.gov (United States)

    Abdul, N. A.; Mortlock, R. A.; Wright, J. D.; Fairbanks, R. G.

    2016-02-01

    The Younger Dryas climate event occurred during the middle of the last deglacial cycle and is marked by an abrupt shift in the North Atlantic polar front almost to its former glacial position, trending east to west. Using high-precision and high-accuracy U-Th-dated Barbados reef crest coral, Acropora palmata, we generate a detailed sea level record from 13.9 to 9000 years before present (kyr B.P.) and reconstruct the ice volume response to the Younger Dryas cooling. From the mid-Allerød (13.9 kyr B.P.) to the end of the Younger Dryas (11.65 kyr B.P.), rates of sea level rise decreased smoothly from 20 mm yr-1 to 4 mm yr-1, culminating in a 400 year "slow stand" before accelerating into meltwater pulse 1B (MWP-1B). The MWP-1B event at Barbados is better constrained as beginning by 11.45 kyr B.P. and ending at 11.1 kyr B.P. during which time sea level rose 14 ± 2 m and rates of sea level rise reached 40 mm yr-1. We propose that MWP-1B is the direct albeit lagged response of the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets to the rapid warming marking the end of the Younger Dryas coinciding with rapid warming in the circum-North Atlantic region and the polar front shift from its zonal to meridional position 11.65 kyr B.P. As predicted by glaciological models, the ice sheet response to rapid North Atlantic warming was lagged by 400 years due to the thermal inertia of large ice sheets. The regional circum-North Atlantic Younger Dryas climate event is elevated to a global response through sea level changes, starting with the global slowdown in sea level rise during the Younger Dryas and culminating with MWP-1B. No meltwater pulses are evident at the initiation of the Younger Dryas climate event as is often speculated.

  10. Expression of hsp70, hsp90 and hsf1 in the reef coral Acropora digitifera under prospective acidified conditions over the next several decades

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Masako Nakamura

    2012-02-01

    Ocean acidification is an ongoing threat for marine organisms due to the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. Seawater acidification has a serious impact on physiologic processes in marine organisms at all life stages. On the other hand, potential tolerance to external pH changes has been reported in coral larvae. Information about the possible mechanisms underlying such tolerance responses, however, is scarce. In the present study, we examined the effects of acidified seawater on the larvae of Acropora digitifera at the molecular level. We targeted two heat shock proteins, Hsp70 and Hsp90, and a heat shock transcription factor, Hsf1, because of their importance in stress responses and in early life developmental stages. Coral larvae were maintained under the ambient and elevated CO2 conditions that are expected to occur within next 100 years, and then we evaluated the expression of hsps and hsf1 by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR. Expression levels of these molecules significantly differed among target genes, but they did not change significantly between CO2 conditions. These findings indicate that the expression of hsps is not changed due to external pH changes, and suggest that tolerance to acidified seawater in coral larvae may not be related to hsp expression.

  11. Coral larvae for restoration and research: a large-scale method for rearing Acropora millepora larvae, inducing settlement, and establishing symbiosis

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    F. Joseph Pollock

    2017-09-01

    Full Text Available Here we describe an efficient and effective technique for rearing sexually-derived coral propagules from spawning through larval settlement and symbiont uptake with minimal impact on natural coral populations. We sought to maximize larval survival while minimizing expense and daily husbandry maintenance by experimentally determining optimized conditions and protocols for gamete fertilization, larval cultivation, induction of larval settlement by crustose coralline algae, and inoculation of newly settled juveniles with their dinoflagellate symbiont Symbiodinium. Larval rearing densities at or below 0.2 larvae mL−1 were found to maximize larval survival and settlement success in culture tanks while minimizing maintenance effort. Induction of larval settlement via the addition of a ground mixture of diverse crustose coralline algae (CCA is recommended, given the challenging nature of in situ CCA identification and our finding that non settlement-inducing CCA assemblages do not inhibit larval settlement if suitable assemblages are present. Although order of magnitude differences in infectivity were found between common Great Barrier Reef Symbiodinium clades C and D, no significant differences in Symbiodinium uptake were observed between laboratory-cultured and wild-harvested symbionts in each case. The technique presented here for Acropora millepora can be adapted for research and restoration efforts in a wide range of broadcast spawning coral species.

  12. Suppression of NF-κB signal pathway by NLRC3-like protein in stony coral Acropora aculeus under heat stress.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zhou, Zhi; Wu, Yibo; Zhang, Chengkai; Li, Can; Chen, Guangmei; Yu, Xiaopeng; Shi, Xiaowei; Xu, Yanlai; Wang, Lingui; Huang, Bo

    2017-08-01

    Heat stress is the most common factor for coral bleaching, which has increased both in frequency and severity due to global warming. In the present study, the stony coral Acropora aculeus was subjected to acute heat stress and entire transcriptomes were sequenced via the next generation sequencing platform. Four paired-end libraries were constructed and sequenced in two groups, including a control and a heat stress group. A total of 120,319,751 paired-end reads with lengths of 2 × 100 bp were assembled and 55,021 coral-derived genes were obtained. After read mapping and abundance estimation, 9110 differentially expressed genes were obtained in the comparison between the control and heat stress group, including 4465 significantly upregulated and 4645 significantly downregulated genes. Twenty-three GO terms in the Biological Process category were overrepresented for significantly upregulated genes, and divided into six groups according to their relationship. These three groups were related to the NF-κB signal pathway, and the remaining three groups were relevant for pathogen response, immunocyte activation and protein ubiquitination. Forty-three common genes were found in four GO terms, which were directly related to the NF-κB signal pathway. These included 2 NACHT, LRR, PYD domains-containing protein, 5 nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-containing protein, 29 NLRC3-like protein, 4 NLRC5-like protein, and 3 uncharacterized protein. For significantly downregulated genes, 27 overrepresented GO terms were found in the Biological Process category, which were relevant to protein ubiquitination and ATP metabolism. Our results indicate that heat stress suppressed the immune response level via the NLRC3-like protein, the fine-tuning of protein turnover activity, and ATP metabolism. This might disrupt the balance of coral-zooxanthellae symbiosis and result in the bleaching of the coral A. aculeus. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  13. Catabolite regulation of enzymatic activities in a white pox pathogen and commensal bacteria during growth on mucus polymers from the coral Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Krediet, Cory J; Ritchie, Kim B; Teplitski, Max

    2009-11-16

    Colonization of host mucus surfaces is one of the first steps in the establishment of coral-associated microbial communities. Coral mucus contains a sulfated glycoprotein (in which oligosaccharide decorations are connected to the polypeptide backbone by a mannose residue) and molecules that result from its degradation. Mucus is utilized as a growth substrate by commensal and pathogenic organisms. Two representative coral commensals, Photobacterium mandapamensis and Halomonas meridiana, differed from a white pox pathogen Serratia marcescens PDL100 in the pattern with which they utilized mucus polymers of Acropora palmata. Incubation with the mucus polymer increased mannopyranosidase activity in S. marcescens, suggestive of its ability to cleave off oligosaccharide side chains. With the exception of glucosidase and N-acetyl galactosaminidase, glycosidases in S. marcescens were subject to catabolite regulation by galactose, glucose, arabinose, mannose and N-acetyl-glucosamine. In commensal P. mandapamensis, at least 10 glycosidases were modestly induced during incubation on coral mucus. Galactose, arabinose, mannose, but not glucose or N-acetyl-glucosamine had a repressive effect on glycosidases in P. mandapamensis. Incubation with the mucus polymers upregulated 3 enzymatic activities in H. meridiana; glucose and galactose appear to be the preferred carbon source in this bacterium. Although all these bacteria were capable of producing the same glycosidases, the differences in the preferred carbon sources and patterns of enzymatic activities induced during growth on the mucus polymer in the presence of these carbon sources suggest that to establish themselves within the coral mucus surface layer commensals and pathogens rely on different enzymatic activities.

  14. A Study of the Pelagic Larval Duration of Acropora humilis, Coral Recruitment and Connectivity in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Khalil, Maha

    2011-01-01

    Combined knowledge of the pelagic larval duration of coral species and coral recruitment patterns can provide evidence of inter-reef connectivity and indicate a reef’s ability to recover. We attempted to determine the maximum pelagic larval duration

  15. Conservation genetics and the resilience of reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Gates, Ruth D

    2006-11-01

    Coral reefs have suffered long-term decline due to a range of anthropogenic disturbances and are now also under threat from climate change. For appropriate management of these vulnerable and valuable ecosystems it is important to understand the factors and processes that determine their resilience and that of the organisms inhabiting them, as well as those that have led to existing patterns of coral reef biodiversity. The scleractinian (stony) corals deposit the structural framework that supports and promotes the maintenance of biological diversity and complexity of coral reefs, and as such, are major components of these ecosystems. The success of reef-building corals is related to their obligate symbiotic association with dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium. These one-celled algal symbionts (zooxanthellae) live in the endodermal tissues of their coral host, provide most of the host's energy budget and promote rapid calcification. Furthermore, zooxanthellae are the main primary producers on coral reefs due to the oligotrophic nature of the surrounding waters. In this review paper, we summarize and critically evaluate studies that have employed genetics and/or molecular biology in examining questions relating to the evolution and ecology of reef-building corals and their algal endosymbionts, and that bear relevance to coral reef conservation. We discuss how these studies can focus future efforts, and examine how these approaches enhance our understanding of the resilience of reef-building corals.

  16. Tissue mortality by Caribbean ciliate infection and white band disease in three reef-building coral species

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Alejandra Verde

    2016-07-01

    Full Text Available Caribbean ciliate infection (CCI and white band disease (WBD are diseases that affect a multitude of coral hosts and are associated with rapid rates of tissue losses, thus contributing to declining coral cover in Caribbean reefs. In this study we compared tissue mortality rates associated to CCI in three species of corals with different growth forms: Orbicella faveolata (massive-boulder, O. annularis (massive-columnar and Acropora cervicornis (branching. We also compared mortality rates in colonies of A. cervicornis bearing WBD and CCI. The study was conducted at two locations in Los Roques Archipelago National Park between April 2012 and March 2013. In A. cervicornis, the rate of tissue loss was similar between WBD (0.8 ± 1 mm/day, mean ± SD and CCI (0.7 ± 0.9 mm/day. However, mortality rate by CCI in A. cervicornis was faster than in the massive species O. faveolata (0.5 ± 0.6 mm/day and O. annularis (0.3 ± 0.3 mm/day. Tissue regeneration was at least fifteen times slower than the mortality rates for both diseases regardless of coral species. This is the first study providing coral tissue mortality and regeneration rates associated to CCI in colonies with massive morphologies, and it highlights the risks of further cover losses of the three most important reef-building species in the Caribbean.

  17. Genome-wide survey of single-nucleotide polymorphisms reveals fine-scale population structure and signs of selection in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Meghann K. Devlin-Durante

    2017-11-01

    Full Text Available The advent of next-generation sequencing tools has made it possible to conduct fine-scale surveys of population differentiation and genome-wide scans for signatures of selection in non-model organisms. Such surveys are of particular importance in sharply declining coral species, since knowledge of population boundaries and signs of local adaptation can inform restoration and conservation efforts. Here, we use genome-wide surveys of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, to reveal fine-scale population structure and infer the major barrier to gene flow that separates the eastern and western Caribbean populations between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. The exact location of this break had been subject to discussion because two previous studies based on microsatellite data had come to differing conclusions. We investigate this contradiction by analyzing an extended set of 11 microsatellite markers including the five previously employed and discovered that one of the original microsatellite loci is apparently under selection. Exclusion of this locus reconciles the results from the SNP and the microsatellite datasets. Scans for outlier loci in the SNP data detected 13 candidate loci under positive selection, however there was no correlation between available environmental parameters and genetic distance. Together, these results suggest that reef restoration efforts should use local sources and utilize existing functional variation among geographic regions in ex situ crossing experiments to improve stress resistance of this species.

  18. Genome-wide survey of single-nucleotide polymorphisms reveals fine-scale population structure and signs of selection in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Devlin-Durante, Meghann K; Baums, Iliana B

    2017-01-01

    The advent of next-generation sequencing tools has made it possible to conduct fine-scale surveys of population differentiation and genome-wide scans for signatures of selection in non-model organisms. Such surveys are of particular importance in sharply declining coral species, since knowledge of population boundaries and signs of local adaptation can inform restoration and conservation efforts. Here, we use genome-wide surveys of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata , to reveal fine-scale population structure and infer the major barrier to gene flow that separates the eastern and western Caribbean populations between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. The exact location of this break had been subject to discussion because two previous studies based on microsatellite data had come to differing conclusions. We investigate this contradiction by analyzing an extended set of 11 microsatellite markers including the five previously employed and discovered that one of the original microsatellite loci is apparently under selection. Exclusion of this locus reconciles the results from the SNP and the microsatellite datasets. Scans for outlier loci in the SNP data detected 13 candidate loci under positive selection, however there was no correlation between available environmental parameters and genetic distance. Together, these results suggest that reef restoration efforts should use local sources and utilize existing functional variation among geographic regions in ex situ crossing experiments to improve stress resistance of this species.

  19. Juvenile corals can acquire more carbon from high-performance algal symbionts

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Cantin, N. E.; van Oppen, M. J. H.; Willis, B. L.; Mieog, J. C.; Negri, A. P.

    Algal endosymbionts of the genus Symbiodinium play a key role in the nutrition of reef building corals and strongly affect the thermal tolerance and growth rate of the animal host. This study reports that (14)C photosynthate incorporation into juvenile coral tissues was doubled in Acropora millepora

  20. Population assessment of Acropora palmata (Scleractinia: Acroporidae: relationship between habitat and reef associated species

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    K. Martínez

    2014-09-01

    Full Text Available Three decades ago, Acropora palmata was one of the main reef-building coral species throughout the Caribbean, forming an essential component of the structural complexity of shallow coral reef habitats. These colonies still provide microhabitats for settlement, food and shelter to many vertebrates and invertebrates. The recent decline of A. palmata has been followed by a significant loss in spatial heterogeneity and possibly in species diversity. Studies addressing whether dead and living stands of Acropora hold different fish and benthic assemblages are scarce. The status of Acropora colonies and their associated species were assessed in October 2012, at two reef zones of Cayo Sombrero, Venezuela. Visual censuses of fish abundance and the number of macrofaunal individuals were recorded for both live and dead zones. Living Acropora colonies had the lowest abundance (˂31%. In both zoned the fish community was dominated by damselfishes (˂53% and wrasses (˂36%, the benthic macrofauna by peracarid crustaceans (˂40% and polychaetes (˂38%. Fish and benthic communities were not correlated with the condition (live or dead of the Acropora habitats; possibly branching structures provide the necessary shelter and protection no matter if they are dead or alive. More replication is necessary to test this unexpected result.

  1. Host population genetic structure and zooxanthellae diversity of two reef-building coral species along the Florida Reef Tract and wider Caribbean

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baums, I. B.; Johnson, M. E.; Devlin-Durante, M. K.; Miller, M. W.

    2010-12-01

    In preparation for a large-scale coral restoration project, we surveyed host population genetic structure and symbiont diversity of two reef-building corals in four reef zones along the Florida reef tract (FRT). There was no evidence for coral population subdivision along the FRT in Acropora cervicornis or Montastraea faveolata based on microsatellite markers. However, in A. cervicornis, significant genetic differentiation was apparent when extending the analysis to broader scales (Caribbean). Clade diversity of the zooxanthellae differed along the FRT. A. cervicornis harbored mostly clade A with clade D zooxanthellae being prominent in colonies growing inshore and in the mid-channel zones that experience greater temperature fluctuations and receive significant nutrient and sediment input. M. faveolata harbored a more diverse array of symbionts, and variation in symbiont diversity among four habitat zones was more subtle but still significant. Implications of these results are discussed for ongoing restoration and conservation work.

  2. Gene expression of a green fluorescent protein homolog as a host-specific biomarker of heat stress within a reef-building coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Smith-Keune, C; Dove, S

    2008-01-01

    Recent incidences of mass coral bleaching indicate that major reef building corals are increasingly suffering thermal stress associated with climate-related temperature increases. The development of pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometry has enabled rapid detection of the onset of thermal stress within coral algal symbionts, but sensitive biomarkers of thermal stress specific to the host coral have been slower to emerge. Differential display reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (DDRT-PCR) was used to produce fingerprints of gene expression for the reef-building coral Acropora millepora exposed to 33 degrees C. Changes in the expression of 23 out of 399 putative genes occurred within 144 h. Down-regulation of one host-specific gene (AmA1a) occurred within just 6 h. Full-length sequencing revealed the product of this gene to be an all-protein chromatophore (green fluorescent protein [GFP]-homolog). RT-PCR revealed consistent down-regulation of this GFP-homolog for three replicate colonies within 6 h at both 32 degrees C and 33 degrees C but not at lower temperatures. Down-regulation of this host gene preceded significant decreases in the photosynthetic activity of photosystem II (dark-adapted F (v)/F (m)) of algal symbionts as measured by PAM fluorometry. Gene expression of host-specific genes such as GFP-homologs may therefore prove to be highly sensitive indicators for the onset of thermal stress within host coral cells.

  3. In-situ effects of eutrophication and overfishing on physiology and bacterial diversity of the red sea coral Acropora hemprichii.

    KAUST Repository

    Jessen, Christian; Lizcano, Javier; Bayer, Till; Roder, Cornelia; Aranda, Manuel; Wild, Christian; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2013-01-01

    pressures on these reefs, but there is no information available about their potential effects on the associated microbial community. Therefore, we compared holobiont physiology and 16S-based bacterial communities of tissue and mucus of the hard coral

  4. Taxonomy and life history of the Acropora-eating flatworm Amakusaplana acroporae nov. sp. (Polycladida: Prosthiostomidae)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rawlinson, K. A.; Gillis, J. A.; Billings, R. E.; Borneman, E. H.

    2011-09-01

    Efforts to culture and conserve acroporid corals in aquaria have led to the discovery of a corallivorous polyclad flatworm (known as AEFW - Acropora-eating flatworm), which, if not removed, can eat entire colonies. Live observations of the AEFW, whole mounts, serial histological sections and comparison of 28S rDNA sequences with other polyclads reveal that this is a new species belonging to the family Prosthiostomidae Lang, 1884 and previously monospecific genus Amakusaplana (Kato 1938). Amakusaplana acroporae is distinguished from Amakusaplana ohshimai by a different arrangement and number of eyes, a large seminal vesicle and dorsoventrally compressed shell gland pouch. Typical of the genus, A. acroporae, lacks a ventral sucker and has a small notch at the midline of the anterior margin. Nematocysts and a Symbiodinium sp. of dinoflagellate from the coral are abundantly distributed in the gut and parenchyma. Individual adults lay multiple egg batches on the coral skeleton, each egg batch has 20-26 egg capsules, and each capsule contains between 3-7 embryos. Embryonic development takes approximately 21 days, during which time characteristics of a pelagic life stage (lobes and ciliary tufts) develop but are lost before hatching. The hatchling is capable of swimming but settles to the benthos quickly, and no zooxanthellae were observed in the animal at this stage. We suggest that intracapsular metamorphosis limits the dispersal potential of hatchlings and promotes recruitment of offspring into the natal habitat. The evolutionary and ecological significance of retaining lobes and ciliary tufts in the embryo are discussed. Camouflage, high fecundity and possible dispersal dimorphisms probably explain how Amakusaplana acroporae can cause Acropora sp. mortality in aquaria where natural predators may be absent.

  5. Zonation of uplifted pleistocene coral reefs on barbados, west indies.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mesolella, K J

    1967-05-05

    The coral species composition of uplifted Pleistocene reefs on Barbados is very similar to Recent West Indian reefs. Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis, and Montastrea annularis are qtuantitatively the most important of the coral species.

  6. Changes in bleaching susceptibility among corals subject to ocean warming and recurrent bleaching in Moorea, French Polynesia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pratchett, Morgan S; McCowan, Dominique; Maynard, Jeffrey A; Heron, Scott F

    2013-01-01

    Climate-induced coral bleaching poses a major threat to coral reef ecosystems, mostly because of the sensitivities of key habitat-forming corals to increasing temperature. However, susceptibility to bleaching varies greatly among coral genera and there are likely to be major changes in the relative abundance of different corals, even if the wholesale loss of corals does not occur for several decades. Here we document variation in bleaching susceptibility among key genera of reef-building corals in Moorea, French Polynesia, and compare bleaching incidence during mass-bleaching events documented in 1991, 1994, 2002 and 2007. This study compared the proportion of colonies that bleached for four major genera of reef-building corals (Acropora, Montipora, Pocillopora and Porites), during each of four well-documented bleaching events from 1991 to 2007. Acropora and Montipora consistently bleached in far greater proportions (up to 98%) than Pocillopora and Porites. However, there was an apparent and sustained decline in the proportion of colonies that bleached during successive bleaching events, especially for Acropora and Montipora. In 2007, only 77% of Acropora colonies bleached compared with 98% in 1991. Temporal variation in the proportion of coral colonies bleached may be attributable to differences in environmental conditions among years. Alternately, the sustained declines in bleaching incidence among highly susceptible corals may be indicative of acclimation or adaptation. Coral genera that are highly susceptible to coral bleaching, and especially Acropora and Montipora, exhibit temporal declines in their susceptibility to thermal anomalies at Moorea, French Polynesia. One possible explanation for these findings is that gradual removal of highly susceptible genotypes (through selective mortality of individuals, populations, and/or species) is producing a coral assemblage that is more resistant to sustained and ongoing ocean warming.

  7. Changes in Bleaching Susceptibility among Corals Subject to Ocean Warming and Recurrent Bleaching in Moorea, French Polynesia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pratchett, Morgan S.; McCowan, Dominique; Maynard, Jeffrey A.; Heron, Scott F.

    2013-01-01

    Background Climate-induced coral bleaching poses a major threat to coral reef ecosystems, mostly because of the sensitivities of key habitat-forming corals to increasing temperature. However, susceptibility to bleaching varies greatly among coral genera and there are likely to be major changes in the relative abundance of different corals, even if the wholesale loss of corals does not occur for several decades. Here we document variation in bleaching susceptibility among key genera of reef-building corals in Moorea, French Polynesia, and compare bleaching incidence during mass-bleaching events documented in 1991, 1994, 2002 and 2007. Methodology/Principal Findings This study compared the proportion of colonies that bleached for four major genera of reef-building corals (Acropora, Montipora, Pocillopora and Porites), during each of four well-documented bleaching events from 1991 to 2007. Acropora and Montipora consistently bleached in far greater proportions (up to 98%) than Pocillopora and Porites. However, there was an apparent and sustained decline in the proportion of colonies that bleached during successive bleaching events, especially for Acropora and Montipora. In 2007, only 77% of Acropora colonies bleached compared with 98% in 1991. Temporal variation in the proportion of coral colonies bleached may be attributable to differences in environmental conditions among years. Alternately, the sustained declines in bleaching incidence among highly susceptible corals may be indicative of acclimation or adaptation. Conclusions/Significance Coral genera that are highly susceptible to coral bleaching, and especially Acropora and Montipora, exhibit temporal declines in their susceptibility to thermal anomalies at Moorea, French Polynesia. One possible explanation for these findings is that gradual removal of highly susceptible genotypes (through selective mortality of individuals, populations, and/or species) is producing a coral assemblage that is more resistant to

  8. Age and intraspecific diversity of resilient Acropora communities in Belize

    Science.gov (United States)

    Irwin, Adele; Greer, Lisa; Humston, Robert; Devlin-Durante, Meghann; Cabe, Paul; Lescinsky, Halard; Wirth, Karl; Allen Curran, H.; Baums, Iliana B.

    2017-12-01

    The corals Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis are important Caribbean reef-builders that have faced significant mortality in recent decades. While many studies have focused on the recent demise of these species, data from areas where Acropora spp. have continued to thrive are limited. Understanding the genetic diversity, recruitment, and temporal continuity of healthy populations of these threatened Acropora spp. and the hybrid they form (" Acropora prolifera") may provide insights into the demographic processes governing them. We studied three reef sites with abundant A. cervicornis, A. palmata, and hybrid Acropora populations offshore of Ambergris Caye, Belize at Coral Gardens, Manatee Channel, and Rocky Point. Samples were collected from all three Acropora taxa. We used microsatellite markers to determine: (1) genotypic diversity; (2) dominant reproductive mode supporting local recruitment; (3) minimum and maximum genet age estimates for all three acroporids; and (4) the history of hybrid colonization at these sites. We found that Acropora populations were highly clonal with local recruitment primarily occurring through asexual fragmentation. We also estimated the ages of 10 Acropora genets using recent methodology based on somatic mutation rates from genetic data. Results indicate minimum ages of 62-409 yr for A. cervicornis, 187-561 yr for A. palmata, and 156-281 yr for the Acropora hybrids at these sites. Our data indicate that existing A. cervicornis, A. palmata, and Acropora hybrid genets persisted during the 1980s Caribbean-wide Acropora spp. collapse, suggesting that these sites have been a refuge for Caribbean Acropora corals. Additionally, our data suggest that formation of extant hybrid Acropora genets pre-dates the widespread collapse of the parent taxa.

  9. Differential regulation by heat stress of novel cytochrome P450 genes from the dinoflagellate symbionts of reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rosic, Nedeljka N; Pernice, Mathieu; Dunn, Simon; Dove, Sophie; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2010-05-01

    Exposure to heat stress has been recognized as one of the major factors leading to the breakdown of the coral-alga symbiosis and coral bleaching. Here, we describe the presence of three new cytochrome P450 (CYP) genes from the reef-building coral endosymbiont Symbiodinium (type C3) and changes in their expression during exposure to severe and moderate heat stress conditions. Sequence analysis of the CYP C-terminal region and two conserved domains, the "PERF" and "heme-binding" domains, confirmed the separate identities of the CYP genes analyzed. In order to explore the effects of different heat stress scenarios, samples of the scleractinian coral Acropora millepora were exposed to elevated temperatures incrementally over an 18-h period (rapid thermal stress) and over a 120-h period (gradual thermal stress). After 18 h of gradual heating and incubation at 26 degrees C, the Symbiodinium CYP mRNA pool was approximately 30% larger, while a further 6 degrees C increase to a temperature above the average sea temperature (29 degrees C after 72 h) resulted in a 2- to 4-fold increase in CYP expression. Both rapid heat stress and gradual heat stress at 32 degrees C resulted in 50% to 90% decreases in CYP gene transcript abundance. Consequently, the initial upregulation of expression of CYP genes at moderately elevated temperatures (26 degrees C and 29 degrees C) was followed by a decrease in expression under the greater thermal stress conditions at 32 degrees C. These findings indicate that in the coral-alga symbiosis under heat stress conditions there is production of chemical stressors and/or transcriptional factors that regulate the expression of genes, such as the genes encoding cytochrome P450 monooxygenases, that are involved in the first line of an organism's chemical defense.

  10. Differential larval settlement responses of Porites astreoides and Acropora palmata in the presence of the green alga Halimeda opuntia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Olsen, K.; Sneed, J. M.; Paul, V. J.

    2016-06-01

    Settlement is critical to maintaining coral cover on reefs, yet interspecific responses of coral planulae to common benthic macroalgae are not well characterized. Larval survival and settlement of two Caribbean reef-building corals, the broadcast-spawner Acropora palmata and the planulae-brooder Porites astreoides, were quantified following exposure to plastic algae controls and the green macroalga Halimeda opuntia. Survival and settlement rates were not significantly affected by the presence of H. opuntia in either species. However, ~10 % of P. astreoides larvae settled on the surface of the macroalga, whereas larvae of A. palmata did not. It is unlikely that corals that settle on macroalgae will survive post-settlement; therefore, H. opuntia may reduce the number of P. astreoides and other non-discriminatory larvae that survive to adulthood. Our results suggest that the presence of macroalgae on impacted reefs can have unexpected repercussions for coral recruitment and highlight discrepancies in settlement specificity between corals with distinct life history strategies.

  11. CRCP-Acropora palmata snail corallivore removal evaluation

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Corallivorous snail feeding scars are a common source of tissue loss for the threatened coral Acropora palmata, accounting for roughly one quarter of tissue loss in...

  12. The relative abundance of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) among other zwitterions in branching coral at Heron Island, southern Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Swan, Hilton B; Deschaseaux, Elisabeth S M; Jones, Graham B; Eyre, Bradley D

    2017-07-01

    Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and eleven other target zwitterions were quantified in the branch tips of six Acropora species and Stylophora pistillata hard coral growing on the reef flat surrounding Heron Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. Hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (HILIC-MS) was used for sample analysis with isotope dilution MS applied to quantify DMSP. The concentration of DMSP was ten times greater in A. aspera than A. valida, with this difference being maintained throughout the spring, summer and winter seasons. In contrast, glycine betaine was present in significantly higher concentrations in these species during the summer than the winter. Exposure of branch tips of A. aspera to air and hypo-saline seawater for up to 1 h did not alter the concentrations of DMSP present in the coral when compared with control samples. DMSP was the most abundant target zwitterion in the six Acropora species examined, ranging from 44-78% of all target zwitterions in A. millepora and A. aspera, respectively. In contrast, DMSP only accounted for 7% in S. pistillata, with glycine betaine and stachydrine collectively accounting for 88% of all target zwitterions in this species. The abundance of DMSP in the six Acropora species examined points to Acropora coral being an important source for the biogeochemical cycling of sulfur throughout the GBR, since this reef-building branching coral dominates the coral cover of the GBR. Graphical Abstract HILIC-MS extracted ion chromatogram showing zwitterionic metabolites from the branching coral Acropora isopora.

  13. Intergenerational epigenetic inheritance in reef-building corals

    KAUST Repository

    Liew, Yi Jin

    2018-02-22

    The notion that intergenerational or transgenerational inheritance operates solely through genetic means is slowly being eroded: epigenetic mechanisms have been shown to induce heritable changes in gene activity in plants and metazoans. Inheritance of DNA methylation provides a potential pathway for environmentally induced phenotypes to contribute to evolution of species and populations. However, in basal metazoans, it is unknown whether inheritance of CpG methylation patterns occurs across the genome (as in plants) or as rare exceptions (as in mammals). Here, we demonstrate genome-wide intergenerational transmission of CpG methylation patterns from parents to sperm and larvae in a reef-building coral. We also show variation in hypermethylated genes in corals from distinct environments, indicative of responses to variations in temperature and salinity. These findings support a role of DNA methylation in the transgenerational inheritance of traits in corals, which may extend to enhancing their capacity to adapt to climate change.

  14. Intergenerational epigenetic inheritance in reef-building corals

    KAUST Repository

    Liew, Yi Jin; Howells, Emily J.; Wang, Xin; Michell, Craig; Burt, John A.; Idaghdour, Youssef; Aranda, Manuel

    2018-01-01

    The notion that intergenerational or transgenerational inheritance operates solely through genetic means is slowly being eroded: epigenetic mechanisms have been shown to induce heritable changes in gene activity in plants and metazoans. Inheritance of DNA methylation provides a potential pathway for environmentally induced phenotypes to contribute to evolution of species and populations. However, in basal metazoans, it is unknown whether inheritance of CpG methylation patterns occurs across the genome (as in plants) or as rare exceptions (as in mammals). Here, we demonstrate genome-wide intergenerational transmission of CpG methylation patterns from parents to sperm and larvae in a reef-building coral. We also show variation in hypermethylated genes in corals from distinct environments, indicative of responses to variations in temperature and salinity. These findings support a role of DNA methylation in the transgenerational inheritance of traits in corals, which may extend to enhancing their capacity to adapt to climate change.

  15. Comment on "Younger Dryas sea level and meltwater pulse 1B recorded in Barbados reefal crest coral Acropora palmata" by N. A. Abdul et al.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bard, Edouard; Hamelin, Bruno; Deschamps, Pierre; Camoin, Gilbert

    2016-12-01

    Based on new U-Th ages of corals drilled offshore Barbados, Abdul et al. (2016) have confirmed the existence of the abrupt stratigraphic feature called meltwater pulse 1B (MWP-1B), which they interpret as being due to a very large and global sea level step change dated at about 11.3 kyr before present (approximately 15 m and equivalent to twice the amount of water stored in the present Greenland ice sheet). This contrasts with the Tahiti record, in which MWP-1B is essentially absent or very small, as Carlson and Clark (2012) and Lambeck et al. (2014) also conclude in their recent reviews of deglacial sea levels at the global scale. However, the evidence provided by Abdul et al. and their main conclusions are not convincing as they are affected by the following three main problems, which may explain the apparent discrepancies: Problem #1/Barbados is located in a subduction zone, which was also active throughout the Late Glacial period. Furthermore, the Barbados cores studied by Abdul et al. were drilled on both sides of the extension of a tectonic feature identified at the southern tip of Barbados (South Point) as underlined by several studies of the Barbados stratigraphy. Problem #2/Fossil samples of Acropora palmata may not be reliable sea level markers during rapid and large sea level rises. Indeed, the asexual reproduction strategy of this species may not be optimal to keep up when the water depth is increasing very rapidly. This may in part explain why the living depth of A. palmata at Barbados was significantly greater than 5 m during some periods of the last deglaciation, notably between 14.5 and 14 kyr B.P. and possibly between 14 and 11.5 kyr B.P. Problem #3/The slow glacio-isostatic adjustment and the rapid responses due to gravitational changes of ice and water masses complicate the interpretation of individual relative sea level (RSL) records at specific locations. Therefore, the Barbados and Tahiti record cannot be compared directly in terms of absolute

  16. Experimental Bleaching of a Reef-Building Coral Using a Simplified Recirculating Laboratory Exposure System

    Science.gov (United States)

    Determining stressor-response relationships in reef building corals is a critical need for researchers because of global declines in coral reef ecosystems. A simplified recirculating coral exposure system for laboratory testing of a diversity of species and morphologies of reef b...

  17. Settlement induction of Acropora palmata planulae by a GLW-amide neuropeptide

    Science.gov (United States)

    Erwin, P. M.; Szmant, A. M.

    2010-12-01

    Complex environmental cues dictate the settlement of coral planulae in situ; however, simple artificial cues may be all that is required to induce settlement of ex situ larval cultures for reef re-seeding and restoration projects. Neuropeptides that transmit settlement signals and initiate the metamorphic cascade have been isolated from hydrozoan taxa and shown to induce metamorphosis of reef-building Acropora spp. in the Indo-Pacific, providing a reliable and efficient settlement cue. Here, the metamorphic activity of six GLW-amide cnidarian neuropeptides was tested on larvae of the Caribbean corals Acropora palmata, Montastraea faveolata and Favia fragum. A. palmata planulae were induced to settle by the exogenous application of the neuropeptide Hym-248 (concentrations ≥1 × 10-6 M), achieving 40-80% attachment and 100% metamorphosis of competent planulae (≥6 days post-fertilization) during two spawning seasons; the remaining neuropeptides exhibited no activity. Hym-248 exposure rapidly altered larval swimming behavior (96% metamorphosis after 6 h. In contrast , M. faveolata and F. fragum planulae did not respond to any GLW-amides tested, suggesting a high specificity of neuropeptide activators on lower taxonomic scales in corals. Subsequent experiments for A. palmata revealed that (1) the presence of a biofilm did not enhance attachment efficiency when coupled with Hym-248 treatment, (2) neuropeptide-induced settlement had no negative effects on early life-history developmental processes: zooxanthellae acquisition and skeletal secretion occurred within 12 days, colonial growth occurred within 36 days, and (3) Hym-248 solutions maintained metamorphic activity following storage at room temperature (10 days), indicating its utility in remote field settings. These results corroborate previous studies on Indo-Pacific Acropora spp. and extend the known metamorphic activity of Hym-248 to Caribbean acroporids. Hym-248 allows for directed and reliable settlement of

  18. Re-introduction and supplementation of species of Acropora and Pocillopora into the lagoons of Lakshadweep Islands, India

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Venkatesh, M.; Koya, S.I.; Wafar, M.V.M.

    The genera Acropora and Pocillopora are represented by a large number of species in most coral reefs They are more sensitive to environmental changes and anthropogenic effects and hence are more at risk than other coral species For example...

  19. Mechanisms of Thermal Tolerance in Reef-Building Corals across a Fine-Grained Environmental Mosaic: Lessons from Ofu, American Samoa

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Luke Thomas

    2018-02-01

    Full Text Available Environmental heterogeneity gives rise to phenotypic variation through a combination of phenotypic plasticity and fixed genetic effects. For reef-building corals, understanding the relative roles of acclimatization and adaptation in generating thermal tolerance is fundamental to predicting the response of coral populations to future climate change. The temperature mosaic in the lagoon of Ofu, American Samoa, represents an ideal natural laboratory for studying thermal tolerance in corals. Two adjacent back-reef pools approximately 500 m apart have different temperature profiles: the highly variable (HV pool experiences temperatures that range from 24.5 to 35°C, whereas the moderately variable (MV pool ranges from 25 to 32°C. Standardized heat stress tests have shown that corals native to the HV pool have consistently higher levels of bleaching resistance than those in the MV pool. In this review, we summarize research into the mechanisms underlying this variation in bleaching resistance, focusing on the important reef-building genus Acropora. Both acclimatization and adaptation occur strongly and define thermal tolerance differences between pools. Most individual corals shift physiology to become more heat resistant when moved into the warmer pool. Lab based tests show that these shifts begin in as little as a week and are equally sparked by exposure to periodic high temperatures as constant high temperatures. Transcriptome-wide data on gene expression show that a wide variety of genes are co-regulated in expression modules that change expression after experimental heat stress, after acclimatization, and even after short term environmental fluctuations. Population genetic scans show associations between a corals' thermal environment and its alleles at 100s to 1000s of nuclear genes and no single gene confers strong environmental effects within or between species. Symbionts also tend to differ between pools and species, and the thermal tolerance

  20. Topography and spatial arrangement of reef-building corals on the fringing reefs of North Jamaica may influence their response to disturbance from bleaching.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Crabbe, M J C

    2010-04-01

    Knowledge of factors that are important in reef resilience helps us understand how reefs react following major environmental disturbances such as hurricanes and bleaching. Here we test factors that might have influenced Jamaican reef resilience to, and subsequent recovery from, the 2005 bleaching event, and which might help inform management policy for reefs in the future: reef rugosity and contact of corals with macroalgae. In addition, we test in the field, on Dairy Bull reef, whether aggregated Porites astreoides colonies exhibit enhanced growth when exposed to superior competition from Acopora palmata, as has been found by experiment with the Indo-Pacific corals Porites lobata and the superior competitor Porites rus [Idjadi, J.A., Karlson, R.H., 2007. Spatial arrangement of competitors influences coexistence of reef-building corals. Ecology 88, 2449-2454]. There were significant linear relationships between rugosity and the increase in smallest size classes for Sidastrea siderea, Colpophyllia natans, P. astreoides and Agaricia species, and between rugosity and cover of the branching coral Acropora cervicornis. Linear extension rates of A. cervicornis and radial growth rates of P. astreoides were significantly lower (p6) when in contact with macroalgae. Aggregated colonies of P. astreoides in contact with one another, one of which was in contact with the faster growing competitor A. palmata showed significantly greater growth rates than with just two aggregated P. astreoides colonies alone. These findings suggest that three dimensional topography and complexity is important for reef resilience and viability in the face of environmental stressors such as bleaching. Our findings also support the idea that aggregated spatial arrangements of corals can influence the outcome of interspecific competition and promote species coexistence, important in times of reef recovery after disturbance. Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  1. Complex interactions between potentially pathogenic, opportunistic, and resident bacteria emerge during infection on a reef-building coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gignoux-Wolfsohn, Sarah A; Aronson, Felicia M; Vollmer, Steven V

    2017-07-01

    Increased bacterial diversity on diseased corals can obscure disease etiology and complicate our understanding of pathogenesis. To untangle microbes that may cause white band disease signs from microbes responding to disease, we inoculated healthy Acropora cervicornis corals with an infectious dose from visibly diseased corals. We sampled these dosed corals and healthy controls over time for sequencing of the bacterial 16S region. Endozoicomonas were associated with healthy fragments from 4/10 colonies, dominating microbiomes before dosing and decreasing over time only in corals that displayed disease signs, suggesting a role in disease resistance. We grouped disease-associated bacteria by when they increased in abundance (primary vs secondary) and whether they originated in the dose (colonizers) or the previously healthy corals (responders). We found that all primary responders increased in all dosed corals regardless of final disease state and are therefore unlikely to cause disease signs. In contrast, primary colonizers in the families Pasteurellaceae and Francisellaceae increased solely in dosed corals that ultimately displayed disease signs, and may be infectious foreign bacteria involved in the development of disease signs. Moving away from a static comparison of diseased and healthy bacterial communities, we provide a framework to identify key players in other coral diseases. © FEMS 2017. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

  2. Elkhorn and Staghorn Corals Critical Habitat

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — These data represent the critical habitat for elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) and staghorn coral (A. cervicornis) as designated by 73 FR 72210, November 26, 2008,...

  3. A connection between colony biomass and death in Caribbean reef-building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Daniel J Thornhill

    Full Text Available Increased sea-surface temperatures linked to warming climate threaten coral reef ecosystems globally. To better understand how corals and their endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp. respond to environmental change, tissue biomass and Symbiodinium density of seven coral species were measured on various reefs approximately every four months for up to thirteen years in the Upper Florida Keys, United States (1994-2007, eleven years in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas (1995-2006, and four years in Puerto Morelos, Mexico (2003-2007. For six out of seven coral species, tissue biomass correlated with Symbiodinium density. Within a particular coral species, tissue biomasses and Symbiodinium densities varied regionally according to the following trends: Mexico≥Florida Keys≥Bahamas. Average tissue biomasses and symbiont cell densities were generally higher in shallow habitats (1-4 m compared to deeper-dwelling conspecifics (12-15 m. Most colonies that were sampled displayed seasonal fluctuations in biomass and endosymbiont density related to annual temperature variations. During the bleaching episodes of 1998 and 2005, five out of seven species that were exposed to unusually high temperatures exhibited significant decreases in symbiotic algae that, in certain cases, preceded further decreases in tissue biomass. Following bleaching, Montastraea spp. colonies with low relative biomass levels died, whereas colonies with higher biomass levels survived. Bleaching- or disease-associated mortality was also observed in Acropora cervicornis colonies; compared to A. palmata, all A. cervicornis colonies experienced low biomass values. Such patterns suggest that Montastraea spp. and possibly other coral species with relatively low biomass experience increased susceptibility to death following bleaching or other stressors than do conspecifics with higher tissue biomass levels.

  4. A connection between colony biomass and death in Caribbean reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Thornhill, Daniel J; Rotjan, Randi D; Todd, Brian D; Chilcoat, Geoff C; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto; Kemp, Dustin W; LaJeunesse, Todd C; Reynolds, Jennifer McCabe; Schmidt, Gregory W; Shannon, Thomas; Warner, Mark E; Fitt, William K

    2011-01-01

    Increased sea-surface temperatures linked to warming climate threaten coral reef ecosystems globally. To better understand how corals and their endosymbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.) respond to environmental change, tissue biomass and Symbiodinium density of seven coral species were measured on various reefs approximately every four months for up to thirteen years in the Upper Florida Keys, United States (1994-2007), eleven years in the Exuma Cays, Bahamas (1995-2006), and four years in Puerto Morelos, Mexico (2003-2007). For six out of seven coral species, tissue biomass correlated with Symbiodinium density. Within a particular coral species, tissue biomasses and Symbiodinium densities varied regionally according to the following trends: Mexico≥Florida Keys≥Bahamas. Average tissue biomasses and symbiont cell densities were generally higher in shallow habitats (1-4 m) compared to deeper-dwelling conspecifics (12-15 m). Most colonies that were sampled displayed seasonal fluctuations in biomass and endosymbiont density related to annual temperature variations. During the bleaching episodes of 1998 and 2005, five out of seven species that were exposed to unusually high temperatures exhibited significant decreases in symbiotic algae that, in certain cases, preceded further decreases in tissue biomass. Following bleaching, Montastraea spp. colonies with low relative biomass levels died, whereas colonies with higher biomass levels survived. Bleaching- or disease-associated mortality was also observed in Acropora cervicornis colonies; compared to A. palmata, all A. cervicornis colonies experienced low biomass values. Such patterns suggest that Montastraea spp. and possibly other coral species with relatively low biomass experience increased susceptibility to death following bleaching or other stressors than do conspecifics with higher tissue biomass levels. © 2011 Thornhill et al.

  5. CRCP-Acropora spp. distribution in the upper Florida Keys 2013-2015

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — This data set is derived from visual surveys by snorkelers using handheld GPS units to map extant live colonies of the threatened corals Acropora palmata and A....

  6. CRCP-Acropora spp. distribution in the upper Florida Keys 2013-2015 (NCEI Accession 0157538)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — This data set contains data from visual surveys by snorkelers using handheld GPS units to map extant live colonies of the threatened corals Acropora palmata and A....

  7. Acropora Presence/Absence in Surveyed Waters of Florida 1996-2008

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — On May 9, 2006, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries Service) listed staghorn and elkhorn corals (Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata) as...

  8. Changes in growth, vitality, and habitat value of Acropora cervicornis in the US Caribbean

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — The project was planned to document the habitat value of Acropora cervicornis, staghorn coral, colonies or stands/thickets as they changed in configuration through...

  9. Lithifying Microbes Associated to Coral Rubbles

    Science.gov (United States)

    Beltran, Y.

    2015-12-01

    Microbial communities taking part in calcium carbonate lithification processes are particularly relevant to coral reef formation in as much as this lithification allows the stabilization of secondary reef structure. This second framework promotes long-term permanence of the reef, favoring the establishment of macro-reef builders, including corals. The reef-bacterial crusts formed by microbial communities are composed of magnesium calcite. Although prokaryotes are not proper calcifiers, carbonate precipitation can be induced by their metabolic activity and EPS production. Coral reefs are rapidly declining due to several variables associated to environmental change. Specifically in the Caribbean, stony coral Acropora palmata have suffered damage due to diseases, bleaching and storms. Some reports show that in highly disturbed areas wide ridges of reef rubbles are formed by biological and physical lithification. In this study we explore microbial diversity associated to lithified rubbles left after the great decline of reef-building A. palmata.

  10. Potential Habitat of Acropora spp. on Reefs of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands

    OpenAIRE

    Katherine E. Wirt; Pamela Hallock; David Palandro; Kathleen Semon Lunz

    2015-01-01

    Elkhorn and staghorn corals (Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis) were listed in 2006 as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The goal of this study was to create model potential-habitat maps for A. palmata and A. cervicornis, while identifying areas for possible re-establishment. These maps were created using a database of reported field observations in combination with existing benthic habitat maps. The mapped coral reef and hardbottom classifications throughout Florida, Puerto R...

  11. Potential Costs of Acclimatization to a Warmer Climate: Growth of a Reef Coral with Heat Tolerant vs. Sensitive Symbiont Types

    OpenAIRE

    Jones, Alison; Berkelmans, Ray

    2010-01-01

    One of the principle ways in which reef building corals are likely to cope with a warmer climate is by changing to more thermally tolerant endosymbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) genotypes. It is highly likely that hosting a more heat-tolerant algal genotype will be accompanied by tradeoffs in the physiology of the coral. To better understand one of these tradeoffs, growth was investigated in the Indo-Pacific reef-building coral Acropora millepora in both the laboratory and the field. In the Kepp...

  12. Symbiodinium transcriptomes: genome insights into the dinoflagellate symbionts of reef-building corals.

    KAUST Repository

    Bayer, Till; Aranda, Manuel; Sunagawa, Shinichi; Yum, Lauren K; Desalvo, Michael K; Lindquist, Erika; Coffroth, Mary Alice; Voolstra, Christian R.; Medina, Mó nica

    2012-01-01

    Dinoflagellates are unicellular algae that are ubiquitously abundant in aquatic environments. Species of the genus Symbiodinium form symbiotic relationships with reef-building corals and other marine invertebrates. Despite their ecologic importance

  13. Microbial to reef scale interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and benthic algae.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Barott, Katie L; Rodriguez-Mueller, Beltran; Youle, Merry; Marhaver, Kristen L; Vermeij, Mark J A; Smith, Jennifer E; Rohwer, Forest L

    2012-04-22

    Competition between reef-building corals and benthic algae is of key importance for reef dynamics. These interactions occur on many spatial scales, ranging from chemical to regional. Using microprobes, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing and underwater surveys, we examined the interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and four types of benthic algae. The macroalgae Dictyota bartayresiana and Halimeda opuntia, as well as a mixed consortium of turf algae, caused hypoxia on the adjacent coral tissue. Turf algae were also associated with major shifts in the bacterial communities at the interaction zones, including more pathogens and virulence genes. In contrast to turf algae, interactions with crustose coralline algae (CCA) and M. annularis did not appear to be antagonistic at any scale. These zones were not hypoxic, the microbes were not pathogen-like and the abundance of coral-CCA interactions was positively correlated with per cent coral cover. We propose a model in which fleshy algae (i.e. some species of turf and fleshy macroalgae) alter benthic competition dynamics by stimulating bacterial respiration and promoting invasion of virulent bacteria on corals. This gives fleshy algae a competitive advantage over corals when human activities, such as overfishing and eutrophication, remove controls on algal abundance. Together, these results demonstrate the intricate connections and mechanisms that structure coral reefs.

  14. Corals like it waxed: paraffin-based antifouling technology enhances coral spat survival.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jan Tebben

    Full Text Available The early post-settlement stage is the most sensitive during the life history of reef building corals. However, few studies have examined the factors that influence coral mortality during this period. Here, the impact of fouling on the survival of newly settled coral spat of Acropora millepora was investigated by manipulating the extent of fouling cover on settlement tiles using non-toxic, wax antifouling coatings. Survival of spat on coated tiles was double that on control tiles. Moreover, there was a significant negative correlation between percentage cover of fouling and spat survival across all tiles types, suggesting that fouling in direct proximity to settled corals has detrimental effects on early post-settlement survival. While previous studies have shown that increased fouling negatively affects coral larval settlement and health of juvenile and adult corals, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to show a direct relationship between fouling and early post-settlement survival for a broadcast spawning scleractinian coral. The negative effects of fouling on this sensitive life history stage may become more pronounced in the future as coastal eutrophication increases. Our results further suggest that targeted seeding of coral spat on artificial surfaces in combination with fouling control could prove useful to improve the efficiency of sexual reproduction-based coral propagation for reef rehabilitation.

  15. Metatranscriptome analysis of the reef-building coral Orbicella faveolata indicates holobiont response to coral disease

    KAUST Repository

    Daniels, Camille Arian

    2015-09-11

    White Plague Disease (WPD) is implicated in coral reef decline in the Caribbean and is characterized by microbial community shifts in coral mucus and tissue. Studies thus far have focused on assessing microbial communities or the identification of specific pathogens, yet few have addressed holobiont response across metaorganism compartments in coral disease. Here, we report on the first metatranscriptomic assessment of the coral host, algal symbiont, and microbial compartment in order to survey holobiont structure and function in healthy and diseased samples from Orbicella faveolata collected at reef sites off Puerto Rico. Our data indicate holobiont-wide as well as compartment-specific responses to WPD. Gene expression changes in the diseased coral host involved proteins playing a role in innate immunity, cytoskeletal integrity, cell adhesion, oxidative stress, chemical defense, and retroelements. In contrast, the algal symbiont showed comparatively few expression changes, but of large magnitude, of genes related to stress, photosynthesis, and metal transport. Concordant with the coral host response, the bacterial compartment showed increased abundance of heat shock proteins, genes related to oxidative stress, DNA repair, and potential retroelement activity. Importantly, analysis of the expressed bacterial gene functions establishes the participation of multiple bacterial families in WPD pathogenesis and also suggests a possible involvement of viruses and/or phages in structuring the bacterial assemblage. In this study, we implement an experimental approach to partition the coral holobiont and resolve compartment- and taxa-specific responses in order to understand metaorganism function in coral disease.

  16. Metatranscriptome analysis of the reef-building coral Orbicella faveolata indicates holobiont response to coral disease

    KAUST Repository

    Daniels, Camille Arian; Baumgarten, Sebastian; Yum, Lauren; Michell, Craig; Bayer, Till; Arif, Chatchanit; Roder, Cornelia; Weil, Ernesto; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2015-01-01

    White Plague Disease (WPD) is implicated in coral reef decline in the Caribbean and is characterized by microbial community shifts in coral mucus and tissue. Studies thus far have focused on assessing microbial communities or the identification of specific pathogens, yet few have addressed holobiont response across metaorganism compartments in coral disease. Here, we report on the first metatranscriptomic assessment of the coral host, algal symbiont, and microbial compartment in order to survey holobiont structure and function in healthy and diseased samples from Orbicella faveolata collected at reef sites off Puerto Rico. Our data indicate holobiont-wide as well as compartment-specific responses to WPD. Gene expression changes in the diseased coral host involved proteins playing a role in innate immunity, cytoskeletal integrity, cell adhesion, oxidative stress, chemical defense, and retroelements. In contrast, the algal symbiont showed comparatively few expression changes, but of large magnitude, of genes related to stress, photosynthesis, and metal transport. Concordant with the coral host response, the bacterial compartment showed increased abundance of heat shock proteins, genes related to oxidative stress, DNA repair, and potential retroelement activity. Importantly, analysis of the expressed bacterial gene functions establishes the participation of multiple bacterial families in WPD pathogenesis and also suggests a possible involvement of viruses and/or phages in structuring the bacterial assemblage. In this study, we implement an experimental approach to partition the coral holobiont and resolve compartment- and taxa-specific responses in order to understand metaorganism function in coral disease.

  17. Coral mucus functions as an energy carrier and particle trap in the reef ecosystem

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Wild, C.; Huettel, M.; Klueter, A.

    2004-01-01

    Zooxanthellae, endosymbiotic algae of reef-building corals, substantially contribute to the high gross primary production of coral reefs(1), but corals exude up to half of the carbon assimilated by their zooxanthellae as mucus(2,3). Here we show that released coral mucus efficiently traps organic...... matter from the water column and rapidly carries energy and nutrients to the reef lagoon sediment, which acts as a biocatalytic mineralizing filter. In the Great Barrier Reef, the dominant genus of hard corals, Acropora, exudes up to 4.8 litres of mucus per square metre of reef area per day. Between 56......% and 80% of this mucus dissolves in the reef water, which is filtered through the lagoon sands. Here, coral mucus is degraded at a turnover rate of at least 7% per hour. Detached undissolved mucus traps suspended particles, increasing its initial organic carbon and nitrogen content by three orders...

  18. Exploring the Symbiodinium rare biosphere provides evidence for symbiont switching in reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Boulotte, Nadine M; Dalton, Steven J; Carroll, Andrew G; Harrison, Peter L; Putnam, Hollie M; Peplow, Lesa M; van Oppen, Madeleine Jh

    2016-11-01

    Reef-building corals possess a range of acclimatisation and adaptation mechanisms to respond to seawater temperature increases. In some corals, thermal tolerance increases through community composition changes of their dinoflagellate endosymbionts (Symbiodinium spp.), but this mechanism is believed to be limited to the Symbiodinium types already present in the coral tissue acquired during early life stages. Compelling evidence for symbiont switching, that is, the acquisition of novel Symbiodinium types from the environment, by adult coral colonies, is currently lacking. Using deep sequencing analysis of Symbiodinium rDNA internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) PCR amplicons from two pocilloporid coral species, we show evidence consistent with de novo acquisition of Symbiodinium types from the environment by adult corals following two consecutive bleaching events. Most of these newly detected symbionts remained in the rare biosphere (background types occurring below 1% relative abundance), but one novel type reached a relative abundance of ~33%. Two de novo acquired Symbiodinium types belong to the thermally resistant clade D, suggesting that this switching may have been driven by consecutive thermal bleaching events. Our results are particularly important given the maternal mode of Symbiodinium transmission in the study species, which generally results in high symbiont specificity. These findings will cause a paradigm shift in our understanding of coral-Symbiodinium symbiosis flexibility and mechanisms of environmental acclimatisation in corals.

  19. Regional restoration benchmarks for Acropora cervicornis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schopmeyer, Stephanie A.; Lirman, Diego; Bartels, Erich; Gilliam, David S.; Goergen, Elizabeth A.; Griffin, Sean P.; Johnson, Meaghan E.; Lustic, Caitlin; Maxwell, Kerry; Walter, Cory S.

    2017-12-01

    Coral gardening plays an important role in the recovery of depleted populations of threatened Acropora cervicornis in the Caribbean. Over the past decade, high survival coupled with fast growth of in situ nursery corals have allowed practitioners to create healthy and genotypically diverse nursery stocks. Currently, thousands of corals are propagated and outplanted onto degraded reefs on a yearly basis, representing a substantial increase in the abundance, biomass, and overall footprint of A. cervicornis. Here, we combined an extensive dataset collected by restoration practitioners to document early (1-2 yr) restoration success metrics in Florida and Puerto Rico, USA. By reporting region-specific data on the impacts of fragment collection on donor colonies, survivorship and productivity of nursery corals, and survivorship and productivity of outplanted corals during normal conditions, we provide the basis for a stop-light indicator framework for new or existing restoration programs to evaluate their performance. We show that current restoration methods are very effective, that no excess damage is caused to donor colonies, and that once outplanted, corals behave just as wild colonies. We also provide science-based benchmarks that can be used by programs to evaluate successes and challenges of their efforts, and to make modifications where needed. We propose that up to 10% of the biomass can be collected from healthy, large A. cervicornis donor colonies for nursery propagation. We also propose the following benchmarks for the first year of activities for A. cervicornis restoration: (1) >75% live tissue cover on donor colonies; (2) >80% survivorship of nursery corals; and (3) >70% survivorship of outplanted corals. Finally, we report productivity means of 4.4 cm yr-1 for nursery corals and 4.8 cm yr-1 for outplants as a frame of reference for ranking performance within programs. Such benchmarks, and potential subsequent adaptive actions, are needed to fully assess the

  20. Reply to comment by E. Bard et al. on "Younger Dryas sea level and meltwater pulse 1B recorded in Barbados reef crest coral Acropora palmata" by N. A. Abdul et al.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mortlock, Richard A.; Abdul, Nicole A.; Wright, James D.; Fairbanks, Richard G.

    2016-12-01

    Abdul et al. (2016) presented a detailed record of sea level at Barbados (13.9-9 kyr B.P.) tightly constraining the timing and amplitude during the Younger Dryas and Meltwater Pulse 1B (MWP-1B) based on U-Th dated reef crest coral species Acropora palmata. The Younger Dryas slow stand and the large (14 m) rapid sea level jump are not resolved in the Tahiti record. Tahiti sea level estimates are remarkably close to the Barbados sea level curve between 13.9 and 11.6 kyr but fall below the Barbados sea level curve for a few thousand years following MWP-1B. By 9 kyr the Tahiti sea level estimates again converge with the Barbados sea level curve. Abdul et al. (2016) concluded that Tahiti reefs at the core sites did not keep up with intervals of rapidly rising sea level during MWP-1B. We counter Bard et al. (2016) by showing (1) that there is no evidence for a hypothetical fault in Oistins Bay affecting one of the Barbados coring locations, (2) that the authors confuse the rare occurrences of A. palmata at depths >5 m with the "thickets" of A. palmata fronds representing the reef-crest facies, and (3) that uncertainties in depth habitat proxies largely account for differences in Barbados and Tahiti sea level differences curves with A. palmata providing the most faithful proxy. Given the range in Tahiti paleodepth uncertainties at the cored sites, the most parsimonious explanation remains that Tahiti coralgal ridges did not keep up with the sea level rise of MWP-1B.

  1. Acropora Presence/Absence in Surveyed Waters of Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands 2001-2006

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — On May 9, 2006, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries Service) listed staghorn and elkhorn corals (Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata) as...

  2. CRCP-Acropora palmata fragment outplants: evaluating the performance in the Upper Florida Keys from 2014 to 2016

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — Much progress has been made in the last decade in the propagation of Acropora spp. corals for restoration. Since 2008, much effort in Florida and US Caribbean...

  3. Population Monitoring of Acropora palmata and its predator, Coralliophila abbreviata, in the upper Florida Keys 1998 to 2004

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — This record refers to ongoing population surveys of corallivorous snail, C. abbreviata, and two of its coral hosts, Acropora palmata, and Montastraea spp at six reef...

  4. Identification and prevalence of coral diseases on three Western Indian Ocean coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Séré, Mathieu G; Chabanet, Pascale; Turquet, Jean; Quod, Jean-Pascal; Schleyer, Michael H

    2015-06-03

    Coral diseases have caused a substantial decline in the biodiversity and abundance of reef-building corals. To date, more than 30 distinct diseases of scleractinian corals have been reported, which cause progressive tissue loss and/or affect coral growth, reproductive capacity, recruitment, species diversity and the abundance of reef-associated organisms. While coral disease research has increased over the last 4 decades, very little is known about coral diseases in the Western Indian Ocean. Surveys conducted at multiple sites in Reunion, South Africa and Mayotte between August 2010 and June 2012 revealed the presence of 6 main coral diseases: black band disease (BBD), white syndrome (WS), pink line syndrome (PLS), growth anomalies (GA), skeleton eroding band (SEB) and Porites white patch syndrome (PWPS). Overall, disease prevalence was higher in Reunion (7.5 ± 2.2%; mean ± SE) compared to South Africa (3.9 ± 0.8%) and Mayotte (2.7 ± 0.3%). Across locations, Acropora and Porites were the genera most susceptible to disease. Spatial variability was detected in both Reunion and South Africa, with BBD and WS more prevalent on shallow than deep reefs. There was also evidence of seasonality in 2 diseases: the prevalence of BBD and WS was higher in summer than winter. This was the first study to investigate the ecology of coral diseases, providing both qualitative and quantitative data, on Western Indian Ocean reefs, and surveys should be expanded to confirm these patterns.

  5. Mapping Prevalence and Incidence of Coral Disease in reef-building corals at two Natural Reserves of the Southwest Puerto Rico

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sanchez Viruet, I.; Irizarry-Soto, E.; Ruiz-Valentín, I.

    2016-02-01

    Coral diseases seems to be the main cause of coral reef decline in the Caribbean. Before the bleaching event of 2005, coral reefs in Puerto Rico were dominated by the reef-building taxa: Orbicella annularis, Porites astreoides, Montastrea cavernosa, Agaricia agaracites and Colpophyllia natans. After the event, live-coral cover significantly declined and more than 90% of the scleractinian corals in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico showed signals of thermal stressors. The prevalence of coral diseases in five reef-building coral (Orbicella annularis, Orbicella franksi, Orbicella faveolata, Porites porites and Pseudiploria strigosa) species was assessed by tagging, photographing, and mapping all diseased and healthy colonies within 10 permanent 40m2 band transects at each inshore and mid-shelf reefs of Belvedere and Punta Guaniquilla Natural Reserves using a random stratified sampling method. Maximum and perpendicular diameter was used to assess coral size using Coral Point Count with Excel Extension. Corals were classified into three size class populations (class I: 0-50cm, class II: 50-100cm and class III: >100 cm). Data was used to develop a GIS-based map containing coral species, size and disease presence. Preliminary results of the inshore area showed a higher disease prevalence in Belvedere natural reserve and for P. strigosa (17.1%) and O. annularis (9.3%). Frequency distribution analysis showed a dominance of O. faveolata at Punta Guaniquilla and Belvedere (127 and 88 individuals respectively). Size class I dominates the distribution of each species within the natural reserves with a higher disease prevalence. Future work include continue prevalence surveys of the outer reef shelf on both natural reserves, monitoring and GIS-based mapping of incidence and resilience through time. This study will help in the assessment of the status of the coral reef of the southwest insular platform.

  6. Diversity and evolution of coral fluorescent proteins.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Naila O Alieva

    2008-07-01

    Full Text Available GFP-like fluorescent proteins (FPs are the key color determinants in reef-building corals (class Anthozoa, order Scleractinia and are of considerable interest as potential genetically encoded fluorescent labels. Here we report 40 additional members of the GFP family from corals. There are three major paralogous lineages of coral FPs. One of them is retained in all sampled coral families and is responsible for the non-fluorescent purple-blue color, while each of the other two evolved a full complement of typical coral fluorescent colors (cyan, green, and red and underwent sorting between coral groups. Among the newly cloned proteins are a "chromo-red" color type from Echinopora forskaliana (family Faviidae and pink chromoprotein from Stylophora pistillata (Pocilloporidae, both evolving independently from the rest of coral chromoproteins. There are several cyan FPs that possess a novel kind of excitation spectrum indicating a neutral chromophore ground state, for which the residue E167 is responsible (numeration according to GFP from A. victoria. The chromoprotein from Acropora millepora is an unusual blue instead of purple, which is due to two mutations: S64C and S183T. We applied a novel probabilistic sampling approach to recreate the common ancestor of all coral FPs as well as the more derived common ancestor of three main fluorescent colors of the Faviina suborder. Both proteins were green such as found elsewhere outside class Anthozoa. Interestingly, a substantial fraction of the all-coral ancestral protein had a chromohore apparently locked in a non-fluorescent neutral state, which may reflect the transitional stage that enabled rapid color diversification early in the history of coral FPs. Our results highlight the extent of convergent or parallel evolution of the color diversity in corals, provide the foundation for experimental studies of evolutionary processes that led to color diversification, and enable a comparative analysis of

  7. Variation in habitat soundscape characteristics influences settlement of a reef-building coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lillis, Ashlee; Bohnenstiehl, DelWayne; Peters, Jason W; Eggleston, David

    2016-01-01

    Coral populations, and the productive reef ecosystems they support, rely on successful recruitment of reef-building species, beginning with settlement of dispersing larvae into habitat favourable to survival. Many substrate cues have been identified as contributors to coral larval habitat selection; however, the potential for ambient acoustic cues to influence coral settlement responses is unknown. Using in situ settlement chambers that excluded other habitat cues, larval settlement of a dominant Caribbean reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata , was compared in response to three local soundscapes, with differing acoustic and habitat properties. Differences between reef sites in the number of larvae settled in chambers isolating acoustic cues corresponded to differences in sound levels and reef characteristics, with sounds at the loudest reef generating significantly higher settlement during trials compared to the quietest site (a 29.5 % increase). These results suggest that soundscapes could be an important influence on coral settlement patterns and that acoustic cues associated with reef habitat may be related to larval settlement. This study reports an effect of soundscape variation on larval settlement for a key coral species, and adds to the growing evidence that soundscapes affect marine ecosystems by influencing early life history processes of foundational species.

  8. Variation in habitat soundscape characteristics influences settlement of a reef-building coral

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ashlee Lillis

    2016-10-01

    Full Text Available Coral populations, and the productive reef ecosystems they support, rely on successful recruitment of reef-building species, beginning with settlement of dispersing larvae into habitat favourable to survival. Many substrate cues have been identified as contributors to coral larval habitat selection; however, the potential for ambient acoustic cues to influence coral settlement responses is unknown. Using in situ settlement chambers that excluded other habitat cues, larval settlement of a dominant Caribbean reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata, was compared in response to three local soundscapes, with differing acoustic and habitat properties. Differences between reef sites in the number of larvae settled in chambers isolating acoustic cues corresponded to differences in sound levels and reef characteristics, with sounds at the loudest reef generating significantly higher settlement during trials compared to the quietest site (a 29.5 % increase. These results suggest that soundscapes could be an important influence on coral settlement patterns and that acoustic cues associated with reef habitat may be related to larval settlement. This study reports an effect of soundscape variation on larval settlement for a key coral species, and adds to the growing evidence that soundscapes affect marine ecosystems by influencing early life history processes of foundational species.

  9. Temporal and taxonomic contrasts in coral growth at Davies Reef, central Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Anderson, Kristen D.; Cantin, Neal E.; Heron, Scott F.; Lough, Janice M.; Pratchett, Morgan S.

    2018-06-01

    Demographic processes, such as growth, can have an important influence on the population and community structure of reef-building corals. Importantly, ongoing changes in environmental conditions (e.g. ocean warming) are expected to affect coral growth, contributing to changes in the structure of coral populations and communities. This study quantified contemporary growth rates (linear extension and calcification) for the staghorn coral, Acropora muricata, at Davies Reef, central Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Growth rates were measured at three different depths (5, 10, and 15 m) over 2 yr (2012-2014) assessing both seasonal and inter-annual variability. Results of this study were compared to equivalent measurements made in 1980-1982 at the same location. To assist in understanding inter-annual variability in coral growth, we also examined annual growth bands from massive Porites providing continuous growth and records of flooding history for Davies Reef over the period 1979-2012. Linear extension rates of A. muricata were substantially (11-62%) lower in 2012-2014 compared to 1980-1982, especially at 10 and 15 m depths. These declines in growth coincide with a + 0.14 °C change in annual mean temperature. For massive Porites, however, calcification rates were highly variable among years and there was no discernible long-term change in growth despite sustained increases in temperature of 0.064 °C per decade. Apparent differences in the growth rates of Acropora between 1980-1982 and 2012-2014 may reflect inter-annual variation in coral growth (as seen for massive Porites), though it is known branching Acropora is much more sensitive to changing environmental conditions than massive corals. There are persistent issues in assessing the sensitivities of branching corals to environmental change due to limited capacity for retrospective analyses of growth, but given their disproportionate contribution to habitat complexity and reef structure, it is critical to ascertain

  10. RNA-Seq of the Caribbean reef-building coral Orbicella faveolata (Scleractinia-Merulinidae under bleaching and disease stress expands models of coral innate immunity

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    David A. Anderson

    2016-02-01

    Full Text Available Climate change-driven coral disease outbreaks have led to widespread declines in coral populations. Early work on coral genomics established that corals have a complex innate immune system, and whole-transcriptome gene expression studies have revealed mechanisms by which the coral immune system responds to stress and disease. The present investigation expands bioinformatic data available to study coral molecular physiology through the assembly and annotation of a reference transcriptome of the Caribbean reef-building coral, Orbicella faveolata. Samples were collected during a warm water thermal anomaly, coral bleaching event and Caribbean yellow band disease outbreak in 2010 in Puerto Rico. Multiplex sequencing of RNA on the Illumina GAIIx platform and de novo transcriptome assembly by Trinity produced 70,745,177 raw short-sequence reads and 32,463 O. faveolata transcripts, respectively. The reference transcriptome was annotated with gene ontologies, mapped to KEGG pathways, and a predicted proteome of 20,488 sequences was generated. Protein families and signaling pathways that are essential in the regulation of innate immunity across Phyla were investigated in-depth. Results were used to develop models of evolutionarily conserved Wnt, Notch, Rig-like receptor, Nod-like receptor, and Dicer signaling. O. faveolata is a coral species that has been studied widely under climate-driven stress and disease, and the present investigation provides new data on the genes that putatively regulate its immune system.

  11. The role of skeletal micro-architecture in diagenesis and dating of Acropora palmata

    OpenAIRE

    Tomiak, P. J.; Andersen, M. B.; Hendy, E. J.; Potter, E. K.; Johnson, K. G.; Penkman, K. E H

    2016-01-01

    Past variations in global sea-level reflect continental ice volume, a crucial factor for understanding the Earth’s climate system. The Caribbean coral Acropora palmata typically forms dense stands in very shallow water and therefore fossil samples mark past sea-level. Uranium-series methods are commonly used to establish a chronology for fossil coral reefs, but are compromised by post mortem diagenetic changes to coral skeleton. Current screening approaches are unable to identify all altered ...

  12. Microbial to reef scale interactions between the reef-building coral Montastraea annularis and benthic algae

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Barott, K.L.; Rodriguez-Mueller, B; Youle, M.; Marhaver, K.L.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Smith, J.E.; Rohwer, F.L.

    2012-01-01

    Competition between reef-building corals and benthic algae is of key importance for reef dynamics. These interactions occur on many spatial scales, ranging from chemical to regional. Using microprobes, 16S rDNA pyrosequencing and underwater surveys, we examined the interactions between the

  13. Indirect effects of overfishing on Caribbean reefs: sponges overgrow reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Loh, Tse-Lynn; McMurray, Steven E; Henkel, Timothy P; Vicente, Jan; Pawlik, Joseph R

    2015-01-01

    Consumer-mediated indirect effects at the community level are difficult to demonstrate empirically. Here, we show an explicit indirect effect of overfishing on competition between sponges and reef-building corals from surveys of 69 sites across the Caribbean. Leveraging the large-scale, long-term removal of sponge predators, we selected overfished sites where intensive methods, primarily fish-trapping, have been employed for decades or more, and compared them to sites in remote or marine protected areas (MPAs) with variable levels of enforcement. Sponge-eating fishes (angelfishes and parrotfishes) were counted at each site, and the benthos surveyed, with coral colonies scored for interaction with sponges. Overfished sites had >3 fold more overgrowth of corals by sponges, and mean coral contact with sponges was 25.6%, compared with 12.0% at less-fished sites. Greater contact with corals by sponges at overfished sites was mostly by sponge species palatable to sponge predators. Palatable species have faster rates of growth or reproduction than defended sponge species, which instead make metabolically expensive chemical defenses. These results validate the top-down conceptual model of sponge community ecology for Caribbean reefs, as well as provide an unambiguous justification for MPAs to protect threatened reef-building corals. An unanticipated outcome of the benthic survey component of this study was that overfished sites had lower mean macroalgal cover (23.1% vs. 38.1% for less-fished sites), a result that is contrary to prevailing assumptions about seaweed control by herbivorous fishes. Because we did not quantify herbivores for this study, we interpret this result with caution, but suggest that additional large-scale studies comparing intensively overfished and MPA sites are warranted to examine the relative impacts of herbivorous fishes and urchins on Caribbean reefs.

  14. Transcriptomic variation in a coral reveals pathways of clonal organisation

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    K Bay, Line; Nielsen, Henrik Bjørn; Jarmer, Hanne Østergaard

    2009-01-01

    A microarray study was undertaken to examine the potential for clonal gene expression variation in a branching reef building coral, Acropora millepora. The role of small-scale gradients in light and water flow was examined by comparing gene expression levels between branch elevation (tip and base......) and position (centre and edge) of replicate coral colonies (n=3). Analyses of variance revealed that almost 60% of variation in gene expression was present between colonies and 34 genes were considered differentially expressed between colonies (minimum P=6.5 x 10(-4)). These genes are associated with energy...... of corymbose-like branching coral colonies such as A. millepora. Four genes were differentially expressed between the tip and base of branches (P=3.239 x 10(-4)) and were associated with lysosome lipase activity and fluorescence, suggesting that branch tips may encounter higher pathogen loads or levels...

  15. CRCP-Acropora palmata fragment outplants: evaluating the performance in the Upper Florida Keys from 2014 to 2016 (NCEI Accession 0161630)

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce — This dataset contains condition and size of outplanted, cultured fragments of elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, observed in two separate experiments. Data tables give...

  16. Whole transcriptome analysis reveals changes in expression of immune-related genes during and after bleaching in a reef-building coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pinzón, Jorge H; Kamel, Bishoy; Burge, Colleen A; Harvell, C Drew; Medina, Mónica; Weil, Ernesto; Mydlarz, Laura D

    2015-04-01

    Climate change is negatively affecting the stability of natural ecosystems, especially coral reefs. The dissociation of the symbiosis between reef-building corals and their algal symbiont, or coral bleaching, has been linked to increased sea surface temperatures. Coral bleaching has significant impacts on corals, including an increase in disease outbreaks that can permanently change the entire reef ecosystem. Yet, little is known about the impacts of coral bleaching on the coral immune system. In this study, whole transcriptome analysis of the coral holobiont and each of the associate components (i.e. coral host, algal symbiont and other associated microorganisms) was used to determine changes in gene expression in corals affected by a natural bleaching event as well as during the recovery phase. The main findings include evidence that the coral holobiont and the coral host have different responses to bleaching, and the host immune system appears suppressed even a year after a bleaching event. These results support the hypothesis that coral bleaching changes the expression of innate immune genes of corals, and these effects can last even after recovery of symbiont populations. Research on the role of immunity on coral's resistance to stressors can help make informed predictions on the future of corals and coral reefs.

  17. Whole transcriptome analysis reveals changes in expression of immune-related genes during and after bleaching in a reef-building coral

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pinzón, Jorge H.; Kamel, Bishoy; Burge, Colleen A.; Harvell, C. Drew; Medina, Mónica; Weil, Ernesto; Mydlarz, Laura D.

    2015-01-01

    Climate change is negatively affecting the stability of natural ecosystems, especially coral reefs. The dissociation of the symbiosis between reef-building corals and their algal symbiont, or coral bleaching, has been linked to increased sea surface temperatures. Coral bleaching has significant impacts on corals, including an increase in disease outbreaks that can permanently change the entire reef ecosystem. Yet, little is known about the impacts of coral bleaching on the coral immune system. In this study, whole transcriptome analysis of the coral holobiont and each of the associate components (i.e. coral host, algal symbiont and other associated microorganisms) was used to determine changes in gene expression in corals affected by a natural bleaching event as well as during the recovery phase. The main findings include evidence that the coral holobiont and the coral host have different responses to bleaching, and the host immune system appears suppressed even a year after a bleaching event. These results support the hypothesis that coral bleaching changes the expression of innate immune genes of corals, and these effects can last even after recovery of symbiont populations. Research on the role of immunity on coral's resistance to stressors can help make informed predictions on the future of corals and coral reefs. PMID:26064625

  18. Species identity and depth predict bleaching severity in reef-building corals: shall the deep inherit the reef?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Muir, Paul R; Marshall, Paul A; Abdulla, Ameer; Aguirre, J David

    2017-10-11

    Mass bleaching associated with unusually high sea temperatures represents one of the greatest threats to corals and coral reef ecosystems. Deeper reef areas are hypothesized as potential refugia, but the susceptibility of Scleractinian species over depth has not been quantified. During the most severe bleaching event on record, we found up to 83% of coral cover severely affected on Maldivian reefs at a depth of 3-5 m, but significantly reduced effects at 24-30 m. Analysis of 153 species' responses showed depth, shading and species identity had strong, significant effects on susceptibility. Overall, 73.3% of the shallow-reef assemblage had individuals at a depth of 24-30 m with reduced effects, potentially mitigating local extinction and providing a source of recruits for population recovery. Although susceptibility was phylogenetically constrained, species-level effects caused most lineages to contain some partially resistant species. Many genera showed wide variation between species, including Acropora, previously considered highly susceptible. Extinction risk estimates showed species and lineages of concern and those likely to dominate following repeated events. Our results show that deeper reef areas provide refuge for a large proportion of Scleractinian species during severe bleaching events and that the deepest occurring individuals of each population have the greatest potential to survive and drive reef recovery. © 2017 The Author(s).

  19. Intraspecific variation in physiological condition of reef-building corals associated with differential levels of chronic disturbance.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pisapia, Chiara; Anderson, Kristen; Pratchett, Morgan S

    2014-01-01

    Even in the absence of major disturbances (e.g., cyclones, bleaching), corals are subject to high levels of partial or whole-colony mortality, often caused by chronic and small-scale disturbances. Depending on levels of background mortality, these chronic disturbances may undermine individual fitness and have significant consequences on the ability of colonies to withstand subsequent acute disturbances or environmental change. This study quantified intraspecific variations in physiological condition (measured based on total lipid content and zooxanthellae density) through time in adult colonies of two common and widespread coral species (Acropora spathulata and Pocillopora damicornis), subject to different levels of biological and physical disturbances along the most disturbed reef habitat, the crest. Marked intraspecific variation in the physiological condition of A. spathulata was clearly linked to differences in local disturbance regimes and habitat. Specifically, zooxanthellae density decreased (r2 = 26, df = 5,42, pzooxanthellae density was strongly and negatively correlated with the individual level of partial mortality (r2 = 26, df = 5,42, pclimate-induced coral bleaching.

  20. Evidence for Rhythmicity Pacemaker in the Calcification Process of Scleractinian Coral

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gutner-Hoch, Eldad; Schneider, Kenneth; Stolarski, Jaroslaw; Domart-Coulon, Isabelle; Yam, Ruth; Meibom, Anders; Shemesh, Aldo; Levy, Oren

    2016-02-01

    Reef-building scleractinian (stony) corals are among the most efficient bio-mineralizing organisms in nature. The calcification rate of scleractinian corals oscillates under ambient light conditions, with a cyclic, diurnal pattern. A fundamental question is whether this cyclic pattern is controlled by exogenous signals or by an endogenous ‘biological-clock’ mechanism, or both. To address this problem, we have studied calcification patterns of the Red Sea scleractinian coral Acropora eurystoma with frequent measurements of total alkalinity (AT) under different light conditions. Additionally, skeletal extension and ultra-structure of newly deposited calcium carbonate were elucidated with 86Sr isotope labeling analysis, combined with NanoSIMS ion microprobe and scanning electron microscope imaging. Our results show that the calcification process persists with its cyclic pattern under constant light conditions while dissolution takes place within one day of constant dark conditions, indicating that an intrinsic, light-entrained mechanism may be involved in controlling the calcification process in photosymbiotic corals.

  1. Symbiodinium genotypic and environmental controls on lipids in reef building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Timothy F Cooper

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Lipids in reef building corals can be divided into two classes; non-polar storage lipids, e.g. wax esters and triglycerides, and polar structural lipids, e.g. phospholipids and cholesterol. Differences among algal endosymbiont types are known to have important influences on processes including growth and the photobiology of scleractinian corals yet very little is known about the role of symbiont types on lipid energy reserves. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The ratio of storage lipid and structural lipid fractions of Scott Reef corals were determined by thin layer chromatography. The lipid fraction ratio varied with depth and depended on symbiont type harboured by two corals (Seriatopora hystrix and Pachyseris speciosa. S. hystrix colonies associated with Symbiodinium C1 or C1/C# at deep depths (>23 m had lower lipid fraction ratios (i.e. approximately equal parts of storage and structural lipids than those with Symbiodinium D1 in shallow depths (<23 m, which had higher lipid fraction ratios (i.e. approximately double amounts of storage relative to structural lipid. Further, there was a non-linear relationship between the lipid fraction ratio and depth for S. hystrix with a modal peak at ∼23 m coinciding with the same depth as the shift from clade D to C types. In contrast, the proportional relationship between the lipid fraction ratio and depth for P. speciosa, which exhibited high specificity for Symbiodinium C3 like across the depth gradient, was indicative of greater amounts of storage lipids contained in the deep colonies. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study has demonstrated that Symbiodinium exert significant controls over the quality of coral energy reserves over a large-scale depth gradient. We conclude that the competitive advantages and metabolic costs that arise from flexible associations with divergent symbiont types are offset by energetic trade-offs for the coral host.

  2. A coral-on-a-chip microfluidic platform enabling live-imaging microscopy of reef-building corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shapiro, Orr H.; Kramarsky-Winter, Esti; Gavish, Assaf R.; Stocker, Roman; Vardi, Assaf

    2016-01-01

    Coral reefs, and the unique ecosystems they support, are facing severe threats by human activities and climate change. Our understanding of these threats is hampered by the lack of robust approaches for studying the micro-scale interactions between corals and their environment. Here we present an experimental platform, coral-on-a-chip, combining micropropagation and microfluidics to allow direct microscopic study of live coral polyps. The small and transparent coral micropropagates are ideally suited for live-imaging microscopy, while the microfluidic platform facilitates long-term visualization under controlled environmental conditions. We demonstrate the usefulness of this approach by imaging coral micropropagates at previously unattainable spatio-temporal resolutions, providing new insights into several micro-scale processes including coral calcification, coral–pathogen interaction and the loss of algal symbionts (coral bleaching). Coral-on-a-chip thus provides a powerful method for studying coral physiology in vivo at the micro-scale, opening new vistas in coral biology. PMID:26940983

  3. Intraspecific Variation in Physiological Condition of Reef-Building Corals Associated with Differential Levels of Chronic Disturbance

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pisapia, Chiara; Anderson, Kristen; Pratchett, Morgan S.

    2014-01-01

    Even in the absence of major disturbances (e.g., cyclones, bleaching), corals are subject to high levels of partial or whole-colony mortality, often caused by chronic and small-scale disturbances. Depending on levels of background mortality, these chronic disturbances may undermine individual fitness and have significant consequences on the ability of colonies to withstand subsequent acute disturbances or environmental change. This study quantified intraspecific variations in physiological condition (measured based on total lipid content and zooxanthellae density) through time in adult colonies of two common and widespread coral species (Acropora spathulata and Pocillopora damicornis), subject to different levels of biological and physical disturbances along the most disturbed reef habitat, the crest. Marked intraspecific variation in the physiological condition of A. spathulata was clearly linked to differences in local disturbance regimes and habitat. Specifically, zooxanthellae density decreased (r2 = 26, df = 5,42, pzooxanthellae density was strongly and negatively correlated with the individual level of partial mortality (r2 = 26, df = 5,42, p<0.02, B =  −7386077, p = 0.01). Conversely, P. damicornis exhibited very limited intraspecific variation in physiological condition, despite marked differences in levels of partial mortality. This is the first study to relate intraspecific variation in the condition of corals to localized differences in chronic disturbance regimes. The next step is to ascertain whether these differences have further ramifications for susceptibility to periodic acute disturbances, such as climate-induced coral bleaching. PMID:24626395

  4. Intraspecific variation in physiological condition of reef-building corals associated with differential levels of chronic disturbance.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Chiara Pisapia

    Full Text Available Even in the absence of major disturbances (e.g., cyclones, bleaching, corals are subject to high levels of partial or whole-colony mortality, often caused by chronic and small-scale disturbances. Depending on levels of background mortality, these chronic disturbances may undermine individual fitness and have significant consequences on the ability of colonies to withstand subsequent acute disturbances or environmental change. This study quantified intraspecific variations in physiological condition (measured based on total lipid content and zooxanthellae density through time in adult colonies of two common and widespread coral species (Acropora spathulata and Pocillopora damicornis, subject to different levels of biological and physical disturbances along the most disturbed reef habitat, the crest. Marked intraspecific variation in the physiological condition of A. spathulata was clearly linked to differences in local disturbance regimes and habitat. Specifically, zooxanthellae density decreased (r2 = 26, df = 5,42, p<0.02, B =  -121255, p = 0.03 and total lipid content increased (r2 = 14, df = 5,42, p = 0.01, B = 0.9, p = 0.01 with increasing distance from exposed crests. Moreover, zooxanthellae density was strongly and negatively correlated with the individual level of partial mortality (r2 = 26, df = 5,42, p<0.02, B =  -7386077, p = 0.01. Conversely, P. damicornis exhibited very limited intraspecific variation in physiological condition, despite marked differences in levels of partial mortality. This is the first study to relate intraspecific variation in the condition of corals to localized differences in chronic disturbance regimes. The next step is to ascertain whether these differences have further ramifications for susceptibility to periodic acute disturbances, such as climate-induced coral bleaching.

  5. DNA barcode of Acropora hyacinthus of Karimunjawa Archipelago

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wijayanti, D. P.; Indrayanti, E.; Nuryadi, H.; Rintiantono, S. A.; Sabdono, A.

    2018-03-01

    Karimunjawa is one of the earliest marine parks in Indonesia. Karimunjawa National Park (KNP) was designated as a marine conservation area to conserve marine resources from destructive fishing activities. Scleractinian corals in the genus Acropora are among the most dominant distributed in the KNPs, including the species of Acropora hyacinthus. Here, we present a comprehensive analysis of intra- and interspecific COI variabilities in A. hyacinthus to analyze genetic diversity and to describe the kinship relationship of the coral between 5 localities of the reefs. Genetic marker Cytochrome Oxidase I of the mitochondrial genome DNA (mtDNA) was used to analyze genetic diversity. Reconstruction of phylogenetic tree and genetic diversity were made by using software MEGA 5.05 (Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis). The results indicate corals A. hyacinthus from five localities of Karimunjawa Archipelago are in the high category of genetic diversity. However, the five populations showed a close genetic relationship of kinship. This is likely due to the small size of the population and few numbers of samples that may not represent the population. The results may aid managers of the park in the selection of appropriate propagules sources which can help to restore important data for conservation and sustain coral reef resources.

  6. Contemporary white-band disease in Caribbean corals driven by climate change

    Science.gov (United States)

    Randall, C. J.; van Woesik, R.

    2015-04-01

    Over the past 40 years, two of the dominant reef-building corals in the Caribbean, Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis, have experienced unprecedented declines. That loss has been largely attributed to a syndrome commonly referred to as white-band disease. Climate change-driven increases in sea surface temperature (SST) have been linked to several coral diseases, yet, despite decades of research, the attribution of white-band disease to climate change remains unknown. Here we hindcasted the potential relationship between recent ocean warming and outbreaks of white-band disease on acroporid corals. We quantified eight SST metrics, including rates of change in SST and contemporary thermal anomalies, and compared them with records of white-band disease on A. palmata and A. cervicornis from 473 sites across the Caribbean, surveyed from 1997 to 2004. The results of our models suggest that decades-long climate-driven changes in SST, increases in thermal minima, and the breach of thermal maxima have all played significant roles in the spread of white-band disease. We conclude that white-band disease has been strongly coupled with thermal stresses associated with climate change, which has contributed to the regional decline of these once-dominant reef-building corals.

  7. Coral restoration Bonaire : an evaluation of growth, regeneration and survival

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Meesters, H.W.G.; Boomstra, B.; Hurtado-Lopez, N.; Montbrun, A.; Virdis, F.

    2015-01-01

    The Coral restoration of Staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and Elkhorn (A. palmata) as practiced by the Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire (CRFB) is shown to be highly successful in terms of growth and survival of new colonies, in both nurseries and transplant locations. Coral restoration is

  8. Nota sobre la densidad y tasa de depredación de Coralliophila abbreviata y Coralliophila caribaea sobre colonias jóvenes de Acropora palmata en un arrecife deteriorado de Cayo Sombrero, Parque Nacional Morrocoy, Venezuela Note on density and predation rate of Coralliophila abbreviata and Coralliophila caribaea on juvenile colonies of Acropora palmata in a deteriorated coral reef of Cayo Sombrero, Morrocoy National Park, Venezuela

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Carlos del Mónaco

    2011-01-01

    Full Text Available Los arrecifes del Parque Nacional Morrocoy (PNM se encuentran actualmente impactados. Posterior a la mortandad masiva ocurrida en 1996, ha habido indicios de recuperación de Acropora palmata. Este proceso podría ser retrasado por Coralliophila. Se observaron solamente tres colonias de A. palmata en todo un arrecife de Cayo Sombrero. En julio 2005 estas presentaron densidades de Coralliophila abbreviata de 4, 0 y 2 ind/col y de Coralliophila caribaea de 22, 14 y 0 ind/col y, en enero 2006 las densidades fueron: 8, 0 y 4 ind/col de C abbreviata y 22, 14 y 0 ind/col de C caribaea. En las tres colonias se observaron cuatro lesiones (dos de cada depredador. Hubo pérdida de tejido de 66,14 cm a 162,85 cm en las lesiones ocasionadas por C abbreviata, con tasa de depredación de 0,52 cm día-1 en una de ellas, mientras que en otra fue de 37,41 a 72,50 cm con tasa de depredación de 0,19 cm día-1 . Las lesiones generadas por C caribaea no cambiaron. Es probable que el efecto de Coralliophila afecte la recuperación de A. palmata en el PNM, considerando la alta densidad de depredadores y la escasa abundancia de este coral en este parque.The coral reefs of Morrocoy National Park are currently deteriorated. After the massive mortality of 1996, Acropora palmata has shown some signs of recovery, a process that could be hampered by Coralliophila. We observed only three colonies of A. palmata in an entire reef in Cayo Sombrero. In July 2005, these colonies registered Coralliophila abbreviata densities of 4, 0, and 2 ind/col and Coralliophila caribaea densities of 22, 14, and 0 ind/col; in January 2006, said densities were 8, 0, and 4 ind/col (C. abbreviaté and 22, 14, and 0 ind/col (C. caribaea. Four sites of damage (two per predator were observed in the three colonies. In one colony, C abbreviata caused a loss of tissue of 66.14 to 162.85 cm , indicating a predation rate of 0.52 cm² day-1. In the other colony, the damage ranged from 37.41 to 72.50 cm2

  9. Macroalgae Decrease Growth and Alter Microbial Community Structure of the Reef-Building Coral, Porites astreoides

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vega Thurber, Rebecca; Burkepile, Deron E.; Correa, Adrienne M. S.; Thurber, Andrew R.; Shantz, Andrew A.; Welsh, Rory; Pritchard, Catharine; Rosales, Stephanie

    2012-01-01

    With the continued and unprecedented decline of coral reefs worldwide, evaluating the factors that contribute to coral demise is of critical importance. As coral cover declines, macroalgae are becoming more common on tropical reefs. Interactions between these macroalgae and corals may alter the coral microbiome, which is thought to play an important role in colony health and survival. Together, such changes in benthic macroalgae and in the coral microbiome may result in a feedback mechanism that contributes to additional coral cover loss. To determine if macroalgae alter the coral microbiome, we conducted a field-based experiment in which the coral Porites astreoides was placed in competition with five species of macroalgae. Macroalgal contact increased variance in the coral-associated microbial community, and two algal species significantly altered microbial community composition. All macroalgae caused the disappearance of a γ-proteobacterium previously hypothesized to be an important mutualist of P. astreoides. Macroalgal contact also triggered: 1) increases or 2) decreases in microbial taxa already present in corals, 3) establishment of new taxa to the coral microbiome, and 4) vectoring and growth of microbial taxa from the macroalgae to the coral. Furthermore, macroalgal competition decreased coral growth rates by an average of 36.8%. Overall, this study found that competition between corals and certain species of macroalgae leads to an altered coral microbiome, providing a potential mechanism by which macroalgae-coral interactions reduce coral health and lead to coral loss on impacted reefs. PMID:22957055

  10. Macroalgae decrease growth and alter microbial community structure of the reef-building coral, Porites astreoides.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Rebecca Vega Thurber

    Full Text Available With the continued and unprecedented decline of coral reefs worldwide, evaluating the factors that contribute to coral demise is of critical importance. As coral cover declines, macroalgae are becoming more common on tropical reefs. Interactions between these macroalgae and corals may alter the coral microbiome, which is thought to play an important role in colony health and survival. Together, such changes in benthic macroalgae and in the coral microbiome may result in a feedback mechanism that contributes to additional coral cover loss. To determine if macroalgae alter the coral microbiome, we conducted a field-based experiment in which the coral Porites astreoides was placed in competition with five species of macroalgae. Macroalgal contact increased variance in the coral-associated microbial community, and two algal species significantly altered microbial community composition. All macroalgae caused the disappearance of a γ-proteobacterium previously hypothesized to be an important mutualist of P. astreoides. Macroalgal contact also triggered: 1 increases or 2 decreases in microbial taxa already present in corals, 3 establishment of new taxa to the coral microbiome, and 4 vectoring and growth of microbial taxa from the macroalgae to the coral. Furthermore, macroalgal competition decreased coral growth rates by an average of 36.8%. Overall, this study found that competition between corals and certain species of macroalgae leads to an altered coral microbiome, providing a potential mechanism by which macroalgae-coral interactions reduce coral health and lead to coral loss on impacted reefs.

  11. Clipperton Atoll (eastern Pacific): oceanography, geomorphology, reef-building coral ecology and biogeography

    Science.gov (United States)

    Glynn, P. W.; Veron, J. E. N.; Wellington, G. M.

    1996-06-01

    Coral reef geomorphology and community composition were investigated in the tropical northeastern Pacific during April 1994. Three areas were surveyed in the Revillagigedo Islands (Mexico), and an intensive study was conducted on Clipperton Atoll (1,300 km SW of Acapulco), including macro-scale surface circulation, sea surface temperature (SST) climatology, geomorphology, coral community structure, zonation, and biogeography. Satellite-tracked drifter buoys from 1979 1993 demonstrated complex patterns of surface circulation with dominantly easterly flow (North Equatorial Counter Current, NECC), but also westerly currents (South Equatorial Current, SEC) that could transport propagules to Clipperton from both central and eastern Pacific regions. The northernmost latitude reached by the NECC is not influenced by El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, but easterly flow velocity evidently is accelerated at such times. Maximum NECC flow rates indicate that the eastern Pacific barrier can be bridged in 60 to 120 days. SST anomalies at Clipperton occur during ENSO events and were greater at Clipperton in 1987 than during 1982 1983. Shallow (15 18 m)and deep (50 58 m) terraces are present around most of Clipperton, probably representing Modern and late Pleistocene sea level stands. Although Clipperton is a well developed atoll with high coral cover, the reef-building fauna is depauperate, consisting of only 7 species of scleractinian corals belonging to the genera Pocillopora, Porites, Pavona and Leptoseris, and 1 species of hydrocoral in the genus Millepora. The identities of the one Pocilpopora species and one of the two Porites species are still unknown. Two of the remaining scleractinians ( Pavona minuta, Leptoseris scabra) and the hydrocoral ( Millepora exaesa), all formerly known from central and western Pacific localities, represent new eastern Pacific records. Scleractinian corals predominate (10 100% cover) over insular shelf depths of 8 to 60m, and crustose

  12. The diversity and biogeography of Western Indian Ocean reef-building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    David Obura

    Full Text Available This study assesses the biogeographic classification of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO on the basis of the species diversity and distribution of reef-building corals. Twenty one locations were sampled between 2002 and 2011. Presence/absence of scleractinian corals was noted on SCUBA, with the aid of underwater digital photographs and reference publications for species identification. Sampling effort varied from 7 to 37 samples per location, with 15 to 45 minutes per dive allocated to species observations, depending on the logistics on each trip. Species presence/absence was analyzed using the Bray-Curtis similarity coefficient, followed by cluster analysis and multi-dimensional scaling. Total (asymptotic species number per location was estimated using the Michaelis-Menten equation. Three hundred and sixty nine coral species were named with stable identifications and used for analysis. At the location level, estimated maximum species richness ranged from 297 (Nacala, Mozambique to 174 (Farquhar, Seychelles. Locations in the northern Mozambique Channel had the highest diversity and similarity, forming a core region defined by its unique oceanography of variable meso-scale eddies that confer high connectivity within this region. A distinction between mainland and island fauna was not found; instead, diversity decreased radially from the northern Mozambique Channel. The Chagos archipelago was closely related to the northern Mozambique Channel region, and analysis of hard coral data in the IUCN Red List found Chagos to be more closely related to the WIO than to the Maldives, India and Sri Lanka. Diversity patterns were consistent with primary oceanographic drivers in the WIO, reflecting inflow of the South Equatorial Current, maintenance of high diversity in the northern Mozambique Channel, and export from this central region to the north and south, and to the Seychelles and Mascarene islands.

  13. High reproductive synchrony of Acropora (Anthozoa: Scleractinia) in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Bouwmeester, Jessica

    2015-01-05

    Coral spawning in the northern Gulf of Aqaba has been reported to be asynchronous, making it almost unique when compared to other regions in the world. Here, we document the reproductive condition of Acropora corals in early June 2014 in Dahab, in the Gulf of Aqaba, 125 km south of previous studies conducted in Eilat, Israel. Seventy-eight percent of Acropora colonies from 14 species had mature eggs, indicating that most colonies will spawn on or around the June full moon, with a very high probability of multi-species synchronous spawning. Given the proximity to Eilat, we predict that a comparable sampling protocol would detect similar levels of reproductive synchrony throughout the Gulf of Aqaba consistent with the hypothesis that high levels of spawning synchrony are a feature of all speciose coral assemblages.

  14. Genetic diversity of the Acropora-associated hydrozoans: new insight from the Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Maggioni, Davide

    2017-01-21

    To date, four nominal species and several other unidentified species of Zanclea hydrozoans are known to live symbiotically with scleractinians, and recent surveys reported this association also in the Red Sea. Previous molecular studies showed that each coral genus involved in this association hosts only one species or molecular clade of Zanclea, with the only exception being the genus Acropora, which hosts at least two Zanclea species. Moreover, some of the detected genetic lineages were morphologically undistinguishable in the polyp stage, suggesting the presence of cryptic species. In this study, we investigated the morphology and genetic diversity of Acropora-associated Zanclea specimens collected in previous studies in Egypt and Israel, as well as new samples collected in Saudi Arabia. Based on the current data, all the analysed samples were morphologically identical to Zanclea gallii, a species associated with Acropora corals from the Maldives. However, molecular analyses separated the samples collected in the Red Sea from all other coral-associated hydroids. Therefore, phylogenetic reconstructions, haplotype networks, genetic distance analyses and distribution data allowed us to identify a previously unknown cryptic species of Acropora-associated hydroid, here named Zanclea gallii IIa, following a recently proposed molecular nomenclature.

  15. The Acid Test: Calcium Signaling in the Skeletogenic Layer of Reef-Building Coral

    Science.gov (United States)

    Florn, A. M.

    2016-02-01

    Since the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have increased more than 40%. This increased atmospheric CO2 drives ocean acidification and has potentially serious consequences for all marine life, especially calcifying organisms. The specific goal of this study was to examine calcium homeostasis and signaling dynamics within the skeletogenic tissue layers (calicodermal cells) of two coral species (Pavona maldivensis and Porites rus) at three pH treatments corresponding to present-future ocean acidification levels. Confocal microscopy techniques were used to analyze in vivo calcium dynamics of the calicodermal cells in Pavona maldivensis and Porites rus. The results show biological variation between the two reef-building coral species and their response to ocean acidification. Pavona maldivensis showed a significant difference (p < 0.01) in the ionomycin-induced calcium response among the pH treatments, but not among the microcolonies. Porites rus did not show a significant difference (p < 0.01) in the ionomycin-induced calcium response among the pH treatments or the microcolonies. Upon comparing the calcium response curves, the ionomycin-induced calcium response exhibited by Pavona maldivensis is phenomenologically similar to a calcium response that is commonly found in vertebrates. This well-studied phenomenon in vertebrate biology is known as store-operated calcium entry (SOCE) and is closely associated with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria-associated endoplasmic reticulum (MAM) calcium stores. This study provides insight into the preliminary steps needed to understand in vivo calcium signaling in the calicodermis of reef-building coral and the associated consequences of ocean acidification.

  16. Sexual systems in scleractinian corals: an unusual pattern in the reef-building species Diploastrea heliopora

    Science.gov (United States)

    Guest, J. R.; Baird, A. H.; Goh, B. P. L.; Chou, L. M.

    2012-09-01

    The sexual system in corals refers to the spatial and temporal pattern of sexual function within an individual coral polyp, colony or population. Although information on sexual systems now exists for over 400 scleractinian species, data are still lacking for some important reef-building taxa. The vast majority of scleractinians are either simultaneous hermaphrodites or gonochoric with other sexual systems rarely occurring. Diploastrea heliopora is one of the most ubiquitous and easily recognised reef-building species in the Indo-West Pacific; however, surprisingly little is known about its reproductive biology. The aim of the present study was to examine the reproductive biology of D. heliopora colonies on chronically impacted, equatorial reefs south of Singapore. Here we show that in Singapore, D. heliopora is a broadcast spawner with predominantly gonochoric polyps. Colonies, however, contained male, female and a low proportion of cosexual polyps during the 14-month sampling period. The most plausible explanation for this is that polyps switch sexes with oogenic and spermatogenic cycles occasionally overlapping. This leads to colony level alternation of sex function within and between breeding seasons. While this sexual system is atypical for scleractinians, it supports molecular evidence that D. heliopora is phylogenetically distinct from species formerly in the family Faviidae.

  17. Assessment of Acropora palmata in the Mesoamerican Reef System.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rodríguez-Martínez, Rosa E; Banaszak, Anastazia T; McField, Melanie D; Beltrán-Torres, Aurora U; Álvarez-Filip, Lorenzo

    2014-01-01

    The once-dominant shallow reef-building coral Acropora palmata has suffered drastic geographical declines in the wider Caribbean from a disease epidemic that began in the late 1970s. At present there is a lack of quantitative data to determine whether this species is recovering over large spatial scales. Here, we use quantitative surveys conducted in 107 shallow-water reef sites between 2010 and 2012 to investigate the current distribution and abundance of A. palmata along the Mesoamerican Reef System (MRS). Using historical data we also explored how the distribution and abundance of this species has changed in the northern portion of the MRS between 1985 and 2010-2012. A. palmata was recorded in only a fifth of the surveyed reef sites in 2010-2012. In the majority of these reef sites the presence of A. palmata was patchy and rare. Only one site (Limones reef), in the northernmost portion of the MRS, presented considerably high A. palmata cover (mean: 34.7%, SD: 24.5%). At this site, the size-frequency distribution of A. palmata colonies was skewed towards small colony sizes; 84% of the colonies were healthy, however disease prevalence increased with colony size. A comparison with historical data showed that in the northern portion of the MRS, in 1985, A. palmata occurred in 74% of the 31 surveyed sites and had a mean cover of 7.7% (SD = 9.0), whereas in 2010-2012 this species was recorded in 48% of the sites with a mean cover of 2.9% (SD = 7.5). A. palmata populations along the MRS are failing to recover the distribution and abundance they had prior to the 1980s. Investigating the biological (e.g., population genetics) and environmental conditions (e.g., sources of stress) of the few standing reefs with relatively high A. palmata cover is crucial for the development of informed restoration models for this species.

  18. Recovery from a near-lethal exposure to ultraviolet-C radiation in a scleractinian coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Basti, David; Bricknell, Ian; Beane, Dawna; Bouchard, Deborah

    2009-04-01

    Hermatypic (reef building) corals live in an environment characterized by high ambient levels of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Photoadaptive mechanisms have evolved to protect the sensitive cell structures of the host coral and their photosynthetic, endosymbiotic zooxanthellae. Environmental stressors may destabilize the coral-zooxanthellae system resulting in the expulsion of zooxanthellae and/or loss of photosynthetic pigment within zooxanthellae, causing a condition known as bleaching. It is estimated that 1% of the world's coral population is lost yearly, partly due to bleaching. Despite intensive research efforts, a single unified mechanism cannot explain this phenomenon. Although UVA and UVB cellular damage is well documented, UVC damage is rarely reported due to its almost complete absorption in the stratosphere. A small scale coral propagation system at the University of Maine was accidentally exposed to 15.5h of UVC radiation (253.7 nm) from a G15T8 germicidal lamp, resulting in a cumulative surface irradiance of 8.39 x 10(4) J m(-2). An experiment was designed to monitor the progression of UVC induced damage. Branch sections from affected scleractinian corals, Acropora yongei and Acropora formosa were submitted to histopathology to provide an historical record of tissue response. The death of gastrodermal cells and necrosis resulted in the release of intracellular zooxanthellae into the gastrovascular canals. Zooxanthellae were also injured as evidenced by pale coloration, increased vacuolization and loss of membrane integrity. The recovery of damaged coral tissue likely proceeds by re-epithelialization and zooxanthellae repopulation of gastrodermal cells by adjacent healthy tissue.

  19. Holobiont Diversity in a Reef-Building Coral over Its Entire Depth Range in the Mesophotic Zone

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Fanny L. Gonzalez-Zapata

    2018-02-01

    Full Text Available Mesophotic reef-building coral communities (~30–120 m depth remain largely unexplored, despite representing roughly three-quarters of the overall depth range at which tropical coral reef ecosystems occur. Although many coral species are restricted to shallow depths, several species occur across large depth ranges, including lower mesophotic depths. Yet, it remains unclear how such species can persist under extreme low-light conditions and how the different symbiotic partners associated with these corals contribute to facilitate such broad depth ranges. We assessed holobiont genetic diversity of the Caribbean coral Agaricia undata over depth in three localities of Colombia: San Andres Island (between 37 and 85 m, Cartagena (between 17 and 45 m and “Parque Nacional Natural Corales de Profundidad” (between 77 and 87 m. We used a population genomics approach (NextRAD for the coral host, and amplicon sequencing for the associated Symbiodinium (non-coding region of the plastid psbA minicircle and prokaryotic (V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene symbiont community. For the coral host, genetic structuring was only observed across geographic regions, but not between depths. Bayesian clustering and discriminant analysis of principal components revealed genetic structuring between the three regions, but not between shallow (<30 m, upper (≥30 and ≤60 m and lower mesophotic (>60 m depths. This pattern was confirmed when evaluating pairwise differentiation (FST between populations, with much higher values between regions (0.0467–0.1034 compared to between depths [within location; −0.0075–(−0.0007]. Symbiotic partners, including seven types of zooxanthellae and 325 prokaryotic OTUs, did not exhibit partitioning across depths. All samples hosted Symbiodinium clade C3 and the type C3psbA_e was present in all depths. Alpha microbial diversity was not significantly different between zones (upper vs. lower, which community composition between coral

  20. Can mesophotic reefs replenish shallow reefs? Reduced coral reproductive performance casts a doubt.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shlesinger, Tom; Grinblat, Mila; Rapuano, Hanna; Amit, Tal; Loya, Yossi

    2018-02-01

    Mesophotic coral ecosystems (i.e., deep coral reefs at 30-120 m depth) appear to be thriving while many shallow reefs in the world are declining. Amid efforts to understand and manage their decline, it was suggested that mesophotic reefs might serve as natural refuges and a possible source of propagules for the shallow reefs. However, our knowledge of how reproductive performance of corals alters with depth is sparse. Here, we present a comprehensive study of the reproductive phenology, fecundity, and abundance of seven reef-building conspecific corals in shallow and mesophotic habitats. Significant differences were found in the synchrony and timing of gametogenesis and spawning between shallow and mesophotic coral populations. Thus, mesophotic populations exhibited delayed or protracted spawning events, which led to spawning of the mesophotic colonies in large proportions at times where the shallow ones had long been depleted of reproductive material. All species investigated demonstrated a substantial reduction in fecundity and/or oocyte sizes at mesophotic depths (40-60 m). Two species (Seriatopora hystrix and Galaxea fascicularis) displayed a reduction in both fecundity and oocyte size at mesophotic depths. Turbinaria reniformis had only reduced fecundity and Acropora squarrosa and Acropora valida only reduced oocyte size. In Montipora verrucosa, reduced fecundity was found during one annual reproductive season while, in the following year, only reduced oocyte size was found. In contrast, reduced oocyte size in mesophotic populations of Acropora squarrosa was consistent along three studied years. One species, Acropora pharaonis, was found to be infertile at mesophotic depths along two studied years. This indicates that reproductive performance decreases with depth; and that although some species are capable of reproducing at mesophotic depths, their contribution to the replenishment of shallow reefs may be inconsequential. Reduced reproductive performance

  1. Sensitivity of calcification to thermal stress varies among genera of massive reef-building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Juan P Carricart-Ganivet

    Full Text Available Reductions in calcification in reef-building corals occur when thermal conditions are suboptimal, but it is unclear how they vary between genera in response to the same thermal stress event. Using densitometry techniques, we investigate reductions in the calcification rate of massive Porites spp. from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR, and P. astreoides, Montastraea faveolata, and M. franksi from the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (MBR, and correlate them to thermal stress associated with ocean warming. Results show that Porites spp. are more sensitive to increasing temperature than Montastraea, with calcification rates decreasing by 0.40 g cm(-2 year(-1 in Porites spp. and 0.12 g cm(-2 year(-1 in Montastraea spp. for each 1°C increase. Under similar warming trends, the predicted calcification rates at 2100 are close to zero in Porites spp. and reduced by 40% in Montastraea spp. However, these predictions do not account for ocean acidification. Although yearly mean aragonite saturation (Ω(ar at MBR sites has recently decreased, only P. astreoides at Chinchorro showed a reduction in calcification. In corals at the other sites calcification did not change, indicating there was no widespread effect of Ω(ar changes on coral calcification rate in the MBR. Even in the absence of ocean acidification, differential reductions in calcification between Porites spp. and Montastraea spp. associated with warming might be expected to have significant ecological repercussions. For instance, Porites spp. invest increased calcification in extension, and under warming scenarios it may reduce their ability to compete for space. As a consequence, shifts in taxonomic composition would be expected in Indo-Pacific reefs with uncertain repercussions for biodiversity. By contrast, Montastraea spp. use their increased calcification resources to construct denser skeletons. Reductions in calcification would therefore make them more susceptible to both physical and biological

  2. Nine novel, polymorphic microsatellite markers for the study of threatened Caribbean acroporid corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baums, I B; Devlin-Durante, M K; Brown, L; Pinzón, J H

    2009-07-01

    Caribbean reef-building corals in the genus Acropora have been declining dramatically since the 1980s and are now listed as threatened. The study of their complex reproductive system (mixed asexual and sexual) and their population structure requires highly polymorphic nuclear genetic markers. Of eight previously developed microsatellite loci for A. palmata, only five behaved in a Mendelian fashion and only four reliably amplified the sister species, A. cervicornis. Here, nine novel microsatellite markers are presented that dramatically increase the power to distinguish between asexual and sexual reproductive events and may help to refine population boundaries and gene flow across their ranges. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

  3. Preconditioning in the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis and the potential for trans-generational acclimatization in coral larvae under future climate change conditions.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Putnam, Hollie M; Gates, Ruth D

    2015-08-01

    Coral reefs are globally threatened by climate change-related ocean warming and ocean acidification (OA). To date, slow-response mechanisms such as genetic adaptation have been considered the major determinant of coral reef persistence, with little consideration of rapid-response acclimatization mechanisms. These rapid mechanisms such as parental effects that can contribute to trans-generational acclimatization (e.g. epigenetics) have, however, been identified as important contributors to offspring response in other systems. We present the first evidence of parental effects in a cross-generational exposure to temperature and OA in reef-building corals. Here, we exposed adults to high (28.9°C, 805 µatm P(CO2)) or ambient (26.5°C, 417 µatm P(CO2)) temperature and OA treatments during the larval brooding period. Exposure to high treatment negatively affected adult performance, but their larvae exhibited size differences and metabolic acclimation when subsequently re-exposed, unlike larvae from parents exposed to ambient conditions. Understanding the innate capacity corals possess to respond to current and future climatic conditions is essential to reef protection and maintenance. Our results identify that parental effects may have an important role through (1) ameliorating the effects of stress through preconditioning and adaptive plasticity, and/or (2) amplifying the negative parental response through latent effects on future life stages. Whether the consequences of parental effects and the potential for trans-generational acclimatization are beneficial or maladaptive, our work identifies a critical need to expand currently proposed climate change outcomes for corals to further assess rapid response mechanisms that include non-genetic inheritance through parental contributions and classical epigenetic mechanisms. © 2015. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.

  4. Survival and growth of the giant clam larvae utilizing zooxanthellae from Acropora valenciennesi, Tridacna crocea and Sarcophyton trocheliophorum

    OpenAIRE

    A. Niartiningsih; Magdalena Litaay; Niradhyna W. M

    2015-01-01

    The aim of this study was to know the survival and growth of the giant clam larvae given zooxanthellae from different host. The field experiment was conducted from September ???November 2006 at hatchery of Marine Field Station Barrang Lompo Island, Makassar. Zooxanthellae hosts used were: (A) Table coral (Acropora valenciennesi); (B) Tridacna crocea, (C) soft coral (Sarcophyton trocheliophorum) and (D) control (no additional zooxanthellae). The Complete Randomized Design with four treatments ...

  5. Decapod crustaceans inhabiting live and dead colonies of three species of Acropora in the Roques Archipelago, Venezuela

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Grajal, P. Alejandro; Laughlin, G. Roger

    1984-01-01

    A systematic account is given of the decapod crustaceans found in live and dead colonies of three species of the scleractinian coral Acropora (A. cervicornis, A. palmata, A. prolifera), collected during a 9 month period in a shallow reef flat in the southwestern portion of the Archipelago Los

  6. Are coral reefs victims of their own past success?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Renema, Willem; Pandolfi, John M; Kiessling, Wolfgang; Bosellini, Francesca R; Klaus, James S; Korpanty, Chelsea; Rosen, Brian R; Santodomingo, Nadiezhda; Wallace, Carden C; Webster, Jody M; Johnson, Kenneth G

    2016-04-01

    As one of the most prolific and widespread reef builders, the staghorn coral Acropora holds a disproportionately large role in how coral reefs will respond to accelerating anthropogenic change. We show that although Acropora has a diverse history extended over the past 50 million years, it was not a dominant reef builder until the onset of high-amplitude glacioeustatic sea-level fluctuations 1.8 million years ago. High growth rates and propagation by fragmentation have favored staghorn corals since this time. In contrast, staghorn corals are among the most vulnerable corals to anthropogenic stressors, with marked global loss of abundance worldwide. The continued decline in staghorn coral abundance and the mounting challenges from both local stress and climate change will limit the coral reefs' ability to provide ecosystem services.

  7. Location-specific responses to thermal stress in larvae of the reef-building coral Montastraea faveolata.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nicholas R Polato

    2010-06-01

    Full Text Available The potential to adapt to a changing climate depends in part upon the standing genetic variation present in wild populations. In corals, the dispersive larval phase is particularly vulnerable to the effects of environmental stress. Larval survival and response to stress during dispersal and settlement will play a key role in the persistence of coral populations.To test the hypothesis that larval transcription profiles reflect location-specific responses to thermal stress, symbiont-free gametes from three to four colonies of the scleractinian coral Montastraea faveolata were collected from Florida and Mexico, fertilized, and raised under mean and elevated (up 1 to 2 degrees C above summer mean temperatures. These locations have been shown to exchange larvae frequently enough to prevent significant differentiation of neutral loci. Differences among 1,310 unigenes were simultaneously characterized using custom cDNA microarrays, allowing investigation of gene expression patterns among larvae generated from wild populations under stress. Results show both conserved and location-specific variation in key processes including apoptosis, cell structuring, adhesion and development, energy and protein metabolism, and response to stress, in embryos of a reef-building coral.These results provide first insights into location-specific variation in gene expression in the face of gene flow, and support the hypothesis that coral host genomes may house adaptive potential needed to deal with changing environmental conditions.

  8. The Impacts of Ex Situ Transplantation on the Physiology of the Taiwanese Reef-Building Coral Seriatopora hystrix

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Anderson B. Mayfield

    2013-01-01

    Full Text Available We sought to determine whether the Indo-Pacific reef-building coral Seriatopora hystrix performs in a similar manner in the laboratory as it does in situ by measuring Symbiodinium density, chlorophyll a (chl-a concentration, and the maximum quantum yield of photosystem II (FV/FM at the time of field sampling (in situ, as well as after three weeks of acclimation and one week of experimentation (ex situ. Symbiodinium density was similar between corals of the two study sites, Houbihu (an upwelling reef and Houwan (a nonupwelling reef, and also remained at similar levels ex situ as in situ. On the other hand, both areal and cell-specific chl-a concentrations approximately doubled ex situ relative to in situ, an increase that may be due to having employed a light regime that differed from that experienced by these corals on the reefs of southern Taiwan from which they were collected. As this change in Symbiodinium chl-a content was documented in corals of both sites, the experiment itself was not biased by this difference. Furthermore, FV/FM increased by only 1% ex situ relative to in situ, indicating that the corals maintained a similar level of photosynthetic performance as displayed in situ even after one month in captivity.

  9. SYMBIODINIUM ISOLATES FROM STONY CORAL: ISOLATION, GROWTH CHARACTERISTICS AND EFFECTS OF UV IRRADIATION

    Science.gov (United States)

    Symbiodinium spp. Isolates from Stony Coral: Isolation, Growth Characteristics and Effects of UV Irradiation (Abstract). J. Phycol. 37(3):42-43.Symbiodinium species were isolated from Montipora capitata, Acropora palmata and two field samples of Porites porites. Cultures ...

  10. Skeletal light-scattering accelerates bleaching response in reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Swain, Timothy D; DuBois, Emily; Gomes, Andrew; Stoyneva, Valentina P; Radosevich, Andrew J; Henss, Jillian; Wagner, Michelle E; Derbas, Justin; Grooms, Hannah W; Velazquez, Elizabeth M; Traub, Joshua; Kennedy, Brian J; Grigorescu, Arabela A; Westneat, Mark W; Sanborn, Kevin; Levine, Shoshana; Schick, Mark; Parsons, George; Biggs, Brendan C; Rogers, Jeremy D; Backman, Vadim; Marcelino, Luisa A

    2016-03-21

    At the forefront of ecosystems adversely affected by climate change, coral reefs are sensitive to anomalously high temperatures which disassociate (bleaching) photosynthetic symbionts (Symbiodinium) from coral hosts and cause increasingly frequent and severe mass mortality events. Susceptibility to bleaching and mortality is variable among corals, and is determined by unknown proportions of environmental history and the synergy of Symbiodinium- and coral-specific properties. Symbiodinium live within host tissues overlaying the coral skeleton, which increases light availability through multiple light-scattering, forming one of the most efficient biological collectors of solar radiation. Light-transport in the upper ~200 μm layer of corals skeletons (measured as 'microscopic' reduced-scattering coefficient, μ'(S,m)), has been identified as a determinant of excess light increase during bleaching and is therefore a potential determinant of the differential rate and severity of bleaching response among coral species. Here we experimentally demonstrate (in ten coral species) that, under thermal stress alone or combined thermal and light stress, low-μ'(S,m) corals bleach at higher rate and severity than high-μ'(S,m) corals and the Symbiodinium associated with low-μ'(S,m) corals experience twice the decrease in photochemical efficiency. We further modelled the light absorbed by Symbiodinium due to skeletal-scattering and show that the estimated skeleton-dependent light absorbed by Symbiodinium (per unit of photosynthetic pigment) and the temporal rate of increase in absorbed light during bleaching are several fold higher in low-μ'(S,m) corals. While symbionts associated with low-[Formula: see text] corals receive less total light from the skeleton, they experience a higher rate of light increase once bleaching is initiated and absorbing bodies are lost; further precipitating the bleaching response. Because microscopic skeletal light-scattering is a robust predictor

  11. Coral lipids and environmental stress.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harriott, V J

    1993-04-01

    Environmental monitoring of coral reefs is presently limited by difficulties in recognising coral stress, other than by monitoring coral mortality over time. A recent report described an experiment demonstrating that a measured lipid index declined in shaded corals. The technique described might have application in monitoring coral health, with a decline in coral lipid index as an indicator of coral stress. The application of the technique as a practical monitoring tool was tested for two coral species from the Great Barrier Reef. Consistent with the previous results, lipid index for Pocillopora damicornis initially declined over a period of three weeks in corals maintained in filtered seawater in the dark, indicating possible utilization of lipid stored as energy reserves. However, lipid index subsequently rose to near normal levels. In contrast, lipid index of Acropora formosa increased after four weeks in the dark in filtered seawater. The results showed considerable variability in lipid content between samples from the same colony. Results were also found to be dependent on fixation times and sample weight, introducing potential error into the practical application of the technique. The method as described would be unsuitable for monitoring environmental stress in corals, but the search for a practical method to monitor coral health should continue, given its importance in coral reef management.

  12. Crowning corals

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Raghukumar, C.

    and build-awareness about the rich, diverse biological resources is warranted and a plea is made to manage the sewage, oil and thermal pollution to help preserve the biodiversity of coral and associated flora and fauna....

  13. Dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP as an Indicator of Bleaching Tolerance in Scleractinian Corals

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Graham B. Jones

    2015-06-01

    Full Text Available Thermal tolerance tests on Acropora millepora, a common Indo-Pacific hard coral, have shown that adult corals can acquire increased thermal tolerance by shuffling existing type C to type D Symbiodinium zooxanthellae when subjected to increased seawater temperatures. We report here dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP concentrations in A. millepora and examine links between DMSP concentrations, zooxanthellae clade, and bleaching tolerance. DMSP analysis on native and transplanted corals from three locations in the Great Barrier Reef indicated that the lower thermal tolerance in type C zooxanthellae coincided with variable DMSP concentrations, whilst the more thermal tolerant type D zooxanthellae had more stable areal DMSP concentrations as seawater temperatures increased. Our results suggest this increased thermal tolerance in type D zooxanthellae may reflect the ability of these coral symbionts to conserve their antioxidant DMSP levels to relatively constant concentrations, enabling the coral to overcome the build-up of oxygen free radicals in the cytoplasm of A. millepora. A conceptual diagram illustrates how the antioxidants DMS (P participate in the bleaching process by scavenging oxygen free radicals and form DMSO, thus moderating coral bleaching and increasing thermotolerance.

  14. Water quality and herbivory interactively drive coral-reef recovery patterns in American Samoa.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Peter Houk

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Compared with a wealth of information regarding coral-reef recovery patterns following major disturbances, less insight exists to explain the cause(s of spatial variation in the recovery process. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: This study quantifies the influence of herbivory and water quality upon coral reef assemblages through space and time in Tutuila, American Samoa, a Pacific high island. Widespread declines in dominant corals (Acropora and Montipora resulted from cyclone Heta at the end of 2003, shortly after the study began. Four sites that initially had similar coral reef assemblages but differential temporal dynamics four years following the disturbance event were classified by standardized measures of 'recovery status', defined by rates of change in ecological measures that are known to be sensitive to localized stressors. Status was best predicted, interactively, by water quality and herbivory. Expanding upon temporal trends, this study examined if similar dependencies existed through space; building multiple regression models to identify linkages between similar status measures and local stressors for 17 localities around Tutuila. The results highlighted consistent, interactive interdependencies for coral reef assemblages residing upon two unique geological reef types. Finally, the predictive regression models produced at the island scale were graphically interpreted with respect to hypothesized site-specific recovery thresholds. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Cumulatively, our study purports that moving away from describing relatively well-known patterns behind recovery, and focusing upon understanding causes, improves our foundation to predict future ecological dynamics, and thus improves coral reef management.

  15. Symbiodinium transcriptomes: genome insights into the dinoflagellate symbionts of reef-building corals.

    KAUST Repository

    Bayer, Till

    2012-04-18

    Dinoflagellates are unicellular algae that are ubiquitously abundant in aquatic environments. Species of the genus Symbiodinium form symbiotic relationships with reef-building corals and other marine invertebrates. Despite their ecologic importance, little is known about the genetics of dinoflagellates in general and Symbiodinium in particular. Here, we used 454 sequencing to generate transcriptome data from two Symbiodinium species from different clades (clade A and clade B). With more than 56,000 assembled sequences per species, these data represent the largest transcriptomic resource for dinoflagellates to date. Our results corroborate previous observations that dinoflagellates possess the complete nucleosome machinery. We found a complete set of core histones as well as several H3 variants and H2A.Z in one species. Furthermore, transcriptome analysis points toward a low number of transcription factors in Symbiodinium spp. that also differ in the distribution of DNA-binding domains relative to other eukaryotes. In particular the cold shock domain was predominant among transcription factors. Additionally, we found a high number of antioxidative genes in comparison to non-symbiotic but evolutionary related organisms. These findings might be of relevance in the context of the role that Symbiodinium spp. play as coral symbionts.Our data represent the most comprehensive dinoflagellate EST data set to date. This study provides a comprehensive resource to further analyze the genetic makeup, metabolic capacities, and gene repertoire of Symbiodinium and dinoflagellates. Overall, our findings indicate that Symbiodinium possesses some unique characteristics, in particular the transcriptional regulation in Symbiodinium may differ from the currently known mechanisms of eukaryotic gene regulation.

  16. Shared skeletal support in a coral-hydroid symbiosis.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Olga Pantos

    Full Text Available Hydroids form symbiotic relationships with a range of invertebrate hosts. Where they live with colonial invertebrates such as corals or bryozoans the hydroids may benefit from the physical support and protection of their host's hard exoskeleton, but how they interact with them is unknown. Electron microscopy was used to investigate the physical interactions between the colonial hydroid Zanclea margaritae and its reef-building coral host Acropora muricata. The hydroid tissues extend below the coral tissue surface sitting in direct contact with the host's skeleton. Although this arrangement provides the hydroid with protective support, it also presents problems of potential interference with the coral's growth processes and exposes the hydroid to overgrowth and smothering. Desmocytes located within the epidermal layer of the hydroid's perisarc-free hydrorhizae fasten it to the coral skeleton. The large apical surface area of the desmocyte and high bifurcation of the distal end within the mesoglea, as well as the clustering of desmocytes suggests that a very strong attachment between the hydroid and the coral skeleton. This is the first study to provide a detailed description of how symbiotic hydroids attach to their host's skeleton, utilising it for physical support. Results suggest that the loss of perisarc, a characteristic commonly associated with symbiosis, allows the hydroid to utilise desmocytes for attachment. The use of these anchoring structures provides a dynamic method of attachment, facilitating detachment from the coral skeleton during extension, thereby avoiding overgrowth and smothering enabling the hydroid to remain within the host colony for prolonged periods of time.

  17. Coral Reef Coverage Percentage on Binor Paiton-Probolinggo Seashore

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Dwi Budi Wiyanto

    2016-01-01

    Full Text Available The coral reef damage in Probolinggo region was expected to be caused by several factors. The first one comes from its society that exploits fishery by using cyanide toxin and bomb. The second one goes to the extraction of coral reef, which is used as decoration or construction materials. The other factor is likely caused by the existence of large industry on the seashore, such as Electric Steam Power Plant (PLTU Paiton and others alike. Related to the development of coral reef ecosystem, availability of an accurate data is crucially needed to support the manner of future policy, so the research of coral reef coverage percentage needs to be conducted continuously. The aim of this research is to collect biological data of coral reef and to identify coral reef coverage percentage in the effort of constructing coral reef condition basic data on Binor, Paiton, and Probolinggo regency seashore. The method used in this research is Line Intercept Transect (LIT method. LIT method is a method that used to decide benthic community on coral reef based on percentage growth, and to take note of benthic quantity along transect line. Percentage of living coral coverage in 3 meters depth on this Binor Paiton seashore that may be categorized in a good condition is 57,65%. While the rest are dead coral that is only 1,45%, other life form in 23,2%, and non-life form in 17,7%. A good condition of coral reef is caused by coral reef transplantation on the seashore, so this coral reef is dominated by Acropora Branching. On the other hand, Mortality Index (IM of coral reef resulted in 24,5%. The result from observation and calculation of coral reef is dominated by Hard Coral in Acropora Branching (ACB with coral reef coverage percentage of 39%, Coral Massive (CM with coral reef coverage percentage of 2,85%, Coral Foliose (CF with coral reef coverage percentage of 1,6%, and Coral Mushroom (CRM with coral reef coverage percentage of 8,5%. Observation in 10 meters depth

  18. Coral Reef Coverage Percentage on Binor Paiton-Probolinggo Seashore

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Dwi Budi Wiyanto

    2016-02-01

    Full Text Available The coral reef damage in Probolinggo region was expected to be caused by several factors. The first one comes from its society that exploits fishery by using cyanide toxin and bomb. The second one goes to the extraction of coral reef, which is used as decoration or construction materials. The other factor is likely caused by the existence of large industry on the seashore, such as Electric Steam Power Plant (PLTU Paiton and others alike. Related to the development of coral reef ecosystem, availability of an accurate data is crucially needed to support the manner of future policy, so the research of coral reef coverage percentage needs to be conducted continuously. The aim of this research is to collect biological data of coral reef and to identify coral reef coverage percentage in the effort of constructing coral reef condition basic data on Binor, Paiton, and Probolinggo regency seashore. The method used in this research is Line Intercept Transect (LIT method. LIT method is a method that used to decide benthic community on coral reef based on percentage growth, and to take note of benthic quantity along transect line. Percentage of living coral coverage in 3 meters depth on this Binor Paiton seashore that may be categorized in a good condition is 57,65%. While the rest are dead coral that is only 1,45%, other life form in 23,2%, and non-life form in 17,7%. A good condition of coral reef is caused by coral reef transplantation on the seashore, so this coral reef is dominated by Acropora Branching. On the other hand, Mortality Index (IM of coral reef resulted in 24,5%. The result from observation and calculation of coral reef is dominated by Hard Coral in Acropora Branching (ACB with coral reef coverage percentage of 39%, Coral Massive (CM with coral reef coverage percentage of 2,85%, Coral Foliose (CF with coral reef coverage percentage of 1,6%, and Coral Mushroom (CRM with coral reef coverage percentage of 8,5%. Observation in 10 meters depth

  19. Potential Habitat of Acropora spp. on Reefs of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Katherine E. Wirt

    2015-01-01

    Full Text Available Elkhorn and staghorn corals (Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis were listed in 2006 as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The goal of this study was to create model potential-habitat maps for A. palmata and A. cervicornis, while identifying areas for possible re-establishment. These maps were created using a database of reported field observations in combination with existing benthic habitat maps. The mapped coral reef and hardbottom classifications throughout Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Island reef tracts were used to generate potential-habitat polygons using buffers that incorporated 95% and 99% of reported observations of Acropora spp. Locations of 92% of A. palmata observations and 84% of A. cervicornis observations coincided with mapped coral reef or hard-bottom habitat throughout the study area. These results indicate that potential habitat for A. palmata is currently well defined throughout this region, but that potential habitat for A. cervicornis is more variable and has a wider range than that for A. palmata. This study provides a novel method of combining data sets at various geographic spatial scales and may be used to inform and refine the current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration critical habitat map.

  20. Coral Reef Genomics: Developing tools for functional genomics ofcoral symbiosis

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Schwarz, Jodi; Brokstein, Peter; Manohar, Chitra; Coffroth, MaryAlice; Szmant, Alina; Medina, Monica

    2005-03-01

    Symbioses between cnidarians and dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium are widespread in the marine environment. The importance of this symbiosis to reef-building corals and reef nutrient and carbon cycles is well documented, but little is known about the mechanisms by which the partners establish and regulate the symbiosis. Because the dinoflagellate symbionts live inside the cells of their host coral, the interactions between the partners occur on cellular and molecular levels, as each partner alters the expression of genes and proteins to facilitate the partnership. These interactions can examined using high-throughput techniques that allow thousands of genes to be examined simultaneously. We are developing the groundwork so that we can use DNA microarray profiling to identify genes involved in the Montastraea faveolata and Acropora palmata symbioses. Here we report results from the initial steps in this microarray initiative, that is, the construction of cDNA libraries from 4 of 16 target stages, sequencing of 3450 cDNA clones to generate Expressed Sequenced Tags (ESTs), and annotation of the ESTs to identify candidate genes to include in the microarrays. An understanding of how the coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis is regulated will have implications for atmospheric and ocean sciences, conservation biology, the study and diagnosis of coral bleaching and disease, and comparative studies of animal-protest interactions.

  1. Microbial composition of biofilms associated with lithifying rubble of Acropora palmata branches.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Beltrán, Yislem; Cerqueda-García, Daniel; Taş, Neslihan; Thomé, Patricia E; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto; Falcón, Luisa I

    2016-01-01

    Coral reefs are among the most productive ecosystems on the planet, but are rapidly declining due to global-warming-mediated changes in the oceans. Particularly for the Caribbean region, Acropora sp. stony corals have lost ∼80% of their original coverage, resulting in vast extensions of dead coral rubble. We analyzed the microbial composition of biofilms that colonize and lithify dead Acropora palmata rubble in the Mexican Caribbean and identified the microbial assemblages that can persist under scenarios of global change, including high temperature and low pH. Lithifying biofilms have a mineral composition that includes aragonite and magnesium calcite (16 mole% MgCO(3)) and calcite, while the mineral phase corresponding to coral skeleton is basically aragonite. Microbial composition of the lithifying biofilms are different in comparison to surrounding biotopes, including a microbial mat, water column, sediments and live A. palmata microbiome. Significant shifts in biofilm composition were detected in samples incubated in mesocosms. The combined effect of low pH and increased temperature showed a strong effect after two-week incubations for biofilm composition. Findings suggest that lithifying biofilms could remain as a secondary structure on reef rubble possibly impacting the functional role of coral reefs. © FEMS 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

  2. Temporal variations in metabolic and autotrophic indices for Acropora digitifera and Acropora spicifera--implications for monitoring projects.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Saskia Hinrichs

    Full Text Available Coral health indices are important components of the management assessments of coral reefs, providing insight into local variation in reef condition, as well as tools for comparisons between reefs and across various time scales. Understanding how such health indices vary in space and time is critical to their successful implementation as management tools. Here we compare autotrophic and heterotrophic coral health indices, examining specifically the temporal variation driven by the local environmental variation, at three scales (diel, daily and seasonal. We compared metabolic indices (RNA/DNA ratio, protein concentration and autotrophic indices (Chlorophyll a (Chl a, zooxanthellae density, effective quantum yield (yield and relative electron transport rate (rETR for two dominant Acropora species, A. digitifera and A. spicifera at Ningaloo Reef (north-western Australia in August 2010 (austral winter and February 2011 (austral summer. Clear seasonal patterns were documented for metabolic indices, zooxanthellae density and rETR, while cyclic diel patterns only occurred for yield and rETR, and RNA/DNA ratio. Significant daily variation was observed for RNA/DNA ratio, Chl a concentration, yield and rETR. Results suggest that zooxanthellae density and protein concentrations are good long-term indicators of coral health whose variance is largely seasonal, while RNA/DNA ratio and rETR can be used for both long-term (seasonal and short-term (diel coral monitoring. Chl a can be used to describe changes between days and yield for both diel and daily variations. Correlations between health indices and light history showed that short-term changes in irradiance had the strongest impact on all health indices except zooxanthellae density for A. digitifera; for A. spicifera no correlation was observed at all. However, cumulative irradiance over the several days before sampling showed significant correlations with most health indices suggesting that a time

  3. Temporal variations in metabolic and autotrophic indices for Acropora digitifera and Acropora spicifera--implications for monitoring projects.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hinrichs, Saskia; Patten, Nicole L; Waite, Anya M

    2013-01-01

    Coral health indices are important components of the management assessments of coral reefs, providing insight into local variation in reef condition, as well as tools for comparisons between reefs and across various time scales. Understanding how such health indices vary in space and time is critical to their successful implementation as management tools. Here we compare autotrophic and heterotrophic coral health indices, examining specifically the temporal variation driven by the local environmental variation, at three scales (diel, daily and seasonal). We compared metabolic indices (RNA/DNA ratio, protein concentration) and autotrophic indices (Chlorophyll a (Chl a), zooxanthellae density, effective quantum yield (yield) and relative electron transport rate (rETR)) for two dominant Acropora species, A. digitifera and A. spicifera at Ningaloo Reef (north-western Australia) in August 2010 (austral winter) and February 2011 (austral summer). Clear seasonal patterns were documented for metabolic indices, zooxanthellae density and rETR, while cyclic diel patterns only occurred for yield and rETR, and RNA/DNA ratio. Significant daily variation was observed for RNA/DNA ratio, Chl a concentration, yield and rETR. Results suggest that zooxanthellae density and protein concentrations are good long-term indicators of coral health whose variance is largely seasonal, while RNA/DNA ratio and rETR can be used for both long-term (seasonal) and short-term (diel) coral monitoring. Chl a can be used to describe changes between days and yield for both diel and daily variations. Correlations between health indices and light history showed that short-term changes in irradiance had the strongest impact on all health indices except zooxanthellae density for A. digitifera; for A. spicifera no correlation was observed at all. However, cumulative irradiance over the several days before sampling showed significant correlations with most health indices suggesting that a time-lag effect has

  4. Temporal Variations in Metabolic and Autotrophic Indices for Acropora digitifera and Acropora spicifera – Implications for Monitoring Projects

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hinrichs, Saskia; Patten, Nicole L.; Waite, Anya M.

    2013-01-01

    Coral health indices are important components of the management assessments of coral reefs, providing insight into local variation in reef condition, as well as tools for comparisons between reefs and across various time scales. Understanding how such health indices vary in space and time is critical to their successful implementation as management tools. Here we compare autotrophic and heterotrophic coral health indices, examining specifically the temporal variation driven by the local environmental variation, at three scales (diel, daily and seasonal). We compared metabolic indices (RNA/DNA ratio, protein concentration) and autotrophic indices (Chlorophyll a (Chl a), zooxanthellae density, effective quantum yield (yield) and relative electron transport rate (rETR)) for two dominant Acropora species, A. digitifera and A. spicifera at Ningaloo Reef (north-western Australia) in August 2010 (austral winter) and February 2011 (austral summer). Clear seasonal patterns were documented for metabolic indices, zooxanthellae density and rETR, while cyclic diel patterns only occurred for yield and rETR, and RNA/DNA ratio. Significant daily variation was observed for RNA/DNA ratio, Chl a concentration, yield and rETR. Results suggest that zooxanthellae density and protein concentrations are good long-term indicators of coral health whose variance is largely seasonal, while RNA/DNA ratio and rETR can be used for both long-term (seasonal) and short-term (diel) coral monitoring. Chl a can be used to describe changes between days and yield for both diel and daily variations. Correlations between health indices and light history showed that short-term changes in irradiance had the strongest impact on all health indices except zooxanthellae density for A. digitifera; for A. spicifera no correlation was observed at all. However, cumulative irradiance over the several days before sampling showed significant correlations with most health indices suggesting that a time-lag effect has

  5. Coral reproduction in Western Australia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Speed, Conrad W.; Babcock, Russ

    2016-01-01

    Larval production and recruitment underpin the maintenance of coral populations, but these early life history stages are vulnerable to extreme variation in physical conditions. Environmental managers aim to minimise human impacts during significant periods of larval production and recruitment on reefs, but doing so requires knowledge of the modes and timing of coral reproduction. Most corals are hermaphroditic or gonochoric, with a brooding or broadcast spawning mode of reproduction. Brooding corals are a significant component of some reefs and produce larvae over consecutive months. Broadcast spawning corals are more common and display considerable variation in their patterns of spawning among reefs. Highly synchronous spawning can occur on reefs around Australia, particularly on the Great Barrier Reef. On Australia’s remote north-west coast there have been fewer studies of coral reproduction. The recent industrial expansion into these regions has facilitated research, but the associated data are often contained within confidential reports. Here we combine information in this grey-literature with that available publicly to update our knowledge of coral reproduction in WA, for tens of thousands of corals and hundreds of species from over a dozen reefs spanning 20° of latitude. We identified broad patterns in coral reproduction, but more detailed insights were hindered by biased sampling; most studies focused on species of Acropora sampled over a few months at several reefs. Within the existing data, there was a latitudinal gradient in spawning activity among seasons, with mass spawning during autumn occurring on all reefs (but the temperate south-west). Participation in a smaller, multi-specific spawning during spring decreased from approximately one quarter of corals on the Kimberley Oceanic reefs to little participation at Ningaloo. Within these seasons, spawning was concentrated in March and/or April, and October and/or November, depending on the timing of

  6. No gene flow across the Eastern Pacific Barrier in the reef-building coral Porites lobata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baums, Iliana B; Boulay, Jennifer N; Polato, Nicholas R; Hellberg, Michael E

    2012-11-01

    The expanse of deep water between the central Pacific islands and the continental shelf of the Eastern Tropical Pacific is regarded as the world's most potent marine biogeographic barrier. During recurrent climatic fluctuations (ENSO, El Niño Southern Oscillation), however, changes in water temperature and the speed and direction of currents become favourable for trans-oceanic dispersal of larvae from central Pacific to marginal eastern Pacific reefs. Here, we investigate the population connectivity of the reef-building coral Porites lobata across the Eastern Pacific Barrier (EPB). Patterns of recent gene flow in samples (n = 1173) from the central Pacific and the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) were analysed with 12 microsatellite loci. Results indicated that P. lobata from the ETP are strongly isolated from those in the central Pacific and Hawaii (F(ct) ' = 0.509; P Clipperton Atoll, an oceanic island on the eastern side of the EPB, grouped with the central Pacific. Within the central Pacific, Hawaiian populations were strongly isolated from three co-occurring clusters found throughout the remainder of the central Pacific. No further substructure was evident in the ETP. Changes in oceanographic conditions during ENSO over the past several thousand years thus appear insufficient to support larval deliveries from the central Pacific to the ETP or strong postsettlement selection acts on ETP settlers from the central Pacific. Recovery of P. lobata populations in the frequently disturbed ETP thus must depend on local larval sources. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

  7. Assessment of Acropora palmata in the Mesoamerican Reef System

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rodríguez-Martínez, Rosa E.; Banaszak, Anastazia T.; McField, Melanie D.; Beltrán-Torres, Aurora U.; Álvarez-Filip, Lorenzo

    2014-01-01

    The once-dominant shallow reef-building coral Acropora palmata has suffered drastic geographical declines in the wider Caribbean from a disease epidemic that began in the late 1970s. At present there is a lack of quantitative data to determine whether this species is recovering over large spatial scales. Here, we use quantitative surveys conducted in 107 shallow-water reef sites between 2010 and 2012 to investigate the current distribution and abundance of A. palmata along the Mesoamerican Reef System (MRS). Using historical data we also explored how the distribution and abundance of this species has changed in the northern portion of the MRS between 1985 and 2010–2012. A. palmata was recorded in only a fifth of the surveyed reef sites in 2010–2012. In the majority of these reef sites the presence of A. palmata was patchy and rare. Only one site (Limones reef), in the northernmost portion of the MRS, presented considerably high A. palmata cover (mean: 34.7%, SD: 24.5%). At this site, the size-frequency distribution of A. palmata colonies was skewed towards small colony sizes; 84% of the colonies were healthy, however disease prevalence increased with colony size. A comparison with historical data showed that in the northern portion of the MRS, in 1985, A. palmata occurred in 74% of the 31 surveyed sites and had a mean cover of 7.7% (SD = 9.0), whereas in 2010–2012 this species was recorded in 48% of the sites with a mean cover of 2.9% (SD = 7.5). A. palmata populations along the MRS are failing to recover the distribution and abundance they had prior to the 1980s. Investigating the biological (e.g., population genetics) and environmental conditions (e.g., sources of stress) of the few standing reefs with relatively high A. palmata cover is crucial for the development of informed restoration models for this species. PMID:24763319

  8. Assessment of Acropora palmata in the Mesoamerican Reef System.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Rosa E Rodríguez-Martínez

    Full Text Available The once-dominant shallow reef-building coral Acropora palmata has suffered drastic geographical declines in the wider Caribbean from a disease epidemic that began in the late 1970s. At present there is a lack of quantitative data to determine whether this species is recovering over large spatial scales. Here, we use quantitative surveys conducted in 107 shallow-water reef sites between 2010 and 2012 to investigate the current distribution and abundance of A. palmata along the Mesoamerican Reef System (MRS. Using historical data we also explored how the distribution and abundance of this species has changed in the northern portion of the MRS between 1985 and 2010-2012. A. palmata was recorded in only a fifth of the surveyed reef sites in 2010-2012. In the majority of these reef sites the presence of A. palmata was patchy and rare. Only one site (Limones reef, in the northernmost portion of the MRS, presented considerably high A. palmata cover (mean: 34.7%, SD: 24.5%. At this site, the size-frequency distribution of A. palmata colonies was skewed towards small colony sizes; 84% of the colonies were healthy, however disease prevalence increased with colony size. A comparison with historical data showed that in the northern portion of the MRS, in 1985, A. palmata occurred in 74% of the 31 surveyed sites and had a mean cover of 7.7% (SD = 9.0, whereas in 2010-2012 this species was recorded in 48% of the sites with a mean cover of 2.9% (SD = 7.5. A. palmata populations along the MRS are failing to recover the distribution and abundance they had prior to the 1980s. Investigating the biological (e.g., population genetics and environmental conditions (e.g., sources of stress of the few standing reefs with relatively high A. palmata cover is crucial for the development of informed restoration models for this species.

  9. Specializing on vulnerable habitat: Acropora selectivity among damselfish recruits and the risk of bleaching-induced habitat loss

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bonin, M. C.

    2012-03-01

    Coral reef habitats are increasingly being degraded and destroyed by a range of disturbances, most notably climate-induced coral bleaching. Habitat specialists, particularly those associated with susceptible coral species, are clearly among the most vulnerable to population decline or extinction. However, the degree of specialization on coral microhabitats is still unclear for one of the most ubiquitous, abundant and well studied of coral reef fish families—the damselfishes (Pomacentridae). Using high taxonomic resolution surveys of microhabitat use and availability, this study provides the first species-level description of patterns of Acropora selectivity among recruits of 10 damselfish species in order to determine their vulnerability to habitat degradation. In addition, surveys of the bleaching susceptibility of 16 branching coral species revealed which preferred recruitment microhabitats are at highest risk of decline as a result of chronic coral bleaching. Four species (i.e., Chrysiptera parasema, Pomacentrus moluccensis, Dascyllus melanurus and Chromis retrofasciata) were identified as highly vulnerable because they used only branching hard corals as recruitment habitat and primarily associated with only 2-4 coral species. The bleaching surveys revealed that five species of Acropora were highly susceptible to bleaching, with more than 50% of colonies either severely bleached or already dead. These highly susceptible corals included two of the preferred microhabitats of the specialist C. parasema and represented a significant proportion of its total recruitment microhabitat. In contrast, highly susceptible corals were rarely used by another specialist, P. moluccensis, suggesting that this species faces a lower risk of bleaching-induced habitat loss compared to C. parasema. As degradation to coral reef habitats continues, specialists will increasingly be forced to use alternative recruitment microhabitats, and this is likely to reduce population

  10. Recent disturbances augment community shifts in coral assemblages in Moorea, French Polynesia

    KAUST Repository

    Pratchett, Morgan S.; Trapon, Melanie L.; Berumen, Michael L.; Chong-Seng, Karen M.

    2010-01-01

    Coral reefs are often subject to disturbances that can cause enduring changes in community structure and abundance of coral reef organisms. In Moorea, French Polynesia, frequent disturbances between 1979 and 2003 caused marked shifts in taxonomic composition of coral assemblages. This study explores recent changes in live cover and taxonomic structure of coral communities on the north coast of Moorea, French Polynesia, to assess whether coral assemblages are recovering (returning to a previous Acropora-dominated state) or continuing to move towards an alternative community structure. Coral cover declined by 29.7% between July 2003 and March 2009, mostly due to loss of Acropora and Montipora spp. Coral mortality varied among habitats, with highest levels of coral loss on the outer reef slope (7-20 m depth). In contrast, there was limited change in coral cover within the lagoon, and coral cover actually increased on the reef crest. Observed changes in coral cover and composition correspond closely with the known feeding preferences and observed spatial patterns of Acanthaster planci L., though observed coral loss also coincided with at least one episode of coral bleaching, as well as persistent populations of the corallivorous starfish Culcita novaeguineae Muller & Troschel. While climate change poses an important and significant threat to the future structure and dynamics coral reef communities, outbreaks of A. planci remain a significant cause of coral loss in Moorea. More importantly, these recent disturbances have followed long-term shifts in the structure of coral assemblages, and the relative abundance of both Pocillopora and Porites continue to increase due to disproportionate losses of Acropora and Montipora. Moreover, Pocillopora and Porites dominate assemblages of juvenile corals, suggesting that there is limited potential for a return to an Acropora-dominated state, last recorded in 1979. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

  11. Recent disturbances augment community shifts in coral assemblages in Moorea, French Polynesia

    KAUST Repository

    Pratchett, Morgan S.

    2010-09-19

    Coral reefs are often subject to disturbances that can cause enduring changes in community structure and abundance of coral reef organisms. In Moorea, French Polynesia, frequent disturbances between 1979 and 2003 caused marked shifts in taxonomic composition of coral assemblages. This study explores recent changes in live cover and taxonomic structure of coral communities on the north coast of Moorea, French Polynesia, to assess whether coral assemblages are recovering (returning to a previous Acropora-dominated state) or continuing to move towards an alternative community structure. Coral cover declined by 29.7% between July 2003 and March 2009, mostly due to loss of Acropora and Montipora spp. Coral mortality varied among habitats, with highest levels of coral loss on the outer reef slope (7-20 m depth). In contrast, there was limited change in coral cover within the lagoon, and coral cover actually increased on the reef crest. Observed changes in coral cover and composition correspond closely with the known feeding preferences and observed spatial patterns of Acanthaster planci L., though observed coral loss also coincided with at least one episode of coral bleaching, as well as persistent populations of the corallivorous starfish Culcita novaeguineae Muller & Troschel. While climate change poses an important and significant threat to the future structure and dynamics coral reef communities, outbreaks of A. planci remain a significant cause of coral loss in Moorea. More importantly, these recent disturbances have followed long-term shifts in the structure of coral assemblages, and the relative abundance of both Pocillopora and Porites continue to increase due to disproportionate losses of Acropora and Montipora. Moreover, Pocillopora and Porites dominate assemblages of juvenile corals, suggesting that there is limited potential for a return to an Acropora-dominated state, last recorded in 1979. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

  12. Screening by coral green fluorescent protein (GFP)-like chromoproteins supports a role in photoprotection of zooxanthellae

    Science.gov (United States)

    Smith, E. G.; D'Angelo, C.; Salih, A.; Wiedenmann, J.

    2013-06-01

    Green fluorescent protein (GFP)-like pigments are responsible for the vivid colouration of many reef-building corals and have been proposed to act as photoprotectants. Their role remains controversial because the functional mechanism has not been elucidated. We provide direct evidence to support a photoprotective role of the non-fluorescent chromoproteins (CPs) that form a biochemically and photophysically distinct group of GFP-like proteins. Based on observations of Acropora nobilis from the Great Barrier Reef, we explored the photoprotective role of CPs by analysing five coral species under controlled conditions. In vitro and in hospite analyses of chlorophyll excitation demonstrate that screening by CPs leads to a reduction in chlorophyll excitation corresponding to the spectral properties of the specific CPs present in the coral tissues. Between 562 and 586 nm, the CPs maximal absorption range, there was an up to 50 % reduction of chlorophyll excitation. The screening was consistent for established and regenerating tissue and amongst symbiont clades A, C and D. Moreover, among two differently pigmented morphs of Acropora valida grown under identical light conditions and hosting subclade type C3 symbionts, high CP expression correlated with reduced photodamage under acute light stress.

  13. Transplantation of storm-generated coral fragments to enhance Caribbean coral reefs: A successful method but not a solution

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Virginia H. Garrison

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available In response to dramatic losses of reef-building corals and ongoing lack of recovery, a small-scale coral transplant project was initiated in the Caribbean (U.S. Virgin Islands in 1999 and was followed for 12 years. The primary objectives were to (1 identify a source of coral colonies for transplantation that would not result in damage to reefs, (2 test the feasibility of transplanting storm-generated coral fragments, and (3 develop a simple, inexpensive method for transplanting fragments that could be conducted by the local community. The ultimate goal was to enhance abundance of threatened reef-building species on local reefs. Storm-produced coral fragments of two threatened reef-building species [Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis (Acroporidae] and another fast-growing species [Porites porites (Poritidae] were collected from environments hostile to coral fragment survival and transplanted to degraded reefs. Inert nylon cable ties were used to attach transplanted coral fragments to dead coral substrate. Survival of 75 reference colonies and 60 transplants was assessed over 12 years. Only 9% of colonies were alive after 12 years: no A. cervicornis; 3% of A. palmata transplants and 18% of reference colonies; and 13% of P. porites transplants and 7% of reference colonies. Mortality rates for all species were high and were similar for transplant and reference colonies. Physical dislodgement resulted in the loss of 56% of colonies, whereas 35% died in place. Only A. palmata showed a difference between transplant and reference colony survival and that was in the first year only. Location was a factor in survival only for A. palmata reference colonies and after year 10. Even though the tested methods and concepts were proven effective in the field over the 12-year study, they do not present a solution. No coral conservation strategy will be effective until underlying intrinsic and/or extrinsic factors driving high mortality rates are understood and

  14. Transplantation of storm-generated coral fragments to enhance Caribbean coral reefs: A successful method but not a solution

    Science.gov (United States)

    Garrison, Virginia H.; Ward, Greg A.

    2012-01-01

    In response to dramatic losses of reef-building corals and ongoing lack of recovery, a small-scale coral transplant project was initiated in the Caribbean (U.S. Virgin Islands) in 1999 and was followed for 12 years. The primary objectives were to (1) identify a source of coral colonies for transplantation that would not result in damage to reefs, (2) test the feasibility of transplanting storm-generated coral fragments, and (3) develop a simple, inexpensive method for transplanting fragments that could be conducted by the local community.  The ultimate goal was to enhance abundance of threatened reef-building species on local reefs.  Storm-produced coral fragments of two threatened reef-building species [Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis (Acroporidae)] and another fast-growing species [Porites porites (Poritidae)] were collected from environments hostile to coral fragment survival and transplanted to degraded reefs.  Inert nylon cable ties were used to attach transplanted coral fragments to dead coral substrate.  Survival of 75 reference colonies and 60 transplants was assessed over 12 years. Only 9% of colonies were alive after 12 years: no A. cervicornis; 3% of A. palmata transplants and 18% of reference colonies; and 13% of P. porites transplants and 7% of reference colonies. Mortality rates for all species were high and were similar for transplant and reference colonies. Physical dislodgement resulted in the loss of 56% of colonies, whereas 35% died in place.  Only A. palmata showed a difference between transplant and reference colony survival and that was in the first year only.  Location was a factor in survival only for A. palmata reference colonies and after year 10.  Even though the tested methods and concepts were proven effective in the field over the 12-year study, they do not present a solution. No coral conservation strategy will be effective until underlying intrinsic and/or extrinsic factors driving high mortality rates are

  15. Epigenome-associated phenotypic acclimatization to ocean acidification in a reef-building coral

    KAUST Repository

    Liew, Yi Jin; Zoccola, Didier; Li, Yong; Tambutté , Eric; Venn, Alexander A.; Michell, Craig; Cui, Guoxin; Deutekom, Eva S.; Kaandorp, Jaap A.; Voolstra, Christian R.; Forê t, Sylvain; Allemand, Denis; Tambutté , Sylvie; Aranda, Manuel

    2017-01-01

    Over the last century, the anthropogenic production of CO2 has led to warmer (+0.74 C) and more acidic (-0.1 pH) oceans, resulting in increasingly frequent and severe mass bleaching events worldwide that precipitate global coral reef decline. To mitigate this decline, proposals to augment the stress tolerance of corals through genetic and non-genetic means have been gaining traction. Work on model systems has shown that environmentally induced alterations in DNA methylation can lead to phenotypic acclimatization. While DNA methylation has been observed in corals, its potential role in phenotypic plasticity has not yet been described. Here, we show that, similar to findings in mice, DNA methylation significantly reduces spurious transcription in the Red Sea coral Stylophora pistillata, suggesting the evolutionary conservation of this essential mechanism in corals. Furthermore, we find that DNA methylation also reduces transcriptional noise by fine-tuning the expression of highly expressed genes. Analysis of DNA methylation patterns of corals subjected to long-term pH stress showed widespread changes in pathways regulating cell cycle and body size. Correspondingly, we found significant increases in cell and polyp sizes that resulted in more porous skeletons, supporting the maintenance of linear extension rates under conditions of reduced calcification. These findings suggest an epigenetic component in phenotypic acclimatization, providing corals with an additional mechanism to cope with climate change.

  16. Epigenome-associated phenotypic acclimatization to ocean acidification in a reef-building coral

    KAUST Repository

    Liew, Yi Jin

    2017-09-14

    Over the last century, the anthropogenic production of CO2 has led to warmer (+0.74 C) and more acidic (-0.1 pH) oceans, resulting in increasingly frequent and severe mass bleaching events worldwide that precipitate global coral reef decline. To mitigate this decline, proposals to augment the stress tolerance of corals through genetic and non-genetic means have been gaining traction. Work on model systems has shown that environmentally induced alterations in DNA methylation can lead to phenotypic acclimatization. While DNA methylation has been observed in corals, its potential role in phenotypic plasticity has not yet been described. Here, we show that, similar to findings in mice, DNA methylation significantly reduces spurious transcription in the Red Sea coral Stylophora pistillata, suggesting the evolutionary conservation of this essential mechanism in corals. Furthermore, we find that DNA methylation also reduces transcriptional noise by fine-tuning the expression of highly expressed genes. Analysis of DNA methylation patterns of corals subjected to long-term pH stress showed widespread changes in pathways regulating cell cycle and body size. Correspondingly, we found significant increases in cell and polyp sizes that resulted in more porous skeletons, supporting the maintenance of linear extension rates under conditions of reduced calcification. These findings suggest an epigenetic component in phenotypic acclimatization, providing corals with an additional mechanism to cope with climate change.

  17. Host adaptation and unexpected symbiont partners enable reef-building corals to tolerate extreme temperatures.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Howells, Emily J; Abrego, David; Meyer, Eli; Kirk, Nathan L; Burt, John A

    2016-08-01

    Understanding the potential for coral adaptation to warming seas is complicated by interactions between symbiotic partners that define stress responses and the difficulties of tracking selection in natural populations. To overcome these challenges, we characterized the contribution of both animal host and symbiotic algae to thermal tolerance in corals that have already experienced considerable warming on par with end-of-century projections for most coral reefs. Thermal responses in Platygyra daedalea corals from the hot Persian Gulf where summer temperatures reach 36°C were compared with conspecifics from the milder Sea of Oman. Persian Gulf corals had higher rates of survival at elevated temperatures (33 and 36°C) in both the nonsymbiotic larval stage (32-49% higher) and the symbiotic adult life stage (51% higher). Additionally, Persian Gulf hosts had fixed greater potential to mitigate oxidative stress (31-49% higher) and their Symbiodinium partners had better retention of photosynthetic performance under elevated temperature (up to 161% higher). Superior thermal tolerance of Persian Gulf vs. Sea of Oman corals was maintained after 6-month acclimatization to a common ambient environment and was underpinned by genetic divergence in both the coral host and symbiotic algae. In P. daedalea host samples, genomewide SNP variation clustered into two discrete groups corresponding with Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman sites. Symbiodinium within host tissues predominantly belonged to ITS2 rDNA type C3 in the Persian Gulf and type D1a in the Sea of Oman contradicting patterns of Symbiodinium thermal tolerance from other regions. Our findings provide evidence that genetic adaptation of both host and Symbiodinium has enabled corals to cope with extreme temperatures in the Persian Gulf. Thus, the persistence of coral populations under continued warming will likely be determined by evolutionary rates in both, rather than single, symbiotic partners. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  18. Bomb-cratered coral reefs in Puerto Rico, the untold story about a novel habitat: from reef destruction to community-based ecological rehabilitation

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Edwin A. Hernández-Delgado

    2014-09-01

    Full Text Available Ecological impacts of military bombing activities in Puerto Rico have often been described as minimal, with recurrent allegations of confounding effects by hurricanes, coral diseases and local anthropogenic stressors. Reef craters, though isolated, are associated with major colony fragmentation and framework pulverization, with a net permanent loss of reef bio-construction. In contrast, adjacent non-bombarded reef sections have significantly higher benthic spatial relief and biodiversity. We compared benthic communities on 35-50 year-old bomb-cratered coral reefs at Culebra and Vieques Islands, with adjacent non-impacted sites; 2 coral recruit density and fish community structure within and outside craters; and 3 early effects of a rehabilitation effort using low-tech Staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis farming. Reef craters ranged in size from approximately 50 to 400m² and were largely dominated by heavily fragmented, flattened benthos, with coral cover usually below 2% and dominance by non-reef building taxa (i.e., filamentous algal turfs, macroalgae. Benthic spatial heterogeneity was lower within craters which also resulted in a lowered functional value as fish nursery ground. Fish species richness, abundance and biomass, and coral recruit density were lower within craters. Low-tech, community-based approaches to culture, harvest and transplant A. cervicornis into formerly bombarded grounds have proved successful in increasing percent coral cover, benthic spatial heterogeneity, and helping rehabilitate nursery ground functions.

  19. Resilience of the prokaryotic microbial community of Acropora digitifera to elevated temperature.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gajigan, Andrian P; Diaz, Leomir A; Conaco, Cecilia

    2017-08-01

    The coral is a holobiont formed by the close interaction between the coral animal and a diverse community of microorganisms, including dinoflagellates, bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses. The prokaryotic symbionts of corals are important for host fitness but are also highly sensitive to changes in the environment. In this study, we used 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequencing to examine the response of the microbial community associated with the coral, Acropora digitifera, to elevated temperature. The A. digitifera microbial community is dominated by operational taxonomic unit (OTUs) affiliated with classes Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria. The prokaryotic community in the coral tissue is distinct from that of the mucus and the surrounding seawater. Remarkably, the overall microbial community structure of A. digitifera remained stable for 10 days of continuous exptosure at 32°C compared to corals maintained at 27°C. However, the elevated temperature regime resulted in a decrease in the abundance of OTUs affiliated with certain groups of bacteria, such as order Rhodobacterales. On the other hand, some OTUs affiliated with the orders Alteromonadales, Vibrionales, and Flavobacteriales, which are often associated with diseased and stressed corals, increased in abundance. Thus, while the A. digitifera bacterial community structure appears resilient to higher temperature, prolonged exposure and intensified stress results in changes in the abundance of specific microbial community members that may affect the overall metabolic state and health of the coral holobiont. © 2017 The Authors. MicrobiologyOpen published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  20. Paleoecological Evidence for Late Holocene Range Shifting of Acropora palmata and Orbicella annularis on the Nearshore Southeast Florida Reef Tract

    Science.gov (United States)

    Modys, A. B.; Zuccarelli, C. L.; Oleinik, A. E.

    2016-02-01

    Climate fluctuations on the southeast Florida reef tract have been linked to long-term geographic distribution shifts in framework-building coral species Acropora palmata and Orbicella annularis. Previous data suggest that the boundary for active reef accretion driven by these corals contracted southward to its current position at Biscayne Bay throughout the early to middle Holocene ( 8500-5500 cal BP). However, recent observations have shown that while A. palmata and O. annularis are still functionally absent north of this boundary, they are well represented within late Holocene sub-fossil death assemblages found at 3-4 m depths on the nearshore ridge complex (NRC). To assess this disparity, we performed a systematic comparison of taxonomic composition and diversity of living and dead coral assemblages at two locations on the northern NRC. We also determined an estimated age range for the death assemblages from 2 samples of A. palmata and 1 sample of O. annularis using high-resolution AMS radiocarbon dating. Our results show a clear transition from a late Holocene reef assemblage dominated by A. palmata and O. annularis to a modern reef assemblage dominated by less sensitive Porites astreoides. Sub-fossil A. palmata samples dated to 2950-3140 cal BP and 1820-1960 cal BP (2σ), and the sub-fossil O. annularis sample dated to 2290-2420 cal BP (2σ), indicating a total growth period of at least 1000 years. Our findings provide new evidence for a distinct late Holocene range shift in A. palmata and O. annularis on the northern shallow-water ridge complex of the southeast Florida reef tract system.

  1. Projected near-future levels of temperature and pCO2 reduce coral fertilization success.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Rebecca Albright

    Full Text Available Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO2 are projected to contribute to a 1.1-6.4°C rise in global average surface temperatures and a 0.14-0.35 reduction in the average pH of the global surface ocean by 2100. If realized, these changes are expected to have negative consequences for reef-building corals including increased frequency and severity of coral bleaching and reduced rates of calcification and reef accretion. Much less is known regarding the independent and combined effects of temperature and pCO2 on critical early life history processes such as fertilization. Here we show that increases in temperature (+3°C and pCO2 (+400 µatm projected for this century negatively impact fertilization success of a common Indo-Pacific coral species, Acropora tenuis. While maximum fertilization did not differ among treatments, the sperm concentration required to obtain 50% of maximum fertilization increased 6- to 8- fold with the addition of a single factor (temperature or CO2 and nearly 50- fold when both factors interact. Our results indicate that near-future changes in temperature and pCO2 narrow the range of sperm concentrations that are capable of yielding high fertilization success in A. tenuis. Increased sperm limitation, in conjunction with adult population decline, may have severe consequences for coral reproductive success. Impaired sexual reproduction will further challenge corals by inhibiting population recovery and adaptation potential.

  2. Juvenile corals can acquire more carbon from high-performance algal symbionts

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cantin, N. E.; van Oppen, M. J. H.; Willis, B. L.; Mieog, J. C.; Negri, A. P.

    2009-06-01

    Algal endosymbionts of the genus Symbiodinium play a key role in the nutrition of reef building corals and strongly affect the thermal tolerance and growth rate of the animal host. This study reports that 14C photosynthate incorporation into juvenile coral tissues was doubled in Acropora millepora harbouring Symbiodinium C1 compared with juveniles from common parentage harbouring Symbiodinium D in a laboratory experiment. Rapid light curves performed on the same corals revealed that the relative electron transport rate of photosystem II (rETRMAX) was 87% greater in Symbiodinium C1 than in Symbiodinium D in hospite. The greater relative electron transport through photosystem II of Symbiodinium C1 is positively correlated with increased carbon delivery to the host under the applied experimental conditions ( r 2 = 0.91). This may translate into a competitive advantage for juveniles harbouring Symbiodinium C1 under certain field conditions, since rapid early growth typically limits mortality. Both symbiont types exhibited severe reductions in 14C incorporation during a 10-h exposure to the electron transport blocking herbicide diuron (DCMU), confirming the link between electron transport through PSII and photosynthate incorporation within the host tissue. These findings advance the current understanding of symbiotic relationships between corals and their symbionts, providing evidence that enhanced growth rates of juvenile corals may result from greater translocation of photosynthates from Symbiodinium C1.

  3. Novel adaptive photosynthetic characteristics of mesophotic symbiotic microalgae within the reef-building coral, Stylophora pistillata

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Shai Einbinder

    2016-10-01

    Full Text Available Photosynthetic coral reef structures extend from the shallow sundrenched waters to the dimly lit, twilight mesophotic depths. For their resident endosymbiotic dinoflagellates, primarily from the genus Symbiodinium spp., this represents a photic environment that varies ~15 fold in intensity and also differs in spectral composition. We examined photosynthesis in the scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata in shallow (3 m and mesophotic settings (65m in the northern Red Sea. Symbiodinium spp. in corals originating from the mesophotic environment consistently performed below their photosynthetic compensation point and also exhibited distinct light harvesting antenna organization. In addition, the non-photochemical quenching activity of Symbiodinium spp. from mesophotic corals was shown to be considerably lower than those found in shallow corals, showing they have fewer defenses to high-light settings. Over a period of almost four years, we extensively utilized closed circuit Trimix rebreather diving to perform the study. Phylogenetic analysis showed that shallow corals (3m transplanted to a deep reef environment (65 m maintained their initial Symbiodinium spp. community (clade A, rather than taking on deep low-light clades (clade C, demonstrating that shallow S. pistillata acclimate to low-light mesophotic environments while maintaining their shallow photosynthetic traits. Mesophotic corals exhibited static depth-related chlorophyll content per cell, a decrease in PSI activity and enhanced sigmoidal fluorescence rise kinetics. The sigmoidal fluorescence rise kinetics we observed in mesophotic corals is an indication of energy transfer between photosynthetic units. We postulate that at mesophotic depths, a community of adapted Symbiodinium spp. utilize a unique adaptation to lower light conditions by shifting their light harvesting to a PSII based system, where PSII is structured near PSI, with additional PCP soluble antenna also trapping light

  4. Nickel and ocean warming affect scleractinian coral growth.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Biscéré, T; Lorrain, A; Rodolfo-Metalpa, R; Gilbert, A; Wright, A; Devissi, C; Peignon, C; Farman, R; Duvieilbourg, E; Payri, C; Houlbrèque, F

    2017-07-15

    The sensitivity of corals and their Symbiodinium to warming has been extensively documented; however very few studies considered that anthropogenic inputs such as metal pollution have already an impact on many fringing reefs. Thus, today, nickel releases are common in coastal ecosystems. In this study, two major reef-building species Acropora muricata and Pocillopora damicornis were exposed in situ to ambient and moderate nickel concentrations on a short-term period (1h) using benthic chamber experiments. Simultaneously, we tested in laboratory conditions the combined effects of a chronic exposure (8weeks) to moderate nickel concentrations and ocean warming on A. muricata. The in situ experiment highlighted that nickel enrichment, at ambient temperature, stimulated by 27 to 47% the calcification rates of both species but not their photosynthetic performances. In contrast, an exposure to higher nickel concentration, in combination with elevated temperature simulated in aquaria, severely depressed by 30% the growth of A. muricata. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  5. Mesoscale variation in the photophysiology of the reef building coral Pocillopora damicornis along an environmental gradient

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cooper, Timothy F.; Ulstrup, Karin E.

    2009-06-01

    Spatial variation in the photophysiology of symbiotic dinoflagellates (zooxanthellae) of the scleractinian coral Pocillopora damicornis was examined along an environmental gradient in the Whitsunday Islands (Great Barrier Reef) at two depths (3 m and 6 m). Chlorophyll a fluorescence of photosystem II (PSII) and PAR-absorptivity measurements were conducted using an Imaging-PAM (pulse-amplitude-modulation) fluorometer. Most photophysiological parameters correlated with changes in environmental conditions quantified by differences in water quality along the gradient. For example, maximum quantum yield ( Fv/ Fm) increased and PAR-absorptivity decreased as water quality improved along the gradient from nearshore reefs (low irradiance, elevated nutrients and sediments) to outer islands (high irradiance, low nutrients and sediments). For apparent photosynthetic rate (PS max) and minimum saturating irradiance ( Ek), the direction of change differed depending on sampling depth, suggesting that different mechanisms of photo-acclimatisation operated between shallow and deep corals. Deep corals conformed to typical patterns of light/shade acclimatisation whereas shallow corals exhibited reduced PS max and Ek with improving water quality coinciding with greater heat dissipation (NPQ 241). Furthermore, deep corals on nearshore reefs exhibited elevated Q241 in comparison to outer islands possibly due to effects of sedimentation and/or pollutants rather than irradiance. These results highlight the importance of mesoscale sampling to obtain useful estimates of the variability of photophysiological parameters, particularly if such measures are to be used as bioindicators of the condition of coral reefs.

  6. The reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea exhibits parabolic responses to ocean acidification and warming.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Castillo, Karl D; Ries, Justin B; Bruno, John F; Westfield, Isaac T

    2014-12-22

    Anthropogenic increases in atmospheric CO2 over this century are predicted to cause global average surface ocean pH to decline by 0.1-0.3 pH units and sea surface temperature to increase by 1-4°C. We conducted controlled laboratory experiments to investigate the impacts of CO2-induced ocean acidification (pCO2 = 324, 477, 604, 2553 µatm) and warming (25, 28, 32°C) on the calcification rate of the zooxanthellate scleractinian coral Siderastrea siderea, a widespread, abundant and keystone reef-builder in the Caribbean Sea. We show that both acidification and warming cause a parabolic response in the calcification rate within this coral species. Moderate increases in pCO2 and warming, relative to near-present-day values, enhanced coral calcification, with calcification rates declining under the highest pCO2 and thermal conditions. Equivalent responses to acidification and warming were exhibited by colonies across reef zones and the parabolic nature of the corals' response to these stressors was evident across all three of the experiment's 30-day observational intervals. Furthermore, the warming projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the end of the twenty-first century caused a fivefold decrease in the rate of coral calcification, while the acidification projected for the same interval had no statistically significant impact on the calcification rate-suggesting that ocean warming poses a more immediate threat than acidification for this important coral species.

  7. Reef-scale trends in Florida Acropora spp. abundance and the effects of population enhancement

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Margaret W. Miller

    2016-09-01

    Full Text Available Since the listing of Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis under the US Endangered Species Act in 2006, increasing investments have been made in propagation of listed corals (primarily A. cervicornis, A. palmata to a much lesser extent in offshore coral nurseries and outplanting cultured fragments to reef habitats. This investment is superimposed over a spatiotemporal patchwork of ongoing disturbances (especially storms, thermal bleaching, and disease as well as the potential for natural population recovery. In 2014 and 2015, we repeated broad scale (>50 ha, low precision Acropora spp. censuses (i.e., direct observation by snorkelers documented via handheld GPS originally conducted in appropriate reef habitats during 2005–2007 to evaluate the trajectory of local populations and the effect of population enhancement. Over the decade-long study, A. palmata showed a cumulative proportional decline of 0.4 –0.7x in colony density across all sites, despite very low levels of outplanting at some sites. A. cervicornis showed similar proportional declines at sites without outplanting. In contrast, sites that received A. cervicornis outplants showed a dramatic increase in density (over 13x. Indeed, change in A. cervicornis colony density was significantly positively correlated with cumulative numbers of outplants across sites. This study documents a substantive reef-scale benefit of Acropora spp. population enhancement in the Florida Keys, when performed at adequate levels, against a backdrop of ongoing population decline.

  8. Unusual “Knob-Like Chimney” Growth Forms on Acropora Species in the Caribbean

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andrea Rivera-Sosa

    2018-02-01

    Full Text Available This manuscript provides new insights on an unusual morphological plasticity growth form on Acropora spp. in the Caribbean. This abnormal knob-shaped growth is thought to be a progression from the damselfish “chimneys” that are commonly seen in coral-algal farms. However, the diameters of the observed knobs tend to be much larger on Acropora palmata, where they range from 1.37 to 5.44 cm in diameter, and they tend to be slightly smaller on A. prolifera, where they range from 1.1 to 2.72 cm in diameter. These knob-like chimney growths can affect entire colonies. The knobs are mostly covered with live tissue, while some knobs compete with turf algae. We hypothesize that these growths may be linked to stress from multiple predation and environmental conditions. Local stressors could synergistically influence the regeneration of scarred tissue and skeleton that result from predatory lesions, possibly leading to the formation of the knobs. Therefore, we provide preliminary data from a shallow reef site in coastal Honduras located within the Mesoamerican region where we found the knobs. To the best of our knowledge, the conditions that drive the occurrence of these unusual “knob-like chimneys” on Acropora spp. have not been previously assessed. Thus, we propose a series of guidelines to research the coral morphological plasticity that may be linked to this knob-like chimney phenomenon.

  9. Reef-scale trends in Florida Acropora spp. abundance and the effects of population enhancement.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Miller, Margaret W; Kerr, Katryna; Williams, Dana E

    2016-01-01

    Since the listing of Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis under the US Endangered Species Act in 2006, increasing investments have been made in propagation of listed corals (primarily A. cervicornis , A. palmata to a much lesser extent) in offshore coral nurseries and outplanting cultured fragments to reef habitats. This investment is superimposed over a spatiotemporal patchwork of ongoing disturbances (especially storms, thermal bleaching, and disease) as well as the potential for natural population recovery. In 2014 and 2015, we repeated broad scale (>50 ha), low precision Acropora spp. censuses (i.e., direct observation by snorkelers documented via handheld GPS) originally conducted in appropriate reef habitats during 2005-2007 to evaluate the trajectory of local populations and the effect of population enhancement. Over the decade-long study, A. palmata showed a cumulative proportional decline of 0.4 -0.7x in colony density across all sites, despite very low levels of outplanting at some sites. A. cervicornis showed similar proportional declines at sites without outplanting. In contrast, sites that received A. cervicornis outplants showed a dramatic increase in density (over 13x). Indeed, change in A. cervicornis colony density was significantly positively correlated with cumulative numbers of outplants across sites. This study documents a substantive reef-scale benefit of Acropora spp. population enhancement in the Florida Keys, when performed at adequate levels, against a backdrop of ongoing population decline.

  10. Some rare Indo-Pacific coral species are probable hybrids.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Zoe T Richards

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Coral reefs worldwide face a variety of threats and many coral species are increasingly endangered. It is often assumed that rare coral species face higher risks of extinction because they have very small effective population sizes, a predicted consequence of which is decreased genetic diversity and adaptive potential. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here we show that some Indo-Pacific members of the coral genus Acropora have very small global population sizes and are likely to be unidirectional hybrids. Whether this reflects hybrid origins or secondary hybridization following speciation is unclear. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The interspecific gene flow demonstrated here implies increased genetic diversity and adaptive potential in these coral species. Rare Acropora species may therefore be less vulnerable to extinction than has often been assumed because of their propensity for hybridization and introgression, which may increase their adaptive potential.

  11. Hybridization and the evolution of reef coral diversity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vollmer, Steven V; Palumbi, Stephen R

    2002-06-14

    Hundreds of coral species coexist sympatrically on reefs, reproducing in mass-spawning events where hybridization appears common. In the Caribbean, DNA sequence data from all three sympatric Acropora corals show that mass spawning does not erode species barriers. Species A. cervicornis and A. palmata are distinct at two nuclear loci or share ancestral alleles. Morphotypes historically given the name Acropora prolifera are entirely F(1) hybrids of these two species, showing morphologies that depend on which species provides the egg for hybridization. Although selection limits the evolutionary potential of hybrids, F(1) individuals can reproduce asexually and form long-lived, potentially immortal hybrids with unique morphologies.

  12. Temporal Sampling of White Band Disease Infected Corals Reveals Complex and Dynamic Bacterial Communities

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gignoux-Wolfsohn, S.; Vollmer, S. V.; Aronson, F. M.

    2016-02-01

    White band disease (WBD) is a coral disease that is currently decimating populations of the endangered staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis and elkhorn coral, A. palmata across the Caribbean. Since it was first reported in 1979, WBD has killed 95% of these critical reef-building Caribbean corals. WBD is infectious; it can be transmitted through the water column or by a corallivorous snail. While previous research shows that WBD is likely caused by bacteria, identification of a specific pathogen or pathogens has remained elusive. Much of the difficulty of understanding the etiology of the disease comes from a lack of information about how existing bacterial communities respond to disease and separating initial from secondary colonizers. In order to address this lack of information, we performed a fully-crossed tank infection experiment. We exposed healthy corals from two different sites to disease and healthy (control) homogenates from both sites, replicating genotype across tanks. We sampled every coral at three time points: before inoculation with the homogenate, after inoculation, and when the coral showed signs of disease. We then performed 16S rRNA gene sequencing on the Illumina HiSeq 2000. We saw significant differences between time points and disease state. Interestingly, at the first time point (time one) we observed differences between genotypes: every fragment from some genotypes was dominated by Endozoicomonas, while other genotypes were not dominated by one family. At time two we saw an increase in abundance of Alteromonadaceae and Flavobacteriaceae in all corals, and a larger increase in disease-exposed corals. At time three, we saw another increase in Flavobacteriaceae abundance in diseased corals, as well as an introduction of Francisella to diseased corals. While Flavobacteriaceae and Francisella were proposed as potential pathogens, their increase at time three suggests they may be secondary colonizers or opportunists. In genotypes that were

  13. Long-term growth rates and effects of bleaching in Acropora hyacinthus

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gold, Zachary; Palumbi, Stephen R.

    2018-03-01

    Understanding the response of coral growth to natural variation in the environment, as well as to acute temperature stress under current and future climate change conditions, is critical to predicting the future health of coral reef ecosystems. As such, ecological surveys are beginning to focus on corals that live in high thermal stress environments to understand how future coral populations may adapt to climate change. We investigated the relationship between coral growth, thermal microhabitat, symbionts type, and thermal acclimatization of four species of the Acropora hyacinthus complex in back-reef lagoons in American Samoa. Coral growth was measured from August 2010 to April 2016 using horizontal planar area of coral colonies derived from photographs and in situ maximum width measurements. Despite marked intraspecific variation, we found that planar colony growth rates were significantly different among cryptic species. The highly heat tolerant A. hyacinthus variant "HE" increased in area an average of 2.9% month-1 (0.03 cm average mean radial extension month-1). By contrast, the three less tolerant species averaged 6.1% (0.07 cm average mean radial extension month-1). Planar growth rates were 40% higher on average in corals harboring Clade C versus Clade D symbiont types, although marked inter-colony variation in growth rendered this difference nonsignificant. Planar growth rates for all four species dropped to near zero following a 2015 bleaching event, independent of the visually estimated percent area of bleaching. Within 1 yr, growth rates recovered to previous levels, confirming previous studies that found sublethal effects of thermal stress on coral growth. Long-term studies of individual coral colonies provide an important tool to measure impacts of environmental change and allow integration of coral physiology, genetics, symbionts, and microclimate on reef growth patterns.

  14. Gender-related differences in the apparent timing of skeletal density bands in the reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea

    Science.gov (United States)

    Carricart-Ganivet, J. P.; Vásquez-Bedoya, L. F.; Cabanillas-Terán, N.; Blanchon, P.

    2013-09-01

    Density banding in skeletons of reef-building corals is a valuable source of proxy environmental data. However, skeletal growth strategy has a significant impact on the apparent timing of density-band formation. Some corals employ a strategy where the tissue occupies previously formed skeleton during as the new band forms, which leads to differences between the actual and apparent band timing. To investigate this effect, we collected cores from female and male colonies of Siderastrea siderea and report tissue thicknesses and density-related growth parameters over a 17-yr interval. Correlating these results with monthly sea surface temperature (SST) shows that maximum skeletal density in the female coincides with low winter SSTs, whereas in the male, it coincides with high summer SSTs. Furthermore, maximum skeletal densities in the female coincide with peak Sr/Ca values, whereas in the male, they coincide with low Sr/Ca values. Both results indicate a 6-month difference in the apparent timing of density-band formation between genders. Examination of skeletal extension rates also show that the male has thicker tissue and extends faster, whereas the female has thinner tissue and a denser skeleton—but both calcify at the same rate. The correlation between extension and calcification, combined with the fact that density banding arises from thickening of the skeleton throughout the depth reached by the tissue layer, implies that S. siderea has the same growth strategy as massive Porites, investing its calcification resources into linear extension. In addition, differences in tissue thicknesses suggest that females offset the greater energy requirements of gamete production by generating less tissue, resulting in differences in the apparent timing of density-band formation. Such gender-related offsets may be common in other corals and require that environmental reconstructions be made from sexed colonies and that, in fossil corals where sex cannot be determined

  15. Transplantation of storm-generated coral fragments to enhance Caribbean coral reefs: A successful method but not a solution

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Virginia H. Garrison

    2012-03-01

    Full Text Available In response to dramatic losses of reef-building corals and ongoing lack of recovery, a small-scale coral transplant project was initiated in the Caribbean (U.S. Virgin Islands in 1999 and was followed for 12 years. The primary objectives were to (1 identify a source of coral colonies for transplantation that would not result in damage to reefs, (2 test the feasibility of transplanting storm-generated coral fragments, and (3 develop a simple, inexpensive method for transplanting fragments that could be conducted by the local community. The ultimate goal was to enhance abundance of threatened reef-building species on local reefs. Storm-produced coral fragments of two threatened reef-building species [Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis (Acroporidae] and another fast-growing species [Porites porites (Poritidae] were collected from environments hostile to coral fragment survival and transplanted to degraded reefs. Inert nylon cable ties were used to attach transplanted coral fragments to dead coral substrate. Survival of 75 reference colonies and 60 transplants was assessed over 12 years. Only 9% of colonies were alive after 12 years: no A. cervicornis; 3% of A. palmata transplants and 18% of reference colonies; and 13% of P. porites transplants and 7% of reference colonies. Mortality rates for all species were high and were similar for transplant and reference colonies. Physical dislodgement resulted in the loss of 56% of colonies, whereas 35% died in place. Only A. palmata showed a difference between transplant and reference colony survival and that was in the first year only. Location was a factor in survival only for A. palmata reference colonies and after year 10. Even though the tested methods and concepts were proven effective in the field over the 12-year study, they do not present a solution. No coral conservation strategy will be effective until underlying intrinsic and/or extrinsic factors driving high mortality rates are understood and

  16. Secondary structure of the rRNA ITS2 region reveals key evolutionary patterns in acroporid corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coleman, Annette W; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2008-10-01

    This study investigates the ribosomal RNA transcript secondary structure in corals as confirmed by compensatory base changes in Isopora/Acropora species. These species are unique versus all other corals in the absence of a eukaryote-wide conserved structural component, the helix III in internal transcriber spacer (ITS) 2, and their variability in the 5.8S-LSU helix basal to ITS2, a helix with pairings identical among all other scleractinian corals. Furthermore, Isopora/Acropora individuals display at least two, and as many as three, ITS sequence isotypes in their genome which appear to be capable of function. From consideration of the conserved elements in ITS2 and flanking regions, it appears that there are three major groups within the IsoporaAcropora lineage: the Isopora + Acropora "longi" group, the large group including Caribbean Acropora + the Acropora "carib" types plus the bulk of the Indo-Pacific Acropora species, and the remaining enigmatic "pseudo" group found in the Pacific. Interbreeding is possible among Caribbean A. palmata and A. cervicornis and among some species of Indo-Pacific Acropora. Recombinant ITS sequences are obvious among these latter, such that morphology (as represented by species name) does not correlate with common ITS sequence. The combination of characters revealed by RNA secondary structure analyses suggests a recent past/current history of interbreeding among the Indo-Pacific Acropora species and a shared ancestry of some of these with the Caribbean Acropora. The unusual absence of helix III of ITS2 of Isopora/Acropora species may have some causative role in the equally unusual instability in the 5.8S-LSU helix basal to ITS2 of this species complex.

  17. Seaweed-coral interactions: variance in seaweed allelopathy, coral susceptibility, and potential effects on coral resilience.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Roberta M Bonaldo

    Full Text Available Tropical reefs are in global decline with seaweeds commonly replacing corals. Negative associations between macroalgae and corals are well documented, but the mechanisms involved, the dynamics of the interactions, and variance in effects of different macroalgal-coral pairings are poorly investigated. We assessed the frequency, magnitude, and dynamics of macroalgal-coral competition involving allelopathic and non-allelopathic macroalgae on three, spatially grouped pairs of no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs and non-MPAs in Fiji. In non-MPAs, biomass of herbivorous fishes was 70-80% lower, macroalgal cover 4-9 fold higher, macroalgal-coral contacts 5-15 fold more frequent and 23-67 fold more extensive (measured as % of colony margin contacted by macroalgae, and coral cover 51-68% lower than in MPAs. Coral contacts with allelopathic macroalgae occurred less frequently than expected by chance across all sites, while contact with non-allelopathic macroalgae tended to occur more frequently than expected. Transplants of allelopathic macroalgae (Chlorodesmis fastigiata and Galaxaura filamentosa against coral edges inflicted damage to Acropora aspera and Pocillopora damicornis more rapidly and extensively than to Porites cylindrica and Porites lobata, which appeared more resistant to these macroalgae. Montipora digitata experienced intermediate damage. Extent of damage from macroalgal contact was independent of coral colony size for each of the 10 macroalgal-coral pairings we established. When natural contacts with Galaxaura filamentosa were removed in the field, recovery was rapid for Porites lobata, but Pocillopora damicornis did not recover and damage continued to expand. As macroalgae increase on overfished tropical reefs, allelopathy could produce feedbacks that suppress coral resilience, prevent coral recovery, and promote the stability of algal beds in habitats previously available to corals.

  18. Environmental Drivers of Variation in Bleaching Severity of Acropora Species during an Extreme Thermal Anomaly

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mia O. Hoogenboom

    2017-11-01

    Full Text Available High sea surface temperatures caused global coral bleaching during 2015–2016. During this thermal stress event, we quantified within- and among-species variability in bleaching severity for critical habitat-forming Acropora corals. The objective of this study was to understand the drivers of spatial and species-specific variation in the bleaching susceptibility of these corals, and to evaluate whether bleaching susceptibility under extreme thermal stress was consistent with that observed during less severe bleaching events. We surveyed and mapped Acropora corals at 10 sites (N = 596 around the Lizard Island group on the northern Great Barrier Reef. For each colony, bleaching severity was quantified using a new image analysis technique, and we assessed whether small-scale environmental variables (depth, microhabitat, competition intensity and species traits (colony morphology, colony size, known symbiont clade association explained variation in bleaching. Results showed that during severe thermal stress, bleaching of branching corals was linked to microhabitat features, and was more severe at reef edge compared with lagoonal sites. Bleaching severity worsened over a very short time-frame (~1 week, but did not differ systematically with water depth, competition intensity, or colony size. At our study location, within- and among-species variation in bleaching severity was relatively low compared to the level of variation reported in the literature. More broadly, our results indicate that variability in bleaching susceptibility during extreme thermal stress is not consistent with that observed during previous bleaching events that have ranged in severity among globally dispersed sites, with fewer species escaping bleaching during severe thermal stress. In addition, shaded microhabitats can provide a refuge from bleaching which provides further evidence of the importance of topographic complexity for maintaining the biodiversity and ecosystem

  19. Is Echinometra viridis facilitating a phase shift on an Acropora cervicornis patch reef in Belize?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stefanic, C. M.; Greer, L.; Norvell, D.; Benson, W.; Curran, H.

    2012-12-01

    Coral reef health is in rapid decline across the Caribbean due to a number of anthropogenic and natural disturbances. A phase shift from coral- to macroalgae-dominant reefs is pervasive and has been well documented. Acropora cervicornis (Staghorn Coral) has been particularly affected by this shift due to mass mortality of this species since the 1980s. In recent years few Caribbean A. cervicornis refugia have been documented. This study characterizes the relationship between coral and grazing urchins on a rare patch reef system dominated by A. cervicornis off the coast of Belize. To assess relative abundance of live A. cervicornis and the urchin Echinometra viridis, photographs and urchin abundance data were collected from 132 meter square quadrats along five transects across the reef. Photographs were digitized and manually segmented using Adobe Illustrator, and percent live coral cover and branch tip densities were calculated using Matlab. Mean percent live coral cover across all transects was 24.4 % with a high of 65% live coral per meter square. Average urchin density was 18.5 per quadrat, with an average density per transect ranging from 22.1 to 0.5 per quadrat. Up to over 400 live A. cervicornis branch tips per quadrat were observed. Data show a positive correlation between E. viridis abundance and live A. cervicornis, suggesting that these urchins are facilitating recovery or persistence of this endangered coral species. These results suggest the relationship between E. viridis and A. cervicornis could be a key element in a future reversal of the coral to macroalgae phase shift on some Caribbean coral reefs.

  20. Assessment of host-associated genetic differentiation among phenotypically divergent populations of a coral-eating gastropod across the Caribbean.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Lyza Johnston

    Full Text Available Host-associated adaptation is emerging as a potential driver of population differentiation and speciation for marine organisms with major implications for ecosystem structure and function. Coralliophila abbreviata are corallivorous gastropods that live and feed on most of the reef-building corals in the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean. Populations of C. abbreviata associated with the threatened acroporid corals, Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, display different behavioral, morphological, demographic, and life-history characteristics than those that inhabit other coral host taxa, indicating that host-specific selective forces may be acting on C. abbreviata. Here, we used newly developed polymorphic microsatellite loci and mitochondrial cytochrome b sequence data to assess the population genetic structure, connectivity, and demographic history of C. abbreviata populations from three coral host taxa (A. palmata, Montastraea spp., Mycetophyllia spp. and six geographic locations across the Caribbean. Analysis of molecular variance provided some evidence of weak and possibly geographically variable host-associated differentiation but no evidence of differentiation among sampling locations or major oceanographic regions, suggesting high gene flow across the Caribbean. Phylogenetic network and bayesian clustering analyses supported a hypothesis of a single panmictic population as individuals failed to cluster by host or sampling location. Demographic analyses consistently supported a scenario of population expansion during the Pleistocene, a time of major carbonate reef development in the region. Although further study is needed to fully elucidate the interactive effects of host-associated selection and high gene flow in this system, our results have implications for local and regional community interactions and impact of predation on declining coral populations.

  1. Assessment of host-associated genetic differentiation among phenotypically divergent populations of a coral-eating gastropod across the Caribbean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Johnston, Lyza; Miller, Margaret W; Baums, Iliana B

    2012-01-01

    Host-associated adaptation is emerging as a potential driver of population differentiation and speciation for marine organisms with major implications for ecosystem structure and function. Coralliophila abbreviata are corallivorous gastropods that live and feed on most of the reef-building corals in the tropical western Atlantic and Caribbean. Populations of C. abbreviata associated with the threatened acroporid corals, Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis, display different behavioral, morphological, demographic, and life-history characteristics than those that inhabit other coral host taxa, indicating that host-specific selective forces may be acting on C. abbreviata. Here, we used newly developed polymorphic microsatellite loci and mitochondrial cytochrome b sequence data to assess the population genetic structure, connectivity, and demographic history of C. abbreviata populations from three coral host taxa (A. palmata, Montastraea spp., Mycetophyllia spp.) and six geographic locations across the Caribbean. Analysis of molecular variance provided some evidence of weak and possibly geographically variable host-associated differentiation but no evidence of differentiation among sampling locations or major oceanographic regions, suggesting high gene flow across the Caribbean. Phylogenetic network and bayesian clustering analyses supported a hypothesis of a single panmictic population as individuals failed to cluster by host or sampling location. Demographic analyses consistently supported a scenario of population expansion during the Pleistocene, a time of major carbonate reef development in the region. Although further study is needed to fully elucidate the interactive effects of host-associated selection and high gene flow in this system, our results have implications for local and regional community interactions and impact of predation on declining coral populations.

  2. Niche specialization of reef-building corals in the mesophotic zone

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Cooper, Timothy F.; Ulstrup, Karin Elizabeth; Dandan, Sana S.

    2011-01-01

    The photobiology of two reef corals and the distribution of associated symbiont types were investigated over a depth gradient of 0–60 m at Scott Reef, Western Australia. Pachyseris speciosa hosted mainly the same Symbiodinium C type similar to C3 irrespective of sampling depth. By contrast...

  3. The host transcriptome remains unaltered during the establishment of coral-algal symbioses.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Voolstra, Christian R; Schwarz, Jodi A; Schnetzer, Julia; Sunagawa, Shinichi; Desalvo, Michael K; Szmant, Alina M; Coffroth, Mary Alice; Medina, Mónica

    2009-05-01

    Coral reefs are based on the symbiotic relationship between corals and photosynthetic dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium. We followed gene expression of coral larvae of Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata after exposure to Symbiodinium strains that differed in their ability to establish symbioses. We show that the coral host transcriptome remains almost unchanged during infection by competent symbionts, but is massively altered by symbionts that fail to establish symbioses. Our data suggest that successful coral-algal symbioses depend mainly on the symbionts' ability to enter the host in a stealth manner rather than a more active response from the coral host.

  4. Tradeoffs to Thermal Acclimation: Energetics and Reproduction of a Reef Coral with Heat Tolerant Symbiodinium Type-D

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Alison M. Jones

    2011-01-01

    Full Text Available The photo-physiological characteristics of thermo-tolerant Symbiodinium types have been postulated to have negative effects on the energetics of the reef corals by reducing fitness. To investigate this, two key and inextricably coupled indicators of fitness, lipids and reproduction, were monitored in colonies of the broadcast-spawning coral Acropora millepora over a two-year period that included a natural bleaching event. In the absence of bleaching ITS1-type clade D predominant colonies had 26% lower stored lipids compared to C2 colonies. At spawning time, this correlated with 28% smaller eggs in type-D colonies. This energetic disparity is expected to have reduced larval duration and settlement-competency periods in type-D compared to type-C2 colonies. More importantly, irrespective of the effect of genotype, the fitness of all corals was adversely affected by the stress of the bleaching event which reduced prespawning lipids by 60% and halved the number of eggs compared to the previous year. Our results extend work that has shown that direct temperature stress and symbiont change are likely to work in concert on corals by demonstrating that the lipids and reproduction of the reef building corals on tropical reefs are likely to be impaired by these processes as our climate warms.

  5. Acropora interbranch skeleton Sr/Ca ratios: Evaluation of a potential new high-resolution paleothermometer

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sadler, James; Nguyen, Ai D.; Leonard, Nicole D.; Webb, Gregory E.; Nothdurft, Luke D.

    2016-04-01

    The majority of coral geochemistry-based paleoclimate reconstructions in the Indo-Pacific are conducted on selectively cored colonies of massive Porites. This restriction to a single genus may make it difficult to amass the required paleoclimate data for studies that require deep reef coring techniques. Acropora, however, is a highly abundant coral genus in both modern and fossil reef systems and displays potential as a novel climate archive. Here we present a calibration study for Sr/Ca ratios recovered from interbranch skeleton in corymbose Acropora colonies from Heron Reef, southern Great Barrier Reef. Significant intercolony differences in absolute Sr/Ca ratios were normalized by producing anomaly plots of both coral geochemistry and instrumental water temperature records. Weighted linear regression of these anomalies from the lagoon and fore-reef slope provide a sensitivity of -0.05 mmol/mol °C-1, with a correlation coefficient (r2 = 0.65) comparable to those of genera currently used in paleoclimate reconstructions. Reconstructions of lagoon and reef slope mean seasonality in water temperature accurately identify the greater seasonal amplitude observed in the lagoon of Heron Reef. A longer calibration period is, however, required for reliable reconstructions of annual mean water temperatures.

  6. A community change in the algal endosymbionts of a scleractinian coral following a natural bleaching event: field evidence of acclimatization.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jones, A M; Berkelmans, R; van Oppen, M J H; Mieog, J C; Sinclair, W

    2008-06-22

    The symbiosis between reef-building corals and their algal endosymbionts (zooxanthellae of the genus Symbiodinium) is highly sensitive to temperature stress, which makes coral reefs vulnerable to climate change. Thermal tolerance in corals is known to be substantially linked to the type of zooxanthellae they harbour and, when multiple types are present, the relative abundance of types can be experimentally manipulated to increase the thermal limits of individual corals. Although the potential exists for this to translate into substantial thermal acclimatization of coral communities, to date there is no evidence to show that this takes place under natural conditions. In this study, we show field evidence of a dramatic change in the symbiont community of Acropora millepora, a common and widespread Indo-Pacific hard coral species, after a natural bleaching event in early 2006 in the Keppel Islands (Great Barrier Reef). Before bleaching, 93.5% (n=460) of the randomly sampled and tagged colonies predominantly harboured the thermally sensitive Symbiodinium type C2, while the remainder harboured a tolerant Symbiodinium type belonging to clade D or mixtures of C2 and D. After bleaching, 71% of the surviving tagged colonies that were initially C2 predominant changed to D or C1 predominance. Colonies that were originally C2 predominant suffered high mortality (37%) compared with D-predominant colonies (8%). We estimate that just over 18% of the original A. millepora population survived unchanged leaving 29% of the population C2 and 71% D or C1 predominant six months after the bleaching event. This change in the symbiont community structure, while it persists, is likely to have substantially increased the thermal tolerance of this coral population. Understanding the processes that underpin the temporal changes in symbiont communities is key to assessing the acclimatization potential of reef corals.

  7. Coral resistance to ocean acidification linked to increased calcium at the site of calcification.

    Science.gov (United States)

    DeCarlo, T M; Comeau, S; Cornwall, C E; McCulloch, M T

    2018-05-16

    Ocean acidification threatens the persistence of biogenic calcium carbonate (CaCO 3 ) production on coral reefs. However, some coral genera show resistance to declines in seawater pH, potentially achieved by modulating the chemistry of the fluid where calcification occurs. We use two novel geochemical techniques based on boron systematics and Raman spectroscopy, which together provide the first constraints on the sensitivity of coral calcifying fluid calcium concentrations ([Formula: see text]) to changing seawater pH. In response to simulated end-of-century pH conditions, Pocillopora damicornis increased [Formula: see text] to as much as 25% above that of seawater and maintained constant calcification rates. Conversely, Acropora youngei displayed less control over [Formula: see text], and its calcification rates strongly declined at lower seawater pH. Although the role of [Formula: see text] in driving calcification has often been neglected, increasing [Formula: see text] may be a key mechanism enabling more resistant corals to cope with ocean acidification and continue to build CaCO 3 skeletons in a high-CO 2 world. © 2018 The Author(s).

  8. Corals Form Characteristic Associations with Symbiotic Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lema, Kimberley A.; Willis, Bette L.

    2012-01-01

    The complex symbiotic relationship between corals and their dinoflagellate partner Symbiodinium is believed to be sustained through close associations with mutualistic bacterial communities, though little is known about coral associations with bacterial groups able to fix nitrogen (diazotrophs). In this study, we investigated the diversity of diazotrophic bacterial communities associated with three common coral species (Acropora millepora, Acropora muricata, and Pocillopora damicormis) from three midshelf locations of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) by profiling the conserved subunit of the nifH gene, which encodes the dinitrogenase iron protein. Comparisons of diazotrophic community diversity among coral tissue and mucus microenvironments and the surrounding seawater revealed that corals harbor diverse nifH phylotypes that differ between tissue and mucus microhabitats. Coral mucus nifH sequences displayed high heterogeneity, and many bacterial groups overlapped with those found in seawater. Moreover, coral mucus diazotrophs were specific neither to coral species nor to reef location, reflecting the ephemeral nature of coral mucus. In contrast, the dominant diazotrophic bacteria in tissue samples differed among coral species, with differences remaining consistent at all three reefs, indicating that coral-diazotroph associations are species specific. Notably, dominant diazotrophs for all coral species were closely related to the bacterial group rhizobia, which represented 71% of the total sequences retrieved from tissue samples. The species specificity of coral-diazotroph associations further supports the coral holobiont model that bacterial groups associated with corals are conserved. Our results suggest that, as in terrestrial plants, rhizobia have developed a mutualistic relationship with corals and may contribute fixed nitrogen to Symbiodinium. PMID:22344646

  9. Colony geometry and structural complexity of the endangered species Acropora cervicornis partly explains the structure of their associated fish assemblage.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Agudo-Adriani, Esteban A; Cappelletto, Jose; Cavada-Blanco, Francoise; Croquer, Aldo

    2016-01-01

    In the past decade, significant efforts have been made to describe fish-habitat associations. However, most studies have oversimplified actual connections between fish assemblages and their habitats by using univariate correlations. The purpose of this study was to identify the features of habitat forming corals that facilitate and influences assemblages of associated species such as fishes. For this we developed three-dimensional models of colonies of Acropora cervicornis to estimate geometry (length and height), structural complexity (i.e., volume, density of branches, etc.) and biological features of the colonies (i.e., live coral tissue, algae). We then correlated these colony characteristics with the associated fish assemblage using multivariate analyses. We found that geometry and complexity were better predictors of the structure of fish community, compared to other variables such as percentage of live coral tissue or algae. Combined, the geometry of each colony explained 40% of the variability of the fish assemblage structure associated with this coral species; 61% of the abundance and 69% of fish richness, respectively. Our study shows that three-dimensional reconstructions of discrete colonies of Acropora cervicornis provides a useful description of the colonial structural complexity and may explain a great deal of the variance in the structure of the associated coral reef fish community. This demonstration of the strongly trait-dependent ecosystem role of this threatened species has important implications for restoration and conservation efforts.

  10. Colony geometry and structural complexity of the endangered species Acropora cervicornis partly explains the structure of their associated fish assemblage

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Esteban A. Agudo-Adriani

    2016-04-01

    Full Text Available In the past decade, significant efforts have been made to describe fish-habitat associations. However, most studies have oversimplified actual connections between fish assemblages and their habitats by using univariate correlations. The purpose of this study was to identify the features of habitat forming corals that facilitate and influences assemblages of associated species such as fishes. For this we developed three-dimensional models of colonies of Acropora cervicornis to estimate geometry (length and height, structural complexity (i.e., volume, density of branches, etc. and biological features of the colonies (i.e., live coral tissue, algae. We then correlated these colony characteristics with the associated fish assemblage using multivariate analyses. We found that geometry and complexity were better predictors of the structure of fish community, compared to other variables such as percentage of live coral tissue or algae. Combined, the geometry of each colony explained 40% of the variability of the fish assemblage structure associated with this coral species; 61% of the abundance and 69% of fish richness, respectively. Our study shows that three-dimensional reconstructions of discrete colonies of Acropora cervicornis provides a useful description of the colonial structural complexity and may explain a great deal of the variance in the structure of the associated coral reef fish community. This demonstration of the strongly trait-dependent ecosystem role of this threatened species has important implications for restoration and conservation efforts.

  11. Metagenomic and ecophysiological analysis of biofilms colonizing coral substrates: "Life after death of coral"

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sanchez, A., Sr.; Cerqueda-Garcia, D.; Falcón, L. I.; Iglesias-Prieto, R., Sr.

    2015-12-01

    Coral reefs are the most productive ecosystems on the planet and are the most important carbonated structures of biological origin. However, global warming is affecting the health and functionality of these ecosystems. Specifically, most of the Acropora sp. stony corals have declined their population all over the Mexican Caribbean in more than ~80% of their original coverage, resulting in vast extensions of dead coral rubble. When the coral dies, the skeleton begins to be colonized by algae, sponges, bacteria and others, forming a highly diverse biofilm. We analyzed the metagenomes of the dead A. palmata rubbles from Puerto Morelos, in the Mexican Caribbean. Also, we quantified the elemental composition of biomass and measured nitrogen fixation and emission of greenhouse gases over 24 hrs. This works provides information on how the community is composed and functions after the death of the coral, visualizing a possible picture for a world without coral reefs.

  12. The Acropora inheritance: A reinterpretation of the development of fringing reefs in Barbados, West Indies

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lewis, John B.

    1984-11-01

    The discovery of the widespread occurrence of the remains of the reef coral Acropora palmata within the fabric of the fringing reefs on the west coast of Barbados requires a new interpretation of their Holocene development. Radiocarbon dating of the A. palmata framework suggests that reef construction by this species began as early as 2,300 years B.P. A. palmata probably flourished in Barbados into the present century but has now declined. The present fringing reefs are characterized by a core and base of A. palmata upon which subsequent colonization took place, especially by Montastrea annularis, Porites porites and coralline algae.

  13. Response to short term ultraviolet stress in the reef-building coral Pocillopora capitata (Anthozoa: Scleractinia).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Liñán-Cabello, Marco A; Flores-Ramírez, Laura A; Cobo-Díaz, José Francisco; Zenteno-Savin, Tania; Olguín-Monroy, Norma O; Olivos-Ortiz, Aramís; Tintos-Gómez, Adrián

    2010-03-01

    Coral reefs are impacted by a range of environmental variables that affect their growth and survival, the main factors being the high irradiance and temperature fluctuations. Specimens of Pocillopora capitata Verrill 1864 were exposed to photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) for 32 h under laboratory conditions. We examined lipid peroxidation (MDA), antioxidant enzyme activities (SOD, CAT, GPx and GST), chlorophyll a (Chl a), carotenoid pigments (CPs), mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs), and expulsion of zooxanthellae. Our results revealed that corals exposed to UVR had relatively low levels of carotenoids and antioxidant enzyme activities compared to those exposed to PAR, as well as lower CPs/Chl a ratios. Although MAAs and CPs are rapidly produced as non-enzymatic antioxidants in response to UVR in corals, these were not sufficient, even in the dark phase of the experiment, to mitigate the damage caused by formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which caused breakdown of the symbiotic relationship between the zooxanthellae and the host animal to an extent 33 times greater than in the PAR treatment. In this study, it could be possible to distinguish that, parallel to the short-term adjustments, such as the amount of pigment in the algae or the sensitivity of the photosynthetic response reported in other species of coral, P. capitata exhibits at the enzymatic level a series of responses oriented to resist the effects derived from the propagation of ROS and, thus, to adapt to and maintain its reproductive capacity in shallow oceanic environments that commonly exhibit high UVR levels. Nevertheless, as a result of the inappropriate location of the artificial intercommunication structure of the Juluapan Lagoon with respect to the arrecifal area of study and therefore of the tides influence, other variables, such as the changes in short-term in turbidity, sediment inputs, nutrients, temperature and osmolarity, can act in

  14. Coral recovery in the central Maldives archipelago since the last major mass-bleaching, in 1998

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pisapia, C.; Burn, D.; Yoosuf, R.; Najeeb, A.; Anderson, K. D.; Pratchett, M. S.

    2016-10-01

    Increasing frequency and severity of disturbances is causing global degradation of coral reef ecosystems. This study examined temporal changes in live coral cover and coral composition in the central Maldives from 1997 to 2016, encompassing two bleaching events, a tsunami, and an outbreak of Acanthaster planci. We also examined the contemporary size structure for five dominant coral taxa (tabular Acropora, Acropora muricata, Acropora humilis, Pocillopora spp, and massive Porites). Total coral cover increased throughout the study period, with marked increases following the 1998 mass-bleaching. The relative abundance of key genera has changed through time, where Acropora and Pocillopora (which are highly susceptible to bleaching) were under-represented following 1998 mass-bleaching but increased until outbreaks of A. planci in 2015. The contemporary size-structure for all coral taxa was dominated by larger colonies with peaked distributions suggesting that recent disturbances had a disproportionate impact on smaller colonies, or that recruitment is currently limited. This may suggest that coral resilience has been compromised by recent disturbances, and further bleaching (expected in 2016) could lead to highly protracted recovery times. We showed that Maldivian reefs recovered following the 1998 mass-bleaching event, but it took up to a decade, and ongoing disturbances may be eroding reef resilience.

  15. Beyond peak summer temperatures, branching corals in the Gulf of Aqaba are resilient to thermal stress but sensitive to high light

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bellworthy, Jessica; Fine, Maoz

    2017-12-01

    Despite rapidly rising sea surface temperatures and recurrent positive temperature anomalies, corals in the Gulf of Aqaba (GoA) rarely experience thermal bleaching. Elsewhere, mass coral bleaching has been observed in corals when the water temperature exceeds 1-2 °C above the local maximum monthly mean (MMM). This threshold value or "bleaching rule" has been used to create predictive models of bleaching from satellite sea surface temperature observations, namely the "degree heating week" index. This study aimed to characterize the physiological changes of dominant reef building corals from the GoA in response to a temperature and light stress gradient. Coral collection and experiments began after a period of 14 consecutive days above MMM in the field. Stylophora pistillata showed negligible changes in symbiont and host physiology parameters after accumulating up to 9.4 degree heating weeks during peak summer temperatures, for which the index predicts widespread bleaching and some mortality. This result demonstrates acute thermal tolerance in S. pistillata from the GoA and deviation from the bleaching rule. In a second experiment after 4 weeks at 4 °C above peak summer temperatures, S. pistillata and Acropora eurystoma in the high-light treatment visibly paled and suffered greater midday and afternoon photoinhibition compared to corals under low-light conditions (35% of high-light treatment). However, light, not temperature (alone or in synergy with light), was the dominant factor in causing paling and the effective quantum yield of corals at 4 °C above ambient was indistinguishable from those in the ambient control. This result highlights the exceptional, atypical thermal tolerance of dominant GoA branching corals. Concomitantly, it validates the efficacy of protecting GoA reefs from local stressors if they are to serve as a coral refuge in the face of global sea temperature rise.

  16. The reproductive season of scleractinian corals in Socotra, Yemen [v1; ref status: indexed, http://f1000r.es/36f

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andrew H. Baird

    2014-03-01

    Full Text Available Determining when corals reproduce has clear management and economic implications. Here we document the reproductive condition of corals in the genus Acropora on the island of Socotra in Yemen during February 2014. Twenty percent of colonies (n = 143 contained mature gametes and 28% had immature gametes indicating that spawning will occur in both February and March in 2014, confirming previous anecdotal reports of coral spawning at this time in Socotra. Acropora typically reproduce in synchrony with many other broadcast spawning scleractinian corals, and we therefore predict that many other species are reproductively active at this time of year.

  17. Effect of temperature on two reef-building corals Pocillopora damicornis and P. verrucosa in the Red Sea

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Abdulmohsin A. Al-Sofyani

    2013-11-01

    Full Text Available The effects of temperature on two reef building corals Pocilloporadamicornis and P. verrucosa inhabiting the Obhur Creek, a small embayment on thewestern, Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia, was studied from December 2009 toNovember 2010. The overall annual range of seawater temperature in Obhur Creekwas between 24.5°C and 33°C. Zooxanthellae abundance anddiversity showed seasonal variations: the number of zooxanthellae in P. damicornis was slightly higher than in P. verrucosa, and theabundance of zooxanthellae of both species was low in summer and high duringwinter. The respiration rate of P. verrucosa did not vary between summerand winter, suggesting compensatory acclimation. In contrast, the respiratoryrate in P. damicornis was lower in winter than in summer. During thewinter season the metabolic rate was higher in both species owing to theoptimum seawater temperature (30°C. As a result of the abundance ofzooxanthellae and the optimum seawater temperature, the growth rates of theskeletons of the two coral species were higher in winter and lower in summer.In general, the results showed that P. damicornis is more flexible withrespect to temperature than P. damicornis. The difference inzooxanthellae thermal tolerances at 35°C may be due to the algalgenotypes between the two species, resulting in P. damicornis becomingbleached as the rate of metabolism exceeds the rate of photosynthesis withincreasing temperature.

  18. Establishment of coral-algal symbiosis requires attraction and selection.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Hiroshi Yamashita

    Full Text Available Coral reef ecosystems are based on coral-zooxanthellae symbiosis. During the initiation of symbiosis, majority of corals acquire their own zooxanthellae (specifically from the dinoflagellate genus Symbiodinium from surrounding environments. The mechanisms underlying the initial establishment of symbiosis have attracted much interest, and numerous field and laboratory experiments have been conducted to elucidate this establishment. However, it is still unclear whether the host corals selectively or randomly acquire their symbionts from surrounding environments. To address this issue, we initially compared genetic compositions of Symbiodinium within naturally settled about 2-week-old Acropora coral juveniles (recruits and those in the adjacent seawater as the potential symbiont source. We then performed infection tests using several types of Symbiodinium culture strains and apo-symbiotic (does not have Symbiodinium cells yet Acropora coral larvae. Our field observations indicated apparent preference toward specific Symbiodinium genotypes (A1 and D1-4 within the recruits, despite a rich abundance of other Symbiodinium in the environmental population pool. Laboratory experiments were in accordance with this field observation: Symbiodinium strains of type A1 and D1-4 showed higher infection rates for Acropora larvae than other genotype strains, even when supplied at lower cell densities. Subsequent attraction tests revealed that three Symbiodinium strains were attracted toward Acropora larvae, and within them, only A1 and D1-4 strains were acquired by the larvae. Another three strains did not intrinsically approach to the larvae. These findings suggest the initial establishment of corals-Symbiodinium symbiosis is not random, and the infection mechanism appeared to comprise two steps: initial attraction step and subsequent selective uptake by the coral.

  19. Microscopic observation of symbiotic and aposymbiotic juvenile corals in nutrient-enriched seawater.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tanaka, Yasuaki; Iguchi, Akira; Inoue, Mayuri; Mori, Chiharu; Sakai, Kazuhiko; Suzuki, Atsushi; Kawahata, Hodaka; Nakamura, Takashi

    2013-03-15

    Symbiotic and aposymbiotic juvenile corals, which were grown in the laboratory from the gametes of the scleractinian coral Acropora digitifera and had settled down onto plastic culture plates, were observed with a microscope under different nutrient conditions. The symbiotic corals successfully removed the surrounding benthic microalgae (BMA), whereas the aposymbiotic corals were in close physical contact with BMA. The areal growth rate of the symbiotic corals was significantly higher than that of the aposymbiotic corals. The addition of nutrients to the culture seawater increased the chlorophyll a content in the symbiotic coral polyps and enhanced the growth of some of the symbiotic corals, however the average growth rate was not significantly affected, most likely because of the competition with BMA. The comparison between the symbiotic and aposymbiotic juvenile corals showed that the establishment of a symbiotic association could be imperative for post-settlement juvenile corals to survive in high-nutrient seawater. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  20. Distribution and morphology of growth anomalies in Acropora from the Indo-Pacific

    Science.gov (United States)

    Work, Thierry M.; Aeby, Greta S.; Coles, Steve L.

    2008-01-01

    We assessed the distribution and prevalence of growth anomalies (GAs) in Acropora from French Frigate Shoals (Hawaii, USA), Johnston Atoll and Tutuila (American Samoa), developed a nomenclature for gross morphology, characterized GAs at the cellular level and obtained preliminary indices of their spatial patterns and progression within coral colonies. Acropora GAs were found in all 3 regions, but the distribution, variety and prevalence of Acropora GAs was highest in American Samoa. GAs were grouped into 7 gross morphologies (exophytic, bosselated, crateriform, nodular, vermiform, fimbriate or annular). On histology, GAs consisted of hyperplastic basal body wall (calicodermis, mesoglea and gastrodermis apposed to skeleton) with 3 distinct patterns of necrosis. There was no evidence of anaplasia or mitotic figures (common but not necessarily required morphologic indicators of neoplasia). Compared to normal tissues, GAs had significantly fewer polyps, zooxanthellae within the gastrodermis of the coenenchyme, mesenterial filaments and gonads but significantly more necrosis. On 2 colonies with GAs monitored at 2 points over 11 mo, numbers of GAs per colony increased from 0.9 to 3 times the original number seen, and significant clustering of GAs occurred within colonies. The evidence of GAs being true neoplasias (tumors) is mixed, so a cautionary approach is urged in use of morphologic terminology.

  1. The reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea exhibits parabolic responses to ocean acidification and warming

    OpenAIRE

    Castillo, Karl D.; Ries, Justin B.; Bruno, John F.; Westfield, Isaac T.

    2014-01-01

    Anthropogenic increases in atmospheric CO2 over this century are predicted to cause global average surface ocean pH to decline by 0.1–0.3 pH units and sea surface temperature to increase by 1–4°C. We conducted controlled laboratory experiments to investigate the impacts of CO2-induced ocean acidification (pCO2 = 324, 477, 604, 2553 µatm) and warming (25, 28, 32°C) on the calcification rate of the zooxanthellate scleractinian coral Siderastrea siderea, a widespread, abundant and keystone reef-...

  2. Mucus sugar content shapes the bacterial community structure in thermally stressed Acropora muricata

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Sonny T.M. Lee

    2016-03-01

    Full Text Available It has been proposed that the chemical composition of a coral’s mucus can influence the associated bacterial community. However, information on this topic is rare, and non-existent for corals that are under thermal stress. This study therefore compared the carbohydrate composition of mucus in the coral Acropora muricata when subjected to increasing thermal stress from 26°C to 31°C, and determined whether this composition correlated with any changes in the bacterial community. Results showed that, at lower temperatures, the main components of mucus were N-acetyl glucosamine and C6 sugars, but these constituted a significantly lower proportion of the mucus in thermally-stressed corals. The change in the mucus composition coincided with a shift from a γ-Proteobacteria- to a Verrucomicrobiae- and α-Proteobacteria-dominated community in the coral mucus. Bacteria in the class Cyanobacteria also started to become prominent in the mucus when the coral was thermally stressed. The increase in the relative abundance of the Verrucomicrobiae at higher temperature was strongly associated with a change in the proportion of fucose, glucose and mannose in the mucus. Increase in the relative abundance of α-Proteobacteria were associated with GalNAc and glucose, while the drop in relative abundance of γ-Proteobacteria at high temperature coincided with changes in fucose and mannose. Cyanobacteria were highly associated with arabinose and xylose. Changes in mucus composition and the bacterial community in the mucus layer occurred at 29°C, which were prior to visual signs of coral bleaching at 31°C. A compositional change in the coral mucus, induced by thermal stress could therefore be a key factor leading to a shift in the associated bacterial community. This, in turn, has the potential to impact the physiological function of the coral holobiont.

  3. Response to short term ultraviolet stress in the reef-building coral Pocillopora capitata (Anthozoa: Scleractinia

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Marco A Liñán-Cabello

    2010-03-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are impacted by a range of environmental variables that affect their growth and survival, the main factors being the high irradiance and temperature fluctuations. Specimens of Pocillopora capitata Verrill 1864 were exposed to photosynthetically active radiation (PAR and ultraviolet radiation (UVR for 32h under laboratory conditions. We examined lipid peroxidation (MDA, antioxidant enzyme activities (SOD, CAT, GPx and GST, chlorophyll a (Chl a, carotenoid pigments (CPs, mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs, and expulsion of zooxanthellae. Our results revealed that corals exposed to UVR had relatively low levels of carotenoids and antioxidant enzyme activities compared to those exposed to PAR, as well as lower CPs/Chl a ratios. Although MAAs and CPs are rapidly produced as non-enzymatic antioxidants in response to UVR in corals, these were not sufficient, even in the dark phase of the experiment, to mitigate the damage caused by formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS, which caused breakdown of the symbiotic relationship between the zooxanthellae and the host animal to an extent 33 times greater than in the PAR treatment. In this study, it could be possible to distinguish that, parallel to the short-term adjustments, such as the amount of pigment in the algae or the sensitivity of the photosynthetic response reported in other species of coral, P. capitata exhibits at the enzymatic level a series of responses oriented to resist the effects derived from the propagation of ROS and, thus, to adapt to and maintain its reproductive capacity in shallow oceanic environments that commonly exhibit high UVR levels. Nevertheless, as a result of the inappropriate location of the artificial intercommunication structure of the Juluapan Lagoon with respect to the arrecifal area of study and therefore of the tides influence, other variables, such as the changes in short-term in turbidity, sediment inputs, nutrients, temperature and osmolarity, can act

  4. Shifting white pox aetiologies affecting Acropora palmata in the Florida Keys, 1994-2014.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sutherland, Kathryn P; Berry, Brett; Park, Andrew; Kemp, Dustin W; Kemp, Keri M; Lipp, Erin K; Porter, James W

    2016-03-05

    We propose 'the moving target hypothesis' to describe the aetiology of a contemporary coral disease that differs from that of its historical disease state. Hitting the target with coral disease aetiology is a complex pursuit that requires understanding of host and environment, and may lack a single pathogen solution. White pox disease (WPX) affects the Caribbean coral Acropora palmata. Acroporid serratiosis is a form of WPX for which the bacterial pathogen (Serratia marcescens) has been established. We used long-term (1994-2014) photographic monitoring to evaluate historical and contemporary epizootiology and aetiology of WPX affecting A. palmata at eight reefs in the Florida Keys. Ranges of WPX prevalence over time (0-71.4%) were comparable for the duration of the 20-year study. Whole colony mortality and disease severity were high in historical (1994-2004), and low in contemporary (2008-2014), outbreaks of WPX. Acroporid serratiosis was diagnosed for some historical (1999, 2003) and contemporary (2012, 2013) outbreaks, but this form of WPX was not confirmed for all WPX cases. Our results serve as a context for considering aetiology as a moving target for WPX and other coral diseases for which pathogens are established and/or candidate pathogens are identified. Coral aetiology investigations completed to date suggest that changes in pathogen, host and/or environment alter the disease state and complicate diagnosis. © 2016 The Author(s).

  5. Shifting white pox aetiologies affecting Acropora palmata in the Florida Keys, 1994–2014

    Science.gov (United States)

    Berry, Brett; Park, Andrew; Kemp, Dustin W.; Kemp, Keri M.; Lipp, Erin K.; Porter, James W.

    2016-01-01

    We propose ‘the moving target hypothesis’ to describe the aetiology of a contemporary coral disease that differs from that of its historical disease state. Hitting the target with coral disease aetiology is a complex pursuit that requires understanding of host and environment, and may lack a single pathogen solution. White pox disease (WPX) affects the Caribbean coral Acropora palmata. Acroporid serratiosis is a form of WPX for which the bacterial pathogen (Serratia marcescens) has been established. We used long-term (1994–2014) photographic monitoring to evaluate historical and contemporary epizootiology and aetiology of WPX affecting A. palmata at eight reefs in the Florida Keys. Ranges of WPX prevalence over time (0–71.4%) were comparable for the duration of the 20-year study. Whole colony mortality and disease severity were high in historical (1994–2004), and low in contemporary (2008–2014), outbreaks of WPX. Acroporid serratiosis was diagnosed for some historical (1999, 2003) and contemporary (2012, 2013) outbreaks, but this form of WPX was not confirmed for all WPX cases. Our results serve as a context for considering aetiology as a moving target for WPX and other coral diseases for which pathogens are established and/or candidate pathogens are identified. Coral aetiology investigations completed to date suggest that changes in pathogen, host and/or environment alter the disease state and complicate diagnosis. PMID:26880837

  6. Larval settlement preferences of Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata in response to diverse red algae

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ritson-Williams, R.; Arnold, S. N.; Paul, V. J.; Steneck, R. S.

    2014-03-01

    Settlement specificity can regulate recruitment but remains poorly understood for coral larvae. We studied larvae of the corals, Acropora palmata and Montastraea faveolata, to determine their rates of settlement and metamorphosis in the presence of ten species of red algae, including eight species of crustose coralline algae, one geniculated coralline and one encrusting peyssonnelid. Twenty to forty percent of larvae of A. palmata settled on coralline surfaces of Hydrolithon boergesenii, Lithoporella atlantica, Neogoniolithon affine, and Titanoderma prototypum, whereas none settled and metamorphosed on Neogoniolithon mamillare. Larvae of M. faveolata had 13-25 % settlement onto the surface of Amphiroa tribulus, H. boergesenii, N. affine, N. munitum, and T. prototypum, but had no settlement on the surface of N. mamillare, Porolithon pachydermum, and a noncoralline crust Peyssonnelia sp. Some of these algal species were common on Belizean reefs, but the species that induced the highest rates of larval settlement and metamorphosis tended to be rare and primarily found in low-light environments. The shallow coral, A. palmata, and the deeper coral, M. faveolata, both had increased larval settlement rates in the presence of only a few species of red algae found at deeper depths suggesting that patterns of coral distribution can only sometimes be related to the distribution of red algae species.

  7. Competitive interactions between corals and turf algae depend on coral colony form.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Swierts, Thomas; Vermeij, Mark Ja

    2016-01-01

    Turf algae are becoming more abundant on coral reefs worldwide, but their effects on other benthic organisms remain poorly described. To describe the general characteristics of competitive interactions between corals and turf algae, we determined the occurrence and outcomes of coral-turf algal interactions among different coral growth forms (branching, upright, massive, encrusting, plating, and solitary) on a shallow reef in Vietnam. In total, the amount of turf algal interaction, i.e., the proportion of the coral boundary directly bordering turf algae, was quantified for 1,276 coral colonies belonging to 27 genera and the putative outcome of each interaction was noted. The amount of turf algal interaction and the outcome of these interactions differed predictably among the six growth forms. Encrusting corals interacted most often with turf algae, but also competed most successfully against turf algae. The opposite was observed for branching corals, which rarely interacted with turf algae and rarely won these competitive interactions. Including all other growth forms, a positive relationship was found between the amount of competitive interactions with neighboring turf algae and the percentage of such interaction won by the coral. This growth form dependent ability to outcompete turf algae was not only observed among coral species, but also among different growth forms in morphologically plastic coral genera (Acropora, Favia, Favites, Montastrea, Montipora, Porites) illustrating the general nature of this relationship.

  8. Morphology offers no clues to asexual vs. sexual origin of small Acropora cervicornis (Scleractinia: Acroporidae colonies

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    D. E Williams

    2006-12-01

    Full Text Available Sexual recruitment of the staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, is accepted to be very rare. Instead, these branching corals proliferate through fragmentation leading to dense mono-specific and possibly monoclonal stands. For acroporid corals, which have suffered drastic population declines, dominance of asexual reproduction results in low levels of genotypic diversity and limited ability to re-colonize extirpated areas. Small colonies with a single encrusting, symmetrical base, and few incipient branches are frequently presumed to be the result of a settled planula (i.e. sexual reproduction. Here, we show that colonies fitting this description (i.e., presumed sexual recruits can result from asexual fragmentation. Acropora cervicornis colonies (~20 cm diameter were tagged and observed over eighteen months. In several cases, colony offshoots fused with the adjacent substrate forming secondary disc-like attachment points. Following natural fragmentation, these discs of tissue became separated from the original colony, and were observed to heal and give rise to smaller colonies with striking similarity to the expected morphology of a sexual recruit. Thus, presuming a colony is a sexual recruit based on appearance is unreliable and may lead to inflated expectations of genetic diversity among populations. The accurate assessment of recruitment and genetic diversity is crucial to predicting the recovery potential of these imperiled and ecologically irreplaceable reef corals. Rev. Biol. Trop. 54 (Suppl. 3: 145-151. Epub 2007 Jan. 15.Se ha aceptado que el reclutamiento sexual del coral asta de venado, Acropora cervicornis, es muy raro. Por el contrario, estos corales ramificados proliferan a través de fragmentación, generando densas bases monoespecíficas e incluso monoclonales. Para corales acropóridos, los cuales han sufrido disminuciones de población drásticas, la dominancia de reproducción asexual resulta en bajos niveles de diversidad genot

  9. Physical and mechanical properties evaluation of Acropora palmata coralline species for bone substitution applications.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Alvarez, K; Camero, S; Alarcón, M E; Rivas, A; González, G

    2002-05-01

    The search for ideal materials for bone substitution has been a challenge for many decades. Numerous natural and synthetic materials have been studied. For this application, exoskeletons of coral have been considered a good alternative given its tendency to resorption, biocompatibility and similarity to the mineral bone phase. Very few studies of these materials consider a detailed analysis of the structure-property relationship. The purpose of this work was to carry out the microstructural characterization of a coralline species named Acropora palmata and the determination of the mechanical and physico-chemical properties. Measurements of hardness, compressive strength, bulk density and apparent porosity were performed. From these results it was determined that this marine coral species could be an alternative xenograft due to its mechanical properties and osteoconductive nature.

  10. Exploring the role of Micronesian islands in the maintenance of coral genetic diversity in the Pacific Ocean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Davies, S W; Treml, E A; Kenkel, C D; Matz, M V

    2015-01-01

    Understanding how genetic diversity is maintained across patchy marine environments remains a fundamental problem in marine biology. The Coral Triangle, located in the Indo-West Pacific, is the centre of marine biodiversity and has been proposed as an important source of genetic diversity for remote Pacific reefs. Several studies highlight Micronesia, a scattering of hundreds of small islands situated within the North Equatorial Counter Current, as a potentially important migration corridor. To test this hypothesis, we characterized the population genetic structure of two ecologically important congeneric species of reef-building corals across greater Micronesia, from Palau to the Marshall Islands. Genetic divergences between islands followed an isolation-by-distance pattern, with Acropora hyacinthus exhibiting greater genetic divergences than A. digitifera, suggesting different migration capabilities or different effective population sizes for these closely related species. We inferred dispersal distance using a biophysical larval transport model, which explained an additional 15-21% of the observed genetic variation compared to between-island geographical distance alone. For both species, genetic divergence accumulates and genetic diversity diminishes with distance from the Coral Triangle, supporting the hypothesis that Micronesian islands act as important stepping stones connecting the central Pacific with the species-rich Coral Triangle. However, for A. hyacinthus, the species with lower genetic connectivity, immigration from the subequatorial Pacific begins to play a larger role in shaping diversity than input from the Coral Triangle. This work highlights the enormous dispersal potential of broadcast-spawning corals and identifies the biological and physical drivers that influence coral genetic diversity on a regional scale. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  11. Sequencing and de novo analysis of a coral larval transcriptome using 454 GSFlx

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Colbourne John K

    2009-05-01

    Full Text Available Abstract Background New methods are needed for genomic-scale analysis of emerging model organisms that exemplify important biological questions but lack fully sequenced genomes. For example, there is an urgent need to understand the potential for corals to adapt to climate change, but few molecular resources are available for studying these processes in reef-building corals. To facilitate genomics studies in corals and other non-model systems, we describe methods for transcriptome sequencing using 454, as well as strategies for assembling a useful catalog of genes from the output. We have applied these methods to sequence the transcriptome of planulae larvae from the coral Acropora millepora. Results More than 600,000 reads produced in a single 454 sequencing run were assembled into ~40,000 contigs with five-fold average sequencing coverage. Based on sequence similarity with known proteins, these analyses identified ~11,000 different genes expressed in a range of conditions including thermal stress and settlement induction. Assembled sequences were annotated with gene names, conserved domains, and Gene Ontology terms. Targeted searches using these annotations identified the majority of genes associated with essential metabolic pathways and conserved signaling pathways, as well as novel candidate genes for stress-related processes. Comparisons with the genome of the anemone Nematostella vectensis revealed ~8,500 pairs of orthologs and ~100 candidate coral-specific genes. More than 30,000 SNPs were detected in the coral sequences, and a subset of these validated by re-sequencing. Conclusion The methods described here for deep sequencing of the transcriptome should be widely applicable to generate catalogs of genes and genetic markers in emerging model organisms. Our data provide the most comprehensive sequence resource currently available for reef-building corals, and include an extensive collection of potential genetic markers for association and

  12. Potential costs of acclimatization to a warmer climate: growth of a reef coral with heat tolerant vs. sensitive symbiont types.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Alison Jones

    Full Text Available One of the principle ways in which reef building corals are likely to cope with a warmer climate is by changing to more thermally tolerant endosymbiotic algae (zooxanthellae genotypes. It is highly likely that hosting a more heat-tolerant algal genotype will be accompanied by tradeoffs in the physiology of the coral. To better understand one of these tradeoffs, growth was investigated in the Indo-Pacific reef-building coral Acropora millepora in both the laboratory and the field. In the Keppel Islands in the southern Great Barrier Reef this species naturally harbors nrDNA ITS1 thermally sensitive type C2 or thermally tolerant type D zooxanthellae of the genus Symbiodinium and can change dominant type following bleaching. We show that under controlled conditions, corals with type D symbionts grow 29% slower than those with type C2 symbionts. In the field, type D colonies grew 38% slower than C2 colonies. These results demonstrate the magnitude of trade-offs likely to be experienced by this species as they acclimatize to warmer conditions by changing to more thermally tolerant type D zooxanthellae. Irrespective of symbiont genotype, corals were affected to an even greater degree by the stress of a bleaching event which reduced growth by more than 50% for up to 18 months compared to pre-bleaching rates. The processes of symbiont change and acute thermal stress are likely to act in concert on coral growth as reefs acclimatize to more stressful warmer conditions, further compromising their regeneration capacity following climate change.

  13. Potential Costs of Acclimatization to a Warmer Climate: Growth of a Reef Coral with Heat Tolerant vs. Sensitive Symbiont Types

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jones, Alison; Berkelmans, Ray

    2010-01-01

    One of the principle ways in which reef building corals are likely to cope with a warmer climate is by changing to more thermally tolerant endosymbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) genotypes. It is highly likely that hosting a more heat-tolerant algal genotype will be accompanied by tradeoffs in the physiology of the coral. To better understand one of these tradeoffs, growth was investigated in the Indo-Pacific reef-building coral Acropora millepora in both the laboratory and the field. In the Keppel Islands in the southern Great Barrier Reef this species naturally harbors nrDNA ITS1 thermally sensitive type C2 or thermally tolerant type D zooxanthellae of the genus Symbiodinium and can change dominant type following bleaching. We show that under controlled conditions, corals with type D symbionts grow 29% slower than those with type C2 symbionts. In the field, type D colonies grew 38% slower than C2 colonies. These results demonstrate the magnitude of trade-offs likely to be experienced by this species as they acclimatize to warmer conditions by changing to more thermally tolerant type D zooxanthellae. Irrespective of symbiont genotype, corals were affected to an even greater degree by the stress of a bleaching event which reduced growth by more than 50% for up to 18 months compared to pre-bleaching rates. The processes of symbiont change and acute thermal stress are likely to act in concert on coral growth as reefs acclimatize to more stressful warmer conditions, further compromising their regeneration capacity following climate change. PMID:20454653

  14. Potential costs of acclimatization to a warmer climate: growth of a reef coral with heat tolerant vs. sensitive symbiont types.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jones, Alison; Berkelmans, Ray

    2010-05-03

    One of the principle ways in which reef building corals are likely to cope with a warmer climate is by changing to more thermally tolerant endosymbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) genotypes. It is highly likely that hosting a more heat-tolerant algal genotype will be accompanied by tradeoffs in the physiology of the coral. To better understand one of these tradeoffs, growth was investigated in the Indo-Pacific reef-building coral Acropora millepora in both the laboratory and the field. In the Keppel Islands in the southern Great Barrier Reef this species naturally harbors nrDNA ITS1 thermally sensitive type C2 or thermally tolerant type D zooxanthellae of the genus Symbiodinium and can change dominant type following bleaching. We show that under controlled conditions, corals with type D symbionts grow 29% slower than those with type C2 symbionts. In the field, type D colonies grew 38% slower than C2 colonies. These results demonstrate the magnitude of trade-offs likely to be experienced by this species as they acclimatize to warmer conditions by changing to more thermally tolerant type D zooxanthellae. Irrespective of symbiont genotype, corals were affected to an even greater degree by the stress of a bleaching event which reduced growth by more than 50% for up to 18 months compared to pre-bleaching rates. The processes of symbiont change and acute thermal stress are likely to act in concert on coral growth as reefs acclimatize to more stressful warmer conditions, further compromising their regeneration capacity following climate change.

  15. Anthropogenic mortality on coral reefs in Caribbean Panama predates coral disease and bleaching.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cramer, Katie L; Jackson, Jeremy B C; Angioletti, Christopher V; Leonard-Pingel, Jill; Guilderson, Thomas P

    2012-06-01

    Caribbean reef corals have declined precipitously since the 1980s due to regional episodes of bleaching, disease and algal overgrowth, but the extent of earlier degradation due to localised historical disturbances such as land clearing and overfishing remains unresolved. We analysed coral and molluscan fossil assemblages from reefs near Bocas del Toro, Panama to construct a timeline of ecological change from the 19th century-present. We report large changes before 1960 in coastal lagoons coincident with extensive deforestation, and after 1960 on offshore reefs. Striking changes include the demise of previously dominant staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis and oyster Dendrostrea frons that lives attached to gorgonians and staghorn corals. Reductions in bivalve size and simplification of gastropod trophic structure further implicate increasing environmental stress on reefs. Our paleoecological data strongly support the hypothesis, from extensive qualitative data, that Caribbean reef degradation predates coral bleaching and disease outbreaks linked to anthropogenic climate change. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.

  16. Viruses: agents of coral disease?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Davy, S K; Burchett, S G; Dale, A L; Davies, P; Davy, J E; Muncke, C; Hoegh-Guldberg, O; Wilson, W H

    2006-03-23

    The potential role of viruses in coral disease has only recently begun to receive attention. Here we describe our attempts to determine whether viruses are present in thermally stressed corals Pavona danai, Acropora formosa and Stylophora pistillata and zoanthids Zoanthus sp., and their zooxanthellae. Heat-shocked P. danai, A. formosa and Zoanthus sp. all produced numerous virus-like particles (VLPs) that were evident in the animal tissue, zooxanthellae and the surrounding seawater; VLPs were also seen around heat-shocked freshly isolated zooxanthellae (FIZ) from P. danai and S. pistillata. The most commonly seen VLPs were tail-less, hexagonal and about 40 to 50 nm in diameter, though a diverse range of other VLP morphotypes (e.g. rounded, rod-shaped, droplet-shaped, filamentous) were also present around corals. When VLPs around heat-shocked FIZ from S. pistillata were added to non-stressed FIZ from this coral, they resulted in cell lysis, suggesting that an infectious agent was present; however, analysis with transmission electron microscopy provided no clear evidence of viral infection. The release of diverse VLPs was again apparent when flow cytometry was used to enumerate release by heat-stressed A. formosa nubbins. Our data support the infection of reef corals by viruses, though we cannot yet determine the precise origin (i.e. coral, zooxanthellae and/or surface microbes) of the VLPs seen. Furthermore, genome sequence data are required to establish the presence of viruses unequivocally.

  17. Mass coral bleaching in the northern Persian Gulf, 2012

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Javid Kavousi

    2014-09-01

    Full Text Available Coral bleaching events due to elevated temperatures are increasing in both frequency and magnitude worldwide. Mass bleaching was recorded at five sites in the northern Persian Gulf during August and September 2012. Based on available seawater temperature data from field, satellite and previous studies, we suggest that the coral bleaching threshold temperature in the northern Persian Gulf is between 33.5 and 34°C, which is about 1.5 to 2.5°C lower than that in the southern part. To assess the bleaching effects, coral genera counted during 60-minute dives were categorized into four groups including healthy, slightly bleached ( 50% bleached tissue and fully bleached colonies. The anomalously high sea surface temperature resulted in massive coral bleaching (~84% coral colonies affected. Acropora spp. colonies, which are known as the most vulnerable corals to thermal stress, were less affected by the bleaching than massive corals, such as Porites, which are among the most thermo-tolerant corals. Turbid waters, suggested as coral refugia against global warming, did not protect corals in this study since most affected corals were found in the most turbid waters. The 2012 bleaching in the northern Persian Gulf was relatively strong from the viewpoint of coral bleaching severity. Long-term monitoring is needed to understand the actual consequences of the bleaching event on the coral reefs and communities.

  18. The Biology and Economics of Coral Growth

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Osinga, R.; Schutter, M.; Griffioen, B.; Wijffels, R.H.; Verreth, J.A.J.; Shafit, S.; Henard, S.; Taruffi, M.; Gili, C.; Lavorano, S.

    2011-01-01

    To protect natural coral reefs, it is of utmost importance to understand how the growth of the main reef-building organisms-the zooxanthellate scleractinian corals-is controlled. Understanding coral growth is also relevant for coral aquaculture, which is a rapidly developing business. This review

  19. Genet-specific spawning patterns in Acropora palmata

    Science.gov (United States)

    Miller, M. W.; Williams, D. E.; Fisch, J.

    2016-12-01

    The broadcast spawning elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, requires outcrossing among different genets for effective fertilization. Hence, a low density of genets in parts of its range emphasizes the need for precise synchrony among neighboring genets as sperm concentration dilutes rapidly in open-ocean conditions. We documented the genet-specific nightly occurrence of spawning of A. palmata over 8 yr in a depauperate population in the Florida Keys to better understand this potential reproductive hurdle. The observed population failed to spawn within the predicted monthly window (nights 2-6 after the full moon in August) in three of the 8 yr of observation; negligible spawning was observed in a fourth year. Moreover, genet-specific patterns are evident in that (1) certain genets have significantly greater odds of spawning overall and (2) certain genets predictably spawn on the earlier and others on the later lunar nights within the predicted window. Given the already low genet density in this population, this pattern implies a substantial degree of wasted reproductive effort and supports the hypothesis that depensatory factors are impairing recovery in this species.

  20. First record of multi-species synchronous coral spawning from Malaysia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chelliah, Alvin; Amar, Halimi Bin; Hyde, Julian; Yewdall, Katie; Steinberg, Peter D; Guest, James R

    2015-01-01

    Knowledge about the timing and synchrony of coral spawning has important implications for both the ecology and management of coral reef ecosystems. Data on the timing of spawning and extent of synchrony, however, are still lacking for many coral reefs, particularly from equatorial regions and from locations within the coral triangle. Here we present the first documentation of a multi-species coral spawning event from reefs around Pulau Tioman, Peninsular Malaysia, a popular diving and tourist destination located on the edge of the coral triangle. At least 8 coral species from 3 genera (Acropora, Montipora and Porites) participated in multi-species spawning over five nights in April 2014, between two nights before and two nights after the full moon. In addition, two Acropora species were witnessed spawning one night prior to the full moon in October 2014. While two of the Acropora species that reproduced in April (A. millepora and A. nasuta) exhibited highly synchronous spawning (100% of sampled colonies), two other common species (A. hyacinthus and A. digitifera) did not contain visible eggs in the majority of colonies sampled (i.e., Malaysia. These data provide further support for the contention that this phenomenon is a feature of all speciose coral assemblages, including equatorial reefs. More research is needed, however, to determine the seasonal cycles and extent of spawning synchrony on these reefs and elsewhere in Malaysia.

  1. Isotopic composition of skeleton-bound organic nitrogen in reef-building symbiotic corals: A new method and proxy evaluation at Bermuda

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wang, X. T.; Sigman, D. M.; Cohen, A. L.; Sinclair, D. J.; Sherrell, R. M.; Weigand, M. A.; Erler, D. V.; Ren, H.

    2015-01-01

    The skeleton-bound organic nitrogen in reef-building symbiotic corals may be a high-resolution archive of ocean nitrogen cycle dynamics and a tool for understanding coral biogeochemistry and physiological processes. However, the existing methods for measuring the isotopic composition of coral skeleton-bound organic nitrogen (hereafter, CS-δ15N) either require too much skeleton material or have low precision, limiting the applications of this relatively new proxy. In addition, the controlling factors on CS-δ15N remain poorly understood: the δ15N of source nitrogen and the internal nitrogen cycle of the coral/zooxanthellae symbiosis may both be important. Here, we describe a new ("persulfate/denitrifier"-based) method for measuring CS-δ15N, requiring only 5 mg of skeleton material and yielding a long-term precision better than 0.2‰ (1σ). Using this new method, we investigate CS-δ15N at Bermuda. Ten modern Diploria labyrinthiformis coral cores/colonies from 4 sampling sites were measured for CS-δ15N. Nitrogen concentrations (nitrate + nitrite, ammonium, and dissolved organic nitrogen) and δ15N of plankton were also measured at these coral sites. Among the 4 sampling sites, CS-δ15N shows an increase with proximity to the island, from ∼3.8‰ to ∼6.8‰ vs. atmospheric N2, with the northern offshore site having a CS-δ15N 1-2‰ higher than the δ15N of thermocline nitrate in the surrounding Sargasso Sea. Two annually resolved CS-δ15N time series suggest that the offshore-inshore CS-δ15N gradient has persisted since at least the 1970s. Plankton δ15N among these 4 sites also has an inshore increase, but of only ∼1‰. Coral physiological change must explain the remaining (∼2‰) inshore increase in CS-δ15N, and previous work points to the coral/zooxanthellae N cycle as a control on host tissue (and thus carbonate skeletal) δ15N. The CS-δ15N gradient is hypothesized to result mainly from varying efficiency in the internal nitrogen recycling of the

  2. Life on the edge: corals in mangroves and climate change

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, Caroline S.; Herlan, James J.

    2012-01-01

    Coral diseases have played a major role in the degradation of coral reefs in the Caribbean, including those in the US Virgin Islands (USVI). In 2005, bleaching affected reefs throughout the Caribbean, and was especially severe on USVI reefs. Some corals began to regain their color as water temperatures cooled, but an outbreak of disease (primarily white plague) led to losses of over 60% of the total live coral cover. Montastraea annularis, the most abundant coral, was disproportionately affected, and decreased in relative abundance. The threatened species Acropora palmata bleached for the first time on record in the USVI but suffered less bleaching and less mortality from disease than M. annularis. Acropora palmata and M. annularis are the two most significant species in the USVI because of their structural role in the architecture of the reefs, the large size of their colonies, and their complex morphology. The future of the USVI reefs depends largely on their fate. Acropora palmata is more likely to recover than M. annularis for many reasons, including its faster growth rate, and its lower vulnerability to bleaching and disease.

  3. The Effects of Temperature and CO2-induced Acidification on Skeletal Morphology of the Tropical Reef-building Coral Siderastrea siderea

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cobleigh, K.

    2016-02-01

    Coral reefs are threatened by increasing sea surface temperatures and decreasing surface seawater pH. Although numerous experimental studies have examined the effects of these global scale stressors on corals, few have quantified the effects of temperature and acidification on coral skeletal morphology. We conducted controlled laboratory experiments to investigate the effects of temperature (25, 28, 32°C) and CO2-induced ocean acidification (pCO2 = 324, 477, 604, 2553 µatm) on skeletal morphology of the highly resilient Caribbean reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea over a 95-day interval. Post-treatment S. siderea corallites from nearshore, backreef, and forereef colonies were imaged via stereo microscopy to evaluate impact of warming and acidification on corallite height and infilling. Both an increase and decrease in temperature relative to the control (i.e., near-present-day temperatures) resulted in increased corallite height but decreased skeletal infilling. In contrast, corals reared under the lowest (i.e., pre-industrial) and highest pCO2 treatments (i.e., extreme pCO2) exhibited both decreased corallite height and skeletal infilling relative to the control. We observed no difference in corallite height or infilling across reef zones, either within or across treatments. Interestingly, the warming projected for the end of the 21st century (32°C) resulted in increased corallite height and reduced corallite infilling. Acidification projected for the same interval (pCO2 = 604 µatm) also resulted in increased corallite height and decreased infilling. Collectively, our results suggest that these two global stressors will result in S. siderea corallites that are taller yet less infilled by the end of the 21st century. Changes in S. siderea arising from warming and acificiation may exacerbate observed declines in coral health across Caribbean reef systems.

  4. Enhanced susceptibility to predation in corals of compromised condition

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Allan J. Bright

    2015-09-01

    Full Text Available The marine gastropod, Coralliophila abbreviata, is an obligate corallivore that causes substantial mortality in Caribbean Acropora spp. Considering the imperiled status of Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, a better understanding of ecological interactions resulting in tissue loss may enable more effective conservation strategies. We examined differences in susceptibility of A. cervicornis to C. abbreviata predation based on coral tissue condition. Coral tissue condition was a strong determinant of snail prey choice, with snails preferring A. cervicornis fragments that were diseased or mechanically damaged over healthy fragments. In addition, snails always chose fragments undergoing active predation by another snail, while showing no preference for a non-feeding snail when compared with an undisturbed prey fragment. These results indicate that the condition of A. cervicornis prey influenced foraging behavior of C. abbreviata, creating a potential feedback that may exacerbate damage from predation in coral populations compromised by other types of disturbance.

  5. Enhanced susceptibility to predation in corals of compromised condition.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bright, Allan J; Cameron, Caitlin M; Miller, Margaret W

    2015-01-01

    The marine gastropod, Coralliophila abbreviata, is an obligate corallivore that causes substantial mortality in Caribbean Acropora spp. Considering the imperiled status of Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata, a better understanding of ecological interactions resulting in tissue loss may enable more effective conservation strategies. We examined differences in susceptibility of A. cervicornis to C. abbreviata predation based on coral tissue condition. Coral tissue condition was a strong determinant of snail prey choice, with snails preferring A. cervicornis fragments that were diseased or mechanically damaged over healthy fragments. In addition, snails always chose fragments undergoing active predation by another snail, while showing no preference for a non-feeding snail when compared with an undisturbed prey fragment. These results indicate that the condition of A. cervicornis prey influenced foraging behavior of C. abbreviata, creating a potential feedback that may exacerbate damage from predation in coral populations compromised by other types of disturbance.

  6. Effects of temperature and UVR on organic matter fluxes and the metabolic activity of Acropora muricata

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Lucile Courtial

    2017-08-01

    Full Text Available Coral bleaching events are predicted to occur more frequently in the coming decades with global warming. The susceptibility of corals to bleaching during thermal stress episodes depends on many factors, including the magnitude of thermal stress and irradiance. The interactions among these two factors, and in particular with ultra-violet radiation (UVR, the most harmful component of light, are more complex than assumed, and are not yet well understood. This paper explores the individual and combined effects of temperature and UVR on the metabolism of Acropora muricata, one of the most abundant coral species worldwide. Particulate and dissolved organic matter (POM/DOM fluxes and organic matter (OM degradation by the mucus-associated bacteria were also monitored in all conditions. The results show that UVR exposure exacerbated the temperature-induced bleaching, but did not affect OM fluxes, which were only altered by seawater warming. Temperature increase induced a shift from POM release and DOM uptake in healthy corals to POM uptake and DOM release in stressed ones. POM uptake was linked to a significant grazing of pico- and nanoplankton particles during the incubation, to fulfil the energetic requirements of A. muricata in the absence of autotrophy. Finally, OM degradation by mucus-associated bacterial activity was unaffected by UVR exposure, but significantly increased under high temperature. Altogether, our results demonstrate that seawater warming and UVR not only affect coral physiology, but also the way corals interact with the surrounding seawater, with potential consequences for coral reef biogeochemical cycles and food webs.

  7. Trend in coral-algal phase shift in the Mandapam group of islands, Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve, India

    Science.gov (United States)

    Machendiranathan, M.; Senthilnathan, L.; Ranith, R.; Saravanakumar, A.; Thangaradjou, T.; Choudhry, S. B.; Sasamal, S. K.

    2016-12-01

    The present study revealed proliferation of macro-algae modifying coral reef ecosystems in a different manner due to diseases and sedimentations in the Mandapam group of islands in the Gulf of Mannar. Benthic surveys were conducted with major attack of seven coral reefs diseases with high sedimentation rate, nine species of fleshy macro-algae ( Turbinaria ornata, Turbinaria conaides, Caulerpa scalpelliformis, Caulerpa racemosa, Kappaphycus alvarezii, Padina gymnosphora, Sargassum wightii, Ulva reticulata and Calurpa lentillifera) proliferation against major corals life forms (Acropora branching, Acropora digitate, Acropora tabulate, coral massive, coral submassive, coral foliose and coral encrusting). The results confirm that diseased corals most favor to macro-algae growth (15.27%) rather than the sedimentation covered corals (8.24 %). In the degradation of coral life forms, massive corals were more highly damaged (7.05%) than any other forms. Within a short period of time (May to September), coral coverage shrank to 17.4% from 21.9%, macro-algae increased 23.51% and the average sedimentation rate attained 77.52 mg cm-2d-1 with persisting coral reef diseases of 17.59%. The Pearson correlation showed that the coral cover decreased with increasing macro-algae growth, which was statistically significant ( r = -0.774, n = 100, P K. alvarezii, P. gymnosphora and C. lentillifera increased with percentages of 6.0, 5.8, 5.7, 4.9, 4.2, 3.7, 2.7 and 1.9, respectively. If this trend continues, the next generation of new recruit corals will undoubtedly lead to a phase shift in Gulf of Mannar corals.

  8. Invertebrados asociados al coral constructor de arrecifes Pocillopora damicornis en Playa Blanca, Bahía Culebra, Costa Rica Invertebrates associated with the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis at Playa Blanca, Bahía Culebra, Costa Rica

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Juan José Alvarado

    2012-04-01

    , y por ende en las funciones que estos desempeñan en este ecosistema.Invertebrates associated with the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis at Playa Blanca, Bahía Culebra, Costa Rica. The coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems in the planet, not only because their reef-building species but also because of the species that live above, on, inside and below them. Corals of the genus Pocillopora are recognized globally by harboring an important fauna of invertebrates among their branches, many of those considered obligate symbionts. The present investigation describes the fauna of invertebrates associated with the reef-building coral P. damicornis in Bahía Culebra, Costa Rica, their densities, frequencies, richness and diversities from 2003 to 2004. Five coral colonies were collected every 3-4 months at Playa Blanca within Bahía Culebra. A total of 448 individuals in 35 species were found: Harpiliopsis depressa, Trapezia ferruginea, Alpheus lottini, Fennera chacei, and Petrolisthes haigae, and the bivalve Lithophaga aristata, the predominant species. November was the month with the highest richness, diversity and taxonomic distinctiveness, while August had the lowest values. In general terms, the rainy season showed greater richness of species than the dry season. The species collected and their densities and abundances were similar to other sites along the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Bahía Culebra has been losing coral cover, which could have consequences on the diversity and abundances of associated corals organisms. These consequences include loss in the fertility of those organisms, a reduction in its function as cleaners and protection from coral predators, putting in risk their diversity, affecting the stocks of predatory fish that depends on them. Carrying out permanent monitoring of the associated cryptofauna of the coral Pocillopora is crucial to quantify losses or recoveries in the composition of associated invertebrates, and therefore in

  9. Next-century ocean acidification and warming both reduce calcification rate, but only acidification alters skeletal morphology of reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Horvath, Kimmaree M; Castillo, Karl D; Armstrong, Pualani; Westfield, Isaac T; Courtney, Travis; Ries, Justin B

    2016-07-29

    Atmospheric pCO2 is predicted to rise from 400 to 900 ppm by year 2100, causing seawater temperature to increase by 1-4 °C and pH to decrease by 0.1-0.3. Sixty-day experiments were conducted to investigate the independent and combined impacts of acidification (pCO2 = 424-426, 888-940 ppm-v) and warming (T = 28, 32 °C) on calcification rate and skeletal morphology of the abundant and widespread Caribbean reef-building scleractinian coral Siderastrea siderea. Hierarchical linear mixed-effects modelling reveals that coral calcification rate was negatively impacted by both warming and acidification, with their combined effects yielding the most deleterious impact. Negative effects of warming (32 °C/424 ppm-v) and high-temperature acidification (32 °C/940 ppm-v) on calcification rate were apparent across both 30-day intervals of the experiment, while effects of low-temperature acidification (28 °C/888 ppm-v) were not apparent until the second 30-day interval-indicating delayed onset of acidification effects at lower temperatures. Notably, two measures of coral skeletal morphology-corallite height and corallite infilling-were negatively impacted by next-century acidification, but not by next-century warming. Therefore, while next-century ocean acidification and warming will reduce the rate at which corals build their skeletons, next-century acidification will also modify the morphology and, potentially, function of coral skeletons.

  10. The MicroRNA Repertoire of Symbiodinium, the Dinoflagellate Symbiont of Reef-Building Corals

    KAUST Repository

    Baumgarten, Sebastian

    2013-07-01

    Animal and plant genomes produce numerous small RNAs (smRNAs) that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally affecting metabolism, development, and epigenetic inheritance. In order to characterize the repertoire of endogenous microRNAs and potential gene targets, we conducted smRNA and mRNA expression profiling over nine experimental treatments of cultures from the dinoflagellate Symbiodinium sp. A1, a photosynthetic symbiont of scleractinian corals. We identified a total of 75 novel smRNAs in Symbiodinum sp. A1 that share stringent key features with functional microRNAs from other model organisms. A subset of 38 smRNAs was predicted independently over all nine treatments and their putative gene targets were identified. We found 3,187 animal-like target sites in the 3’UTRs of 12,858 mRNAs and 53 plantlike target sites in 51,917 genes. Furthermore, we identified the core RNAi protein machinery in Symbiodinium. Integration of smRNA and mRNA expression profiling identified a variety of processes that could be under microRNA control, e.g. regulation of translation, DNA modification, and chromatin silencing. Given that Symbiodinium seems to have a paucity of transcription factors and differentially expressed genes, identification and characterization of its smRNA repertoire establishes the possibility of a range of gene regulatory mechanisms in dinoflagellates acting post-transcriptionally.

  11. Preliminary geochemical results of corals from the Puerto Morelos Reef, Southeastern Mexico

    Science.gov (United States)

    Marquez, N.; Kasper, J.

    2012-04-01

    A microprobe (MB), major, trace and rare earth elements (REE) analyses were carried out in three coral species Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis and Gorgonia ventalina at Puerto Morelos, Reef, Southeastern Mexico. This was done to assess the degree in which the corals developed under the different chemical-physical natural and artificial conditions. The corals were cut at the top and middle and based upon the observations by using the MB analysis, results showed the highest concentrations of Ag, Cu, Cr, Ni, S, Sr, Zn y Zr in Gorgonia Ventalina suggesting an impact coming from the industrial discharges and/or rusting of boats in the area. The results of X-ray fluorescence analysis for major and trace elements showed that the Fe , Sr and Zr increase their content in the skeletons of Acropora palmata y Gorgonia ventalina also asociated with the presence of human activity since the area is composed mainly by carbonate source sediments. The rare earth elements (REE) analysis showed that the negative anomaly of Ce suggests a well oxygenated, highly oxidative modern shallow waters, and high nutrients related to suspended matter for Acropora Palmata, Acropora cervicornis y Gorgonia ventalina, The Positive Eu anomaly in the corals are due to the development of the reef linked to the concentration of waters enriched in La. The Nd/Yb ratio indicates a shallow water development for the corals. This is also supported by the Ce/Ce* vs. Pr/Pr* ratios that indicate shallow marine waters in the development of the three corals studied (Ce*= 0.5La+0.5Pr and Pr*= 0.5Ce+0.5Nd). Enrichment of heavy rare earth elements (Gd-Lu) in the corals may be associated with high pH values and CO, OH- ions in the sea water.

  12. Some Physical, Chemical, and Biological Parameters of Samples of Scleractinium Coral Aquaculture Skeleton Used for Reconstruction/Engineering of the Bone Tissue.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Popov, A A; Sergeeva, N S; Britaev, T A; Komlev, V S; Sviridova, I K; Kirsanova, V A; Akhmedova, S A; Dgebuadze, P Yu; Teterina, A Yu; Kuvshinova, E A; Schanskii, Ya D

    2015-08-01

    Physical and chemical (phase and chemical composition, dynamics of resorption, and strength properties), and biological (cytological compatibility and scaffold properties of the surface) properties of samples of scleractinium coral skeletons from aquacultures of three types and corresponding samples of natural coral skeletons (Pocillopora verrucosa, Acropora formosa, and Acropora nobilis) were studied. Samples of scleractinium coral aquaculture skeleton of A. nobilis, A. formosa, and P. verrucosa met the requirements (all study parameters) to materials for osteoplasty and 3D-scaffolds for engineering of bone tissue.

  13. Colony-specific investigations reveal highly variable responses among individual corals to ocean acidification and warming.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kavousi, Javid; Reimer, James Davis; Tanaka, Yasuaki; Nakamura, Takashi

    2015-08-01

    As anthropogenic climate change is an ongoing concern, scientific investigations on its impacts on coral reefs are increasing. Although impacts of combined ocean acidification (OA) and temperature stress (T) on reef-building scleractinian corals have been studied at the genus, species and population levels, there are little data available on how individual corals respond to combined OA and anomalous temperatures. In this study, we exposed individual colonies of Acropora digitifera, Montipora digitata and Porites cylindrica to four pCO2-temperature treatments including 400 μatm-28 °C, 400 μatm-31 °C, 1000 μatm-28 °C and 1000 μatm-31 °C for 26 days. Physiological parameters including calcification, protein content, maximum photosynthetic efficiency, Symbiodinium density, and chlorophyll content along with Symbiodinium type of each colony were examined. Along with intercolonial responses, responses of individual colonies versus pooled data to the treatments were investigated. The main results were: 1) responses to either OA or T or their combination were different between individual colonies when considering physiological functions; 2) tolerance to either OA or T was not synonymous with tolerance to the other parameter; 3) tolerance to both OA and T did not necessarily lead to tolerance of OA and T combined (OAT) at the same time; 4) OAT had negative, positive or no impacts on physiological functions of coral colonies; and 5) pooled data were not representative of responses of all individual colonies. Indeed, the pooled data obscured actual responses of individual colonies or presented a response that was not observed in any individual. From the results of this study we recommend improving experimental designs of studies investigating physiological responses of corals to climate change by complementing them with colony-specific examinations. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  14. Location-specific responses to thermal stress in larvae of the reef-building coral Montastraea faveolata.

    KAUST Repository

    Polato, Nicholas R; Voolstra, Christian R.; Schnetzer, Julia; DeSalvo, Michael K; Randall, Carly J; Szmant, Alina M; Medina, Mó nica; Baums, Iliana B

    2010-01-01

    The potential to adapt to a changing climate depends in part upon the standing genetic variation present in wild populations. In corals, the dispersive larval phase is particularly vulnerable to the effects of environmental stress. Larval survival and response to stress during dispersal and settlement will play a key role in the persistence of coral populations.

  15. Location-specific responses to thermal stress in larvae of the reef-building coral Montastraea faveolata.

    KAUST Repository

    Polato, Nicholas R

    2010-06-23

    The potential to adapt to a changing climate depends in part upon the standing genetic variation present in wild populations. In corals, the dispersive larval phase is particularly vulnerable to the effects of environmental stress. Larval survival and response to stress during dispersal and settlement will play a key role in the persistence of coral populations.

  16. The ecotoxicology of vegetable versus mineral based lubricating oils 3. Coral fertilization and adult corals

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Mercurio, Philip; Negri, Andrew P.; Burns, Kathryn A.; Heyward, Andrew J.

    2004-01-01

    Biodegradable vegetable-derived lubricants (VDL) might be less toxic to marine organisms than mineral-derived oils (MDL) due to the absence of high molecular weight aromatics, but this remains largely untested. In this laboratory study, adult corals and coral gametes were exposed to various concentrations of a two-stroke VDL-1A and a corresponding MDL to determine which lubricant type was more toxic to each life stage. In the fertilization experiment, gametes from the scleractinian coral Acropora microphthalma were exposed to water-accommodated fractions (WAF) of VDL-1A and MDL for four hours. The MDL and VDL-1A WAFs inhibited normal fertilization of the corals at 200 μg l -1 total hydrocarbon content (THC) and 150 μg l -1 THC respectively. Disturbance of a stable coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis is regarded as a valid measure of sub-lethal stress in adult corals. The state of the symbiosis in branchlets of adult colonies of Acropora formosa was monitored using indicators such as dinoflagellate expulsion and dark-adapted photosystem II yields of dinoflagellate (using pulse amplitude modulation fluorescence). An effect on symbiosis was measurable following 48 h exposure to the lubricants at concentrations of 190 μg l -1 and 37 μg l -1 THC for the MDL and VDL-1A respectively. GC/MS revealed that the main constituent of the VDL-1A WAF was the compound coumarin, added by the manufacturer to improve odour. The fragrance containing coumarin was removed from the lubricant formulation and the toxicity towards adult corals re-examined. The coumarin-free VDL-2 exhibited significantly less toxicity towards the adult corals than all of the other oil types tested, with the only measurable effect being a slight but significant drop in photosynthetic efficiency at 280 μg l -1 . - Vegetable-derived lubricants were less toxic to adult corals than their mineral counterparts

  17. Geochemical study of coral skeletons from the Puerto Morelos Reef, southeastern Mexico

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kasper-Zubillaga, Juan J.; Armstrong-Altrin, John S.; Rosales-Hoz, Leticia

    2014-12-01

    Geochemical analyses in coral skeletons have been used as a proxy of marine environmental conditions and to understand the mechanisms of adsorption of chemical elements into the coral skeletons and growth forms. However, little attention has been given to show the possible differences in the growth rates of corals based upon major, trace, rare earth element and microprobe analyses to examine the physical-chemical conditions influencing those differences. Our goal is to show how branch and fan corals incorporate elements into their skeletons comparing them with their coral growth rates. We determine the development of the skeletons of two branching (Acropora palmata, Acropora cervicornis) and one fan shaped (Gorgonia ventalina) colonies in the Puerto Morelos Reef, southeastern Mexico based upon geochemical data and the influence of terrigenous input into the species. Mg and Sr concentrations were the most statistically significant elements among the species studied suggesting that Mg concentration in Gorgonia ventalina is probably not linked to its growth rate. Mn content in the sea water is adsorbed by the three corals during past growth rates during high rainfall events. Sr concentration may be associated with the growth rate of Acropora palmata. Little differences in the growth rate in Acropora palmata may be associated with low rates of calcitization, negligible changes in the Sr concentration and little influence of temperature and water depth in its growth. Trace elements like Cr, Co, Ni and V adsorbed by the corals are influenced by natural concentration of these elements in the sea-water. Rare earth elements in the corals studied suggests abundant inorganic ions CO32- with variable pH in modern shallow well-oxygenated sea water. Lack of terrigenous input seawards is supported by geochemical, geomorphological and biological evidences. This study is an example of how geochemical data are useful to observe the differences in environmental conditions related to

  18. Possible return of Acropora cervicornis at Pulaski Shoal, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lidz, Barbara H.; Zawada, David G.

    2013-01-01

    Seabed classification is essential to assessing environmental associations and physical status in coral reef ecosystems. At Pulaski Shoal in Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, nearly continuous underwater-image coverage was acquired in 15.5 hours in 2009 along 70.2 km of transect lines spanning ~0.2 km2. The Along-Track Reef-Imaging System (ATRIS), a boat-based, high-speed, digital imaging system, was used. ATRIS-derived benthic classes were merged with a QuickBird satellite image to create a habitat map that defines areas of senile coral reef, carbonate sand, seagrasses, and coral rubble. This atypical approach of starting with extensive, high-resolution in situ imagery and extrapolating between transect lines using satellite imagery leverages the strengths of each remote-sensing modality. The ATRIS images also captured the spatial distribution of two species once common on now-degraded Florida-Caribbean coral reefs: the stony staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis, a designated threatened species, and the long-spined urchin Diadema antillarum. This article documents the utility of ATRIS imagery for quantifying number and estimating age of A. cervicornis colonies (n = 400, age range, 5–11 y) since the severe hypothermic die-off in the Dry Tortugas in 1976–77. This study is also the first to document the largest number of new colonies of A. cervicornis tabulated in an area of the park where coral-monitoring stations maintained by the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute have not been established. The elevated numbers provide an updated baseline for tracking revival of this species at Pulaski Shoal.

  19. Microbial aggregates within tissues infect a diversity of corals throughout the Indo-Pacific

    Science.gov (United States)

    Work, Thierry M.; Aeby, Greta S.

    2014-01-01

    Coral reefs are highly diverse ecosystems where symbioses play a pivotal role. Corals contain cell-associated microbial aggregates (CAMA), yet little is known about how widespread they are among coral species or the nature of the symbiotic relationship. Using histology, we found CAMA within 24 species of corals from 6 genera from Hawaii, American Samoa, Palmyra, Johnston Atoll, Guam, and Australia. Prevalence (%) of infection varied among coral genera: Acropora, Porites, and Pocillopora were commonly infected whereas Montipora were not. Acropora from the Western Pacific were significantly more likely to be infected with CAMA than those from the Central Pacific, whereas the reverse was true for Porites. Compared with apparently healthy colonies, tissues from diseased colonies were significantly more likely to have both surface and basal body walls infected. The close association of CAMA with host cells in numerous species of apparently healthy corals and lack of associated cell pathology reveals an intimate agent-host association. Furthermore, CAMA are Gram negative and in some corals may be related to chlamydia or rickettsia. We propose that CAMA in adult corals are facultative secondary symbionts that could play an important ecological role in some dominant coral genera in the Indo-Pacific. CAMA are important in the life histories of other animals, and more work is needed to understand their role in the distribution, evolution, physiology, and immunology of reef corals.

  20. Coral microbial community dynamics in response to anthropogenic impacts near a major city in the central Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Ziegler, Maren; Roik, Anna Krystyna; Porter, Adam; Zubier, Khalid; Mudarris, Mohammed S.; Ormond, Rupert; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2016-01-01

    Coral-associated bacteria play an increasingly recognized part in coral health. We investigated the effect of local anthropogenic impacts on coral microbial communities on reefs near Jeddah, the largest city on the Saudi Arabian coast of the central Red Sea. We analyzed the bacterial community structure of water and corals (Pocillopora verrucosa and Acropora hemprichii) at sites that were relatively unimpacted, exposed to sedimentation & local sewage, or in the discharge area of municipal wastewaters. Coral microbial communities were significantly different at impacted sites: in both corals the main symbiotic taxon decreased in abundance. In contrast, opportunistic bacterial families, such as e.g. Vibrionaceae and Rhodobacteraceae, were more abundant in corals at impacted sites. In conclusion, microbial community response revealed a measurable footprint of anthropogenic impacts to coral ecosystems close to Jeddah, even though the corals appeared visually healthy.

  1. Coral microbial community dynamics in response to anthropogenic impacts near a major city in the central Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Ziegler, Maren

    2016-01-04

    Coral-associated bacteria play an increasingly recognized part in coral health. We investigated the effect of local anthropogenic impacts on coral microbial communities on reefs near Jeddah, the largest city on the Saudi Arabian coast of the central Red Sea. We analyzed the bacterial community structure of water and corals (Pocillopora verrucosa and Acropora hemprichii) at sites that were relatively unimpacted, exposed to sedimentation & local sewage, or in the discharge area of municipal wastewaters. Coral microbial communities were significantly different at impacted sites: in both corals the main symbiotic taxon decreased in abundance. In contrast, opportunistic bacterial families, such as e.g. Vibrionaceae and Rhodobacteraceae, were more abundant in corals at impacted sites. In conclusion, microbial community response revealed a measurable footprint of anthropogenic impacts to coral ecosystems close to Jeddah, even though the corals appeared visually healthy.

  2. Bacterial acquisition in juveniles of several broadcast spawning coral species.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Koty H Sharp

    Full Text Available Coral animals harbor diverse microorganisms in their tissues, including archaea, bacteria, viruses, and zooxanthellae. The extent to which coral-bacterial associations are specific and the mechanisms for their maintenance across generations in the environment are unknown. The high diversity of bacteria in adult coral colonies has made it challenging to identify species-specific patterns. Localization of bacteria in gametes and larvae of corals presents an opportunity for determining when bacterial-coral associations are initiated and whether they are dynamic throughout early development. This study focuses on the early onset of bacterial associations in the mass spawning corals Montastraea annularis, M. franksi, M. faveolata, Acropora palmata, A. cervicornis, Diploria strigosa, and A. humilis. The presence of bacteria and timing of bacterial colonization was evaluated in gametes, swimming planulae, and newly settled polyps by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH using general eubacterial probes and laser-scanning confocal microscopy. The coral species investigated in this study do not appear to transmit bacteria via their gametes, and bacteria are not detectable in or on the corals until after settlement and metamorphosis. This study suggests that mass-spawning corals do not acquire, or are not colonized by, detectable numbers of bacteria until after larval settlement and development of the juvenile polyp. This timing lays the groundwork for developing and testing new hypotheses regarding general regulatory mechanisms that control bacterial colonization and infection of corals, and how interactions among bacteria and juvenile polyps influence the structure of bacterial assemblages in corals.

  3. Bacterial acquisition in juveniles of several broadcast spawning coral species.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sharp, Koty H; Ritchie, Kim B; Schupp, Peter J; Ritson-Williams, Raphael; Paul, Valerie J

    2010-05-28

    Coral animals harbor diverse microorganisms in their tissues, including archaea, bacteria, viruses, and zooxanthellae. The extent to which coral-bacterial associations are specific and the mechanisms for their maintenance across generations in the environment are unknown. The high diversity of bacteria in adult coral colonies has made it challenging to identify species-specific patterns. Localization of bacteria in gametes and larvae of corals presents an opportunity for determining when bacterial-coral associations are initiated and whether they are dynamic throughout early development. This study focuses on the early onset of bacterial associations in the mass spawning corals Montastraea annularis, M. franksi, M. faveolata, Acropora palmata, A. cervicornis, Diploria strigosa, and A. humilis. The presence of bacteria and timing of bacterial colonization was evaluated in gametes, swimming planulae, and newly settled polyps by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using general eubacterial probes and laser-scanning confocal microscopy. The coral species investigated in this study do not appear to transmit bacteria via their gametes, and bacteria are not detectable in or on the corals until after settlement and metamorphosis. This study suggests that mass-spawning corals do not acquire, or are not colonized by, detectable numbers of bacteria until after larval settlement and development of the juvenile polyp. This timing lays the groundwork for developing and testing new hypotheses regarding general regulatory mechanisms that control bacterial colonization and infection of corals, and how interactions among bacteria and juvenile polyps influence the structure of bacterial assemblages in corals.

  4. Responses of two scleractinian corals to cobalt pollution and ocean acidification.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Tom Biscéré

    Full Text Available The effects of ocean acidification alone or in combination with warming on coral metabolism have been extensively investigated, whereas none of these studies consider that most coral reefs near shore are already impacted by other natural anthropogenic inputs such as metal pollution. It is likely that projected ocean acidification levels will aggravate coral reef health. We first investigated how ocean acidification interacts with one near shore locally abundant metal on the physiology of two major reef-building corals: Stylophora pistillata and Acropora muricata. Two pH levels (pHT 8.02; pCO2 366 μatm and pHT 7.75; pCO2 1140 μatm and two cobalt concentrations (natural, 0.03 μg L-1 and polluted, 0.2 μg L-1 were tested during five weeks in aquaria. We found that, for both species, cobalt input decreased significantly their growth rates by 28% while it stimulated their photosystem II, with higher values of rETRmax (relative Electron Transport Rate. Elevated pCO2 levels acted differently on the coral rETRmax values and did not affect their growth rates. No consistent interaction was found between pCO2 levels and cobalt concentrations. We also measured in situ the effect of higher cobalt concentrations (1.06 ± 0.16 μg L-1 on A. muricata using benthic chamber experiments. At this elevated concentration, cobalt decreased simultaneously coral growth and photosynthetic rates, indicating that the toxic threshold for this pollutant has been reached for both host cells and zooxanthellae. Our results from both aquaria and in situ experiments, suggest that these coral species are not particularly sensitive to high pCO2 conditions but they are to ecologically relevant cobalt concentrations. Our study reveals that some reefs may be yet subjected to deleterious pollution levels, and even if no interaction between pCO2 levels and cobalt concentration has been found, it is likely that coral metabolism will be weakened if they are subjected to additional

  5. Metatranscriptome Sequencing of a Reef-building Coral Elucidates Holobiont Community Gene Functions in Health and Disease

    Science.gov (United States)

    Timberlake, S.; Helbig, T.; Fernando, S.; Penn, K.; Alm, E.; Thompson, F.; Thompson, J. R.

    2012-12-01

    The coral reefs of the Abrolhos Bank of Brazil play a vital ecological role in the health of the Southern Atlantic Ocean, but accelerating rates of disease, particularly white plague, threaten this ecosystem. Thus, an understanding of white plague disease and diagnostic tests for it are urgently needed. The coral animal is associated with a distinct microbiome, a diverse assemblage of eukaryotes, bacteria, and viruses. That these microbes have a great influence on the health of the coral has been long known, however, most of their functions are still mysterious. While recent studies have contrasted healthy and white-plague-associated communities, the causative agents and mechanisms of the disease remain unknown. We collected fragments of healthy and diseased corals, as well as post-disease skeleton, from 12 colonies of the genus Mussismilia, the major component of the reef structure in the Abrolhos bank, and increasingly, a victim of white-plague disease. Fragments were flash-frozen in situ, and prepped for culture-free high throughput sequencing of gene transcripts with the Illumina II-G. While the membership of the microbial communities associated with coral has been previously described, the a coral holobiont community's gene function has, to date, never been assayed by this powerful approach. We designed a bioinformatics pipeline to analyze the short-read data from this complex sample: identifying the functions of genes expressed in the holobiont, and describing the active community's taxonomic composition. We show that gene functions expressed by the coral's bacterial assemblage are distinct from those of the underlying skeleton, and we highlight differences in the disease samples. We find that gene markers for the dissimilatory sulfate reduction pathway more abundant in the disease state, and we further quantify this difference with qPCR. Finally, we report the abundant expression of highly repetitive transcripts in the diseased coral samples, and highlight

  6. Post-settlement survivorship in two Caribbean broadcasting corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Miller, Margaret W.

    2014-12-01

    The post-settlement phase of broadcast-spawned coral life histories is poorly known due to its almost complete undetectability and, hence, presumed low abundance in the field. We used lab-cultured settled polyps of two important Caribbean reef-building species with negligible larval recruitment to quantify early post-settlement survivorship (6-9 weeks) over multiple years/cohorts and differing orientation on a reef in the Florida Keys. Orbicella faveolata showed significantly and consistently better survivorship in vertical rather than horizontal orientation, but no discernable growth overall. Meanwhile, Acropora palmata showed no significant difference in survivorship between orientations, but significantly greater growth in the horizontal orientation. Both species showed significant variation in mean survivorship between cohorts of different years; 0-47 % for O. faveolata and 12-49 % for A. palmata over the observed duration. These results demonstrate wide variation in success of cohorts and important differences in the larval recruitment capacities of these two important but imperiled reef-building species.

  7. Species Profiles: Life Histories and Environmental Requirements of Coastal Fishes and Invertebrates (South Florida). Reef-Building Corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    1987-08-01

    2S-34. Dustan, P. 1979. Distribution of Davis, G. 1982. A century of natural zooxanthellae and photosynthetic change in coral distribution at the...Perturbation and change in National Climatic Center, Asheville, coral reef communities. Proc. Natl. N.C. 4 pp. Acad. Sci. 79:1678-1681. Neigel, J.E., and...expected to react to environmental changes caused by coastal development. Each profile has sections on taxonomy, life history, ecological role

  8. Seasonal variations in energy levels and metabolic processes of two dominant Acropora species ( A. spicifera and A. digitifera) at Ningaloo Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hinrichs, S.; Patten, N. L.; Allcock, R. J. N.; Saunders, S. M.; Strickland, D.; Waite, A. M.

    2013-09-01

    Seasonal variations in coral health indices reflecting autotrophic activity (chlorophyll a and zooxanthellae density), metabolic rates (RNA/DNA ratio and protein) and energy storage (ratio of storage: structural lipids or lipid ratios) were examined for two dominant Acropora species [ Acropora digitifera ( AD) and Acropora spicifera ( AS)] at Ningaloo Reef (north-western Australia). Such detailed investigation of metabolic processes is important background, with regard to understanding the vulnerability of corals to environmental change. Health indices in AD and AS were measured before and after spawning in austral autumn and winter 2010, and austral summer 2011 at six stations. Health indices showed seasonal and species-specific differences but negligible spatial differences across a reef section. For AD, autotrophic indices were negatively correlated with lipid ratios and metabolic indices. Metabolic indices were significantly higher in AS than AD. No correlation was observed between RNA/DNA ratios and lipid ratios with any autotrophic indices for AS. Lipid ratios were stable throughout the year for AS while they changed significantly for AD. For both species, indices of metabolic activity were highest during autumn, while autotrophic indices were highest in winter and summer. Results suggest that the impact of the broadcast spawning event on coral health indices at Ningaloo Reef occurred only as a backdrop to massive seasonal changes in coral physiology. The La Niña summer pattern resulted in high autotrophic indices and low metabolic indices and energy stores. Our results imply different metabolic processes in A. digitifera and A. spicifera as well as a strong impact of extreme events on coral physiology.

  9. Prevalence of potential nitrogen-fixing, green sulphur bacteria in the skeleton of reef-building coral Isopora palifera

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yang, S. H.

    2016-02-01

    Microbial endoliths, which inhabit interior pores of rocks, skeletons and coral, are ubiquitous in terrestrial and marine environments. In the present study, various colored layers stratified the endolithic environment within the skeleton of Isopora palifera; however, there was a distinct green-pigmented layer in the skeleton (beneath the living coral tissue). To characterize diversity of endolithic microorganisms, 16S ribosomal RNA gene amplicon pyrosequencing was used to investigate bacterial communities in the green layer of Isopora palifera coral colonies retrieved fromGreen Island, Taiwan. The dominant bacterial group in the green layer belonged to the bacterial phylum Chlorobi, green sulphur bacteria capable of anoxygenic photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. Specifically, bacteria of the genus Prosthecochloris were dominant in this green layer. To our knowledge, this is the first study to provide a detailed profile of endolithic bacteria in coral and to determine prevalence of Prosthecochloris in the green layer. Based on our findings, we infer that these bacteria may have an important functional role in the coral holobiont in the nutrient-limited coral reef ecosystem.

  10. Evolutionary insights into scleractinian corals using comparative genomic hybridizations.

    KAUST Repository

    Aranda, Manuel; DeSalvo, Michael K; Bayer, Till; Medina, Monica; Voolstra, Christian R.

    2012-01-01

    Coral reefs belong to the most ecologically and economically important ecosystems on our planet. Yet, they are under steady decline worldwide due to rising sea surface temperatures, disease, and pollution. Understanding the molecular impact of these stressors on different coral species is imperative in order to predict how coral populations will respond to this continued disturbance. The use of molecular tools such as microarrays has provided deep insight into the molecular stress response of corals. Here, we have performed comparative genomic hybridizations (CGH) with different coral species to an Acropora palmata microarray platform containing 13,546 cDNA clones in order to identify potentially rapidly evolving genes and to determine the suitability of existing microarray platforms for use in gene expression studies (via heterologous hybridization).

  11. Through bleaching and tsunami: Coral reef recovery in the Maldives.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Morri, Carla; Montefalcone, Monica; Lasagna, Roberta; Gatti, Giulia; Rovere, Alessio; Parravicini, Valeriano; Baldelli, Giuseppe; Colantoni, Paolo; Bianchi, Carlo Nike

    2015-09-15

    Coral reefs are degrading worldwide, but little information exists on their previous conditions for most regions of the world. Since 1989, we have been studying the Maldives, collecting data before, during and after the bleaching and mass mortality event of 1998. As early as 1999, many newly settled colonies were recorded. Recruits shifted from a dominance of massive and encrusting corals in the early stages of recolonisation towards a dominance of Acropora and Pocillopora by 2009. Coral cover, which dropped to less than 10% after the bleaching, returned to pre-bleaching values of around 50% by 2013. The 2004 tsunami had comparatively little effect. In 2014, the coral community was similar to that existing before the bleaching. According to descriptors and metrics adopted, recovery of Maldivian coral reefs took between 6 and 15years, or may even be considered unachieved, as there are species that had not come back yet. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  12. Evolutionary insights into scleractinian corals using comparative genomic hybridizations.

    KAUST Repository

    Aranda, Manuel

    2012-09-21

    Coral reefs belong to the most ecologically and economically important ecosystems on our planet. Yet, they are under steady decline worldwide due to rising sea surface temperatures, disease, and pollution. Understanding the molecular impact of these stressors on different coral species is imperative in order to predict how coral populations will respond to this continued disturbance. The use of molecular tools such as microarrays has provided deep insight into the molecular stress response of corals. Here, we have performed comparative genomic hybridizations (CGH) with different coral species to an Acropora palmata microarray platform containing 13,546 cDNA clones in order to identify potentially rapidly evolving genes and to determine the suitability of existing microarray platforms for use in gene expression studies (via heterologous hybridization).

  13. Spatial heterogeneity in active chlorophyll fluorescence and PSII activity of coral tissues

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Ralph, P.J.; Gademann, R.; Larkum, A.W.D.

    2002-01-01

    Chlorophyll-a fluorescence was measured in six species of coral, using pulse-amplitude-modulated fluorometers employing fibre-optic probes with diameters of 8 mm, 1 mm and 140 µm. The 8-mm probe integrated responses over a large area, giving more weight to coenosarc than polyp tissue for Acropora...

  14. On the occurrence of fishes in relation to corals in Curaçao

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Nagelkerken, W.P.

    1974-01-01

    During the period from 10.IV.1969 until 14.IV.1970 an inventory was taken of 9 Millepora-fields and 8 Acropora palmata-fields in shallow water along the southcoast of Curaçao. From these fields all fishes were collected and one specimen of every species of coral. With the aid of a method used in the

  15. Coral-bacterial communities before and after a coral mass spawning event on Ningaloo Reef.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Janja Ceh

    Full Text Available Bacteria associated with three coral species, Acropora tenuis, Pocillopora damicornis and Tubastrea faulkneri, were assessed before and after coral mass spawning on Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Two colonies of each species were sampled before and after the mass spawning event and two additional samples were collected for P. damicornis after planulation. A variable 470 bp region of the 16 S rRNA gene was selected for pyrosequencing to provide an understanding of potential variations in coral-associated bacterial diversity and community structure. Bacterial diversity increased for all coral species after spawning as assessed by Chao1 diversity indicators. Minimal changes in community structure were observed at the class level and data at the taxonomical level of genus incorporated into a PCA analysis indicated that despite bacterial diversity increasing after spawning, coral-associated community structure did not shift greatly with samples grouped according to species. However, interesting changes could be detected from the dataset; for example, α-Proteobacteria increased in relative abundance after coral spawning and particularly the Roseobacter clade was found to be prominent in all coral species, indicating that this group may be important in coral reproduction.

  16. Genomic patterns in Acropora cervicornis show extensive population structure and variable genetic diversity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Drury, Crawford; Schopmeyer, Stephanie; Goergen, Elizabeth; Bartels, Erich; Nedimyer, Ken; Johnson, Meaghan; Maxwell, Kerry; Galvan, Victor; Manfrino, Carrie; Lirman, Diego

    2017-08-01

    Threatened Caribbean coral communities can benefit from high-resolution genetic data used to inform management and conservation action. We use Genotyping by Sequencing (GBS) to investigate genetic patterns in the threatened coral, Acropora cervicornis , across the Florida Reef Tract (FRT) and the western Caribbean. Results show extensive population structure at regional scales and resolve previously unknown structure within the FRT. Different regions also exhibit up to threefold differences in genetic diversity (He), suggesting targeted management based on the goals and resources of each population is needed. Patterns of genetic diversity have a strong spatial component, and our results show Broward and the Lower Keys are among the most diverse populations in Florida. The genetic diversity of Caribbean staghorn coral is concentrated within populations and within individual reefs (AMOVA), highlighting the complex mosaic of population structure. This variance structure is similar over regional and local scales, which suggests that in situ nurseries are adequately capturing natural patterns of diversity, representing a resource that can replicate the average diversity of wild assemblages, serving to increase intraspecific diversity and potentially leading to improved biodiversity and ecosystem function. Results presented here can be translated into specific goals for the recovery of A. cervicornis , including active focus on low diversity areas, protection of high diversity and connectivity, and practical thresholds for responsible restoration.

  17. Background mortality rates for recovering populations of Acropora cytherea in the Chagos Archipelago, central Indian Ocean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pratchett, M S; Pisapia, C; Sheppard, C R C

    2013-05-01

    This study quantified background rates of mortality for Acropora cytherea in the Chagos Archipelago. Despite low levels of anthropogenic disturbance, 27.5% (149/541) of A. cytherea colonies exhibited some level of partial mortality, and 9.0% (49/541) of colonies had recent injuries. A total of 15.3% of the overall surface area of physically intact A. cytherea colonies was dead. Observed mortality was partly attributable to overtopping and/or self-shading among colonies. There were also low-densities of Acanthaster planci apparent at some study sites. However, most of the recent mortality recorded was associated with isolated infestations of the coral crab, Cymo melanodactylus. A. cytherea is a relatively fast growing coral and these levels of mortality may be biologically unimportant. However, few studies have measured background rates of coral mortality, especially in the absence of direct human disturbances. These data are important for assessing the impacts of increasing disturbances, especially in projecting likely recovery. Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

  18. Transcriptional responses of Acropora hyacinthus embryo under the benzo(a)pyrene stress by deep sequencing.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Xiao, Rong; Zhou, Hailong; Chen, Chien-Min; Cheng, Huamin; Li, Hongwu; Xie, Jia; Zhao, Hongwei; Han, Qian; Diao, Xiaoping

    2018-04-24

    Coral embryos are a critical and sensitive period for the early growth and development of coral. Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) is widely distributed in the ocean and has strong toxicity, but there is little information on the toxic effects to coral embryos exposed to this widespread environmental contaminant. Thus, in this study, we utilized the Illumina Hiseq™ 4000 platform to explore the gene response of Acropora hyacinthus embryos under the BaP stress. A total of 130,042 Unigenes were obtained and analyzed, and approximately 37.67% of those matched with sequences from four different species. In total, 2606 Unigenes were up-regulated, and 3872 Unigenes were down-regulated. After Gene Ontology (GO) annotation, the results show that the "cellular process" and "metabolic process" were leading in the category of biological processes, which the "binding" and "catalytic activity" were the most abundant subcategories in molecular function. Based on the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis, the most differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were enriched, as well as down-regulated in the pathways of oxidative phosphorylation, metabolism of xenobiotics, immune-related genes, apoptosis and human disease genes. At the same time, 388,197 of Single-nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and 6164 of Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) were obtained, which can be served as the richer and more valuable SSRs molecular markers in the future. The results of this study can help to better understand the toxicological mechanism of coral embryo exposed to BaP, and it is also essential for the protection and restoration of coral reef ecosystem in the future. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  19. The influence of micro-topography and external bioerosion on coral-reef-building organisms: recruitment, community composition and carbonate production over time

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mallela, Jennie

    2018-03-01

    The continued health and function of tropical coral reefs is highly dependent on the ability of reef-building organisms to build large, complex, three-dimensional structures that continue to accrete and evolve over time. The recent deterioration of reef health globally, including loss of coral cover, has resulted in significant declines in architectural complexity at a large, reef-scape scale. Interestingly, the fine-scale role of micro-structure in initiating and facilitating future reef development and calcium carbonate production has largely been overlooked. In this study, experimental substrates with and without micro-ridges were deployed in the lagoon at One Tree Island for 34 months. This study assessed how the presence or absence of micro-ridges promoted recruitment by key reef-building sclerobionts (corals and encrusters) and their subsequent development at micro (mm) and macro (cm) scales. Experimental plates were examined after 11 and 34 months to assess whether long-term successional and calcification processes on different micro-topographies led to convergent or divergent communities over time. Sclerobionts were most prevalent in micro-grooves when they were available. Interestingly, in shallow lagoon reef sites characterised by shoals of small parrotfish and low urchin abundance, flat substrates were also successfully recruited to. Mean rates of carbonate production were 374 ± 154 (SD) g CaCO3 m-2 yr-1 within the lagoon. Substrates with micro-ridges were characterised by significantly greater rates of carbonate production than smooth substrates. The orientation of the substrate and period of immersion also significantly impacted rates of carbonate production, with CaCO3 on cryptic tiles increasing by 28% between 11 and 34 months. In contrast, rates on exposed tiles declined by 35% over the same time. In conclusion, even at sites characterised by small-sized parrotfish and low urchin density, micro-topography is an important settlement niche clearly

  20. High genotypic diversity of the reef-building coral Porites lobata (Scleractinia: Poritidae in Isla del Coco National Park, Costa Rica

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jennifer N. Boulay

    2012-11-01

    Full Text Available The isolated Isla del Coco experiences periodic, extreme disturbances which devastate coral reefs surrounding the island. Scleractinian corals build the physical structure of the reef therefore ecosystem recovery relies on coral species recovery. Coral recruits can be of sexual or asexual origin, and the relative success of the two recruit types influences the speed and spread of recovery processes. Here we focus on the massive coral, Porites lobata, because it is the main reef-builder around Isla del Coco to describe the relative contribution of asexual and sexual recruits to population maintenance. P. lobata samples were collected using a spatially explicit random sampling design in three plots at Isla del Coco: Punta Ulloa (n=17, Bahía Weston (n=20 and Punta María (n=20 and samples were genotyped with 11 microsatellite markers. Additional sampling was conducted at three “coastal” sites near the Costa Rican mainland (Isla del Caño Biological Reserve: Caño1 (n=8, Caño2 (n=10, Caño5 (n=11 to compare the contributions of asexual and sexual recruits at Isla del Coco sites to coastal sites. Isla del Coco sites were characterized by small colony size (>60% of colonies Los ambientes marinos del Parque Nacional Isla del Coco experimentan perturbaciones extremas periódicamente como por ejemplo El Niño-Oscilación del Sur (ENOS que han devastado las comunidades coralinas. La cobertura coralino se redujo drásticamente durante El Niño de 1982-83. Los corales escleractinios construyen la estructura física de los arrecifes así que la recuperación de estos ecosistemas depende de que los corales se recuperen. Los corales pueden reproducirse sexual y asexualmente, y el éxito relativo de cada forma de reproducción va a guiar el proceso de recuperación con implicaciones potenciales a la diversidad de las comunidades asociadas. En la mayoría de los arrecifes alrededor de la Isla del Coco, el coral masivo, Porites lobata, es la especie

  1. Viral outbreak in corals associated with an in situ bleaching event: atypical herpes-like viruses and a new megavirus infecting Symbiodinium

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Adrienne M.S. Correa

    2016-02-01

    Full Text Available Previous studies of coral viruses have employed either microscopy or metagenomics, but few have attempted to comprehensively link the presence of a virus-like particle (VLP to a genomic sequence. We conducted transmission electron microscopy imaging and virome analysis in tandem to characterize the most conspicuous viral types found within the dominant Pacific reef-building coral genus Acropora. Collections for this study inadvertently captured what we interpret as a natural outbreak of viral infection driven by aerial exposure of the reef flat coincident with heavy rainfall and concomitant mass bleaching. All experimental corals in this study had high titers of viral particles. Three of the dominant VLPs identified were observed in all tissue layers and budding out from the epidermis, including viruses that were ~70 nm, ~120 nm, and ~150 nm in diameter; these VLPs all contained electron dense cores. These morphological traits are reminiscent of retroviruses, herpesviruses, and nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDVs, respectively. Some 300-500 nm megavirus-like VLPs also were observed within and associated with dinoflagellate algal endosymbiont (Symbiodinium cells. Abundant sequence similarities to a gammaretrovirus, herpesviruses, and members of the NCLDVs, based on a virome generated from five Acropora aspera colonies, corroborated these morphology-based identifications. Additionally sequence similarities to two diagnostic genes, a MutS and (based on re-annotation of sequences from another study a DNA polymerase B gene, most closely resembled Pyramimonas orientalis virus, demonstrating the association of a cosmopolitan megavirus with Symbiodinium. We also identified several other viral particles in host tissues, along with sequences phylogenetically similar to circoviruses, phages, and filamentous viruses. This study suggests that viral outbreaks may be a common but previously undocumented component of natural bleaching events

  2. Viral Outbreak in Corals Associated with an In Situ Bleaching Event: Atypical Herpes-Like Viruses and a New Megavirus Infecting Symbiodinium

    Science.gov (United States)

    Correa, Adrienne M. S.; Ainsworth, Tracy D.; Rosales, Stephanie M.; Thurber, Andrew R.; Butler, Christopher R.; Vega Thurber, Rebecca L.

    2016-01-01

    Previous studies of coral viruses have employed either microscopy or metagenomics, but few have attempted to comprehensively link the presence of a virus-like particle (VLP) to a genomic sequence. We conducted transmission electron microscopy imaging and virome analysis in tandem to characterize the most conspicuous viral types found within the dominant Pacific reef-building coral genus Acropora. Collections for this study inadvertently captured what we interpret as a natural outbreak of viral infection driven by aerial exposure of the reef flat coincident with heavy rainfall and concomitant mass bleaching. All experimental corals in this study had high titers of viral particles. Three of the dominant VLPs identified were observed in all tissue layers and budding out from the epidermis, including viruses that were ∼70, ∼120, and ∼150 nm in diameter; these VLPs all contained electron dense cores. These morphological traits are reminiscent of retroviruses, herpesviruses, and nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDVs), respectively. Some 300–500 nm megavirus-like VLPs also were observed within and associated with dinoflagellate algal endosymbiont (Symbiodinium) cells. Abundant sequence similarities to a gammaretrovirus, herpesviruses, and members of the NCLDVs, based on a virome generated from five Acropora aspera colonies, corroborated these morphology-based identifications. Additionally sequence similarities to two diagnostic genes, a MutS and (based on re-annotation of sequences from another study) a DNA polymerase B gene, most closely resembled Pyramimonas orientalis virus, demonstrating the association of a cosmopolitan megavirus with Symbiodinium. We also identified several other virus-like particles in host tissues, along with sequences phylogenetically similar to circoviruses, phages, and filamentous viruses. This study suggests that viral outbreaks may be a common but previously undocumented component of natural bleaching events, particularly

  3. The coral triangle initiative: What are we missing? A case study from Aceh

    KAUST Repository

    Rudi, Edi

    2012-10-01

    Abstract The Coral Triangle Initiative is an ambitious attempt to conserve the marine biodiversity hotspot known as the Coral Triangle. However, the reef fauna in many nearby regions remains poorly explored and, consequently, the focus on the Coral Triangle risks overlooking other areas of high conservation significance. One region of potential significance, Aceh, Indonesia, has not been visited by coral taxonomists since the Dutch colonial period. Here we document the species richness of scleractinian corals of Pulau Weh, Aceh. We also compare the species richness of the genus Acropora at 3-5 sites in each of nine regions in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Although dominated by widespread Indo-Pacific species, the coral fauna of Pulau Weh is also the eastern and western boundary for many Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean species, respectively. We identified a total of 133 scleractinian species, of which three have been previously recorded only in the western Indian Ocean and five are presently undescribed. The mean species richness of the Acropora at Pulau Weh is similar to regions within the Coral Triangle. This high species richness plus the high proportion of endemics suggests that the Andaman Sea is of similarly high conservation value to the Coral Triangle. We suggest that an international initiative similar to the Coral Triangle Initiative is required to conserve this region, which includes the territorial waters of six countries. © 2012 Fauna & Flora International.

  4. Gene expression of corals in response to macroalgal competitors.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Tonya L Shearer

    Full Text Available As corals decline and macroalgae proliferate on coral reefs, coral-macroalgal competition becomes more frequent and ecologically important. Whether corals are damaged by these interactions depends on susceptibility of the coral and traits of macroalgal competitors. Investigating changes in gene expression of corals and their intracellular symbiotic algae, Symbiodinium, in response to contact with different macroalgae provides insight into the biological processes and cellular pathways affected by competition with macroalgae. We evaluated the gene expression profiles of coral and Symbiodinium genes from two confamilial corals, Acropora millepora and Montipora digitata, after 6 h and 48 h of contact with four common macroalgae that differ in their allelopathic potency to corals. Contacts with macroalgae affected different biological pathways in the more susceptible (A. millepora versus the more resistant (M. digitata coral. Genes of coral hosts and of their associated Symbiodinium also responded in species-specific and time-specific ways to each macroalga. Changes in number and expression intensity of affected genes were greater after 6 h compared to 48 h of contact and were greater following contact with Chlorodesmis fastigiata and Amphiroa crassa than following contact with Galaxaura filamentosa or Turbinaria conoides. We documented a divergence in transcriptional responses between two confamilial corals and their associated Symbiodinium, as well as a diversity of dynamic responses within each coral species with respect to the species of macroalgal competitor and the duration of exposure to that competitor. These responses included early initiation of immune processes by Montipora, which is more resistant to damage after long-term macroalgal contact. Activation of the immune response by corals that better resist algal competition is consistent with the hypothesis that some macroalgal effects on corals may be mediated by microbial pathogens.

  5. Bleaching increases likelihood of disease on Acropora palmata (Lamarck) in Hawksnest Bay, St John, US Virgin Islands

    Science.gov (United States)

    Muller, E. M.; Rogers, C. S.; Spitzack, A. S.; van Woesik, R.

    2008-03-01

    Anomalously high water temperatures may enhance the likelihood of coral disease outbreaks by increasing the abundance or virulence of pathogens, or by increasing host susceptibility. This study tested the compromised-host hypothesis, and documented the relationship between disease and temperature, through monthly monitoring of Acropora palmata colonies from May 2004 to December 2006, in Hawksnest Bay, St John, US Virgin Islands (USVI). Disease prevalence and the rate of change in prevalence showed a positive linear relationship with water temperature and rate of change in water temperature, respectively, but only in 2005 during prolonged periods of elevated temperature. Both bleached and unbleached colonies showed a positive relationship between disease prevalence and temperature in 2005, but the average area of disease-associated mortality increased only for bleached corals, indicating host susceptibility, rather than temperature per se, influenced disease severity on A. palmata.

  6. Transcriptomic Changes in Coral Holobionts Provide Insights into Physiological Challenges of Future Climate and Ocean Change.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Paulina Kaniewska

    Full Text Available Tropical reef-building coral stress levels will intensify with the predicted rising atmospheric CO2 resulting in ocean temperature and acidification increase. Most studies to date have focused on the destabilization of coral-dinoflagellate symbioses due to warming oceans, or declining calcification due to ocean acidification. In our study, pH and temperature conditions consistent with the end-of-century scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC caused major changes in photosynthesis and respiration, in addition to decreased calcification rates in the coral Acropora millepora. Population density of symbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium under high levels of ocean acidification and temperature (Representative Concentration Pathway, RCP8.5 decreased to half of that found under present day conditions, with photosynthetic and respiratory rates also being reduced by 40%. These physiological changes were accompanied by evidence for gene regulation of calcium and bicarbonate transporters along with components of the organic matrix. Metatranscriptomic RNA-Seq data analyses showed an overall down regulation of metabolic transcripts, and an increased abundance of transcripts involved in circadian clock control, controlling the damage of oxidative stress, calcium signaling/homeostasis, cytoskeletal interactions, transcription regulation, DNA repair, Wnt signaling and apoptosis/immunity/ toxins. We suggest that increased maintenance costs under ocean acidification and warming, and diversion of cellular ATP to pH homeostasis, oxidative stress response, UPR and DNA repair, along with metabolic suppression, may underpin why Acroporid species tend not to thrive under future environmental stress. Our study highlights the potential increased energy demand when the coral holobiont is exposed to high levels of ocean warming and acidification.

  7. Transcriptomic Changes in Coral Holobionts Provide Insights into Physiological Challenges of Future Climate and Ocean Change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kaniewska, Paulina; Chan, Chon-Kit Kenneth; Kline, David; Ling, Edmund Yew Siang; Rosic, Nedeljka; Edwards, David; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove; Dove, Sophie

    2015-01-01

    Tropical reef-building coral stress levels will intensify with the predicted rising atmospheric CO2 resulting in ocean temperature and acidification increase. Most studies to date have focused on the destabilization of coral-dinoflagellate symbioses due to warming oceans, or declining calcification due to ocean acidification. In our study, pH and temperature conditions consistent with the end-of-century scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) caused major changes in photosynthesis and respiration, in addition to decreased calcification rates in the coral Acropora millepora. Population density of symbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium) under high levels of ocean acidification and temperature (Representative Concentration Pathway, RCP8.5) decreased to half of that found under present day conditions, with photosynthetic and respiratory rates also being reduced by 40%. These physiological changes were accompanied by evidence for gene regulation of calcium and bicarbonate transporters along with components of the organic matrix. Metatranscriptomic RNA-Seq data analyses showed an overall down regulation of metabolic transcripts, and an increased abundance of transcripts involved in circadian clock control, controlling the damage of oxidative stress, calcium signaling/homeostasis, cytoskeletal interactions, transcription regulation, DNA repair, Wnt signaling and apoptosis/immunity/ toxins. We suggest that increased maintenance costs under ocean acidification and warming, and diversion of cellular ATP to pH homeostasis, oxidative stress response, UPR and DNA repair, along with metabolic suppression, may underpin why Acroporid species tend not to thrive under future environmental stress. Our study highlights the potential increased energy demand when the coral holobiont is exposed to high levels of ocean warming and acidification.

  8. The northernmost coral frontier of the Maldives: The coral reefs of Ihavandippolu Atoll under long-term environmental change.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tkachenko, Konstantin S

    2012-12-01

    Ihavandippolu, the northernmost atoll of the Maldives, experienced severe coral bleaching and mortality in 1998 followed by several bleaching episodes in the last decade. Coral cover in the 11 study sites surveyed in July-December of 2011 in the 3-5 m depth range varied from 1.7 to 51%. Reefs of the islands located in the center of Ihavandippolu lagoon have exhibited a very low coral recovery since 1998 and remain mostly degraded 12 years after the impact. At the same time, some reefs, especially in the inner part of the eastern ring of the atoll, demonstrate a high coral cover (>40%) with a dominance of branching Acropora that is known to be one of the coral genera that is most susceptible to thermal stress. The last severe bleaching event in 2010 resulted in high coral mortality in some sites of the atoll. Differences in coral mortality rates and proportion between "susceptible" and "resistant" taxa in study sites are apparently related to long-term adaptation and local hydrological features that can mitigate thermal impacts. Abundant herbivorous fish observed in the atoll prevent coral overgrowth by macroalgae even on degraded reefs. Despite the frequent influence of temperature anomalies and having less geomorphologic refuges for coral survivals than other larger Maldivian atolls, a major part of observed coral communities in Ihavandippolu Atoll exhibits high resilience and potential for further acclimatization to a changing environment. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  9. Effects of titanium dioxide (TiO2 ) nanoparticles on caribbean reef-building coral (Montastraea faveolata).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jovanović, Boris; Guzmán, Héctor M

    2014-06-01

    Increased use of manufactured titanium dioxide nanoparticles (nano-TiO2 ) is causing a rise in their concentration in the aquatic environment, including coral reef ecosystems. Caribbean mountainous star coral (Montastraea faveolata) has frequently been used as a model species to study gene expression during stress and bleaching events. Specimens of M. faveolata were collected in Panama and exposed for 17 d to nano-TiO2 suspensions (0.1 mg L(-1) and 10 mg L(-1) ). Exposure to nano-TiO2 caused significant zooxanthellae expulsion in all the colonies, without mortality. Induction of the gene for heat-shock protein 70 (HSP70) was observed during an early stage of exposure (day 2), indicating acute stress. However, there was no statistical difference in HSP70 expression on day 7 or 17, indicating possible coral acclimation and recovery from stress. No other genes were significantly upregulated. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry analysis revealed that nano-TiO2 was predominantly trapped and stored within the posterior layer of the coral fragment (burrowing sponges, bacterial and fungal mats). The bioconcentration factor in the posterior layer was close to 600 after exposure to 10 mg L(-1) of nano-TiO2 for 17 d. The transient increase in HSP70, expulsion of zooxanthellae, and bioaccumulation of nano-TiO2 in the microflora of the coral colony indicate the potential of such exposure to induce stress and possibly contribute to an overall decrease in coral populations. © 2014 SETAC.

  10. Evaluation of Stony Coral Indicators for Coral Reef Management.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Colonies of reef-building stony corals at 57 stations around St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands were characterized by species, size and percentage of living tissue. Taxonomic, biological and physical indicators of coral condition were derived from these measurements and assessed for ...

  11. Caribbean corals house shared and host-specific microbial symbionts over time and space.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chu, Nathaniel D; Vollmer, Steven V

    2016-08-01

    The rise of coral diseases has triggered a surge of interest in coral microbial communities. But to fully understand how the coral microbiome may cause or respond to disease, we must first understand structure and variation in the healthy coral microbiome. We used 16S rRNA sequencing to characterize the microbiomes of 100 healthy coral colonies from six Caribbean coral species (Acropora cervicornis, A. palmata, Diploria labyrinthiformis, Diploria strigosa, Porites astreoides and P. furcata) across four reefs and three time points over 1 year. We found host species to be the strongest driver of coral microbiome structure across site and time. Analysis of the core microbiome revealed remarkable similarity in the bacterial taxa represented across coral hosts and many bacterial phylotypes shared across all corals sampled. Some of these widespread bacterial taxa have been identified in Pacific corals, indicating that a core coral microbiome may extend across oceans. Core bacterial phylotypes that were unique to each coral were taxonomically diverse, suggesting that different coral hosts provide persistent, divergent niches for bacteria. © 2016 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  12. Evaluating the potential of natural reproduction and artificial techniques to increase Acropora cervicornis populations at Discovery Bay, Jamaica

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Norman J Quinn

    2006-12-01

    Full Text Available Shallow water Acropora species have become uncommon on north coast Jamaican coral reefs owing to a number of factors. On many reefs, algae have taken their place. The result is loss of habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates and less attractive reefs with fewer fish. These reefs appear to be prime candidates for coral restoration. However, the potential for coral to naturally recover should be examined before efforts to restore reefs are undertaken. Reef restoration is unnecessary if the population has the capacity to recovery through natural means. We observed that the rate of settlement of Acropora spat in the Caribbean is much lower than the spat settlement rate of several other Caribbean coral families and much lower than Acropora spat settlement rates in the South Pacific. A very low percentage of apparently healthy colonies of A. cervicornis possessed developing gametes in July 2005, a month before spawning. It appears that the long-term survival of remnant A. cervicornis populations is threatened unless successful sexual reproduction is restored. Several techniques were used to test transplant methods for restoring A. cervicornis populations. The mean survivorship and growth rate of one technique was >75% and nearly 250% per annum, respectively. Working with hotel operators, environmental groups, and local fishers, we are attempting to reintroduce A. cervicornis to sites where it previously existed and increase coral biomass and complexity at these sites. Reefs with greater A. cervicornis biomass have larger edible fish populations. With localized protection of these restored reefs we anticipate an increase of larger edible fish not only on reefs within the restored protected areas but also on adjacent reefs. Furthermore, increased coral and fish biodiversity improves the attractiveness of the reef community for divers and snorkelers. Rev. Biol. Trop. 54 (Suppl. 3: 105-116. Epub 2007 Jan. 15.Las especies someras de Acropora se

  13. First record of multi-species synchronous coral spawning from Malaysia

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Alvin Chelliah

    2015-02-01

    Full Text Available Knowledge about the timing and synchrony of coral spawning has important implications for both the ecology and management of coral reef ecosystems. Data on the timing of spawning and extent of synchrony, however, are still lacking for many coral reefs, particularly from equatorial regions and from locations within the coral triangle. Here we present the first documentation of a multi-species coral spawning event from reefs around Pulau Tioman, Peninsular Malaysia, a popular diving and tourist destination located on the edge of the coral triangle. At least 8 coral species from 3 genera (Acropora, Montipora and Porites participated in multi-species spawning over five nights in April 2014, between two nights before and two nights after the full moon. In addition, two Acropora species were witnessed spawning one night prior to the full moon in October 2014. While two of the Acropora species that reproduced in April (A. millepora and A. nasuta exhibited highly synchronous spawning (100% of sampled colonies, two other common species (A. hyacinthus and A. digitifera did not contain visible eggs in the majority of colonies sampled (i.e., <15% of colonies in either April or October, suggesting that these species spawn at other times of the year. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first detailed documented observation of multi-species coral spawning from reefs in Malaysia. These data provide further support for the contention that this phenomenon is a feature of all speciose coral assemblages, including equatorial reefs. More research is needed, however, to determine the seasonal cycles and extent of spawning synchrony on these reefs and elsewhere in Malaysia.

  14. The continuing decline of coral reefs in Bahrain.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Burt, John A; Al-Khalifa, Khalifa; Khalaf, Ebtesam; Alshuwaikh, Bassem; Abdulwahab, Ahmed

    2013-07-30

    Historically coral reefs of Bahrain were among the most extensive in the southern basin of the Arabian Gulf. However, Bahrain's reefs have undergone significant decline in the last four decades as a result of large-scale coastal development and elevated sea surface temperature events. Here we quantitatively surveyed six sites including most major coral reef habitats around Bahrain and a reef located 72 km offshore. Fleshy and turf algae now dominate Bahrain's reefs (mean: 72% cover), and live coral cover is low (mean: 5.1%). Formerly dominant Acropora were not observed at any site. The offshore Bulthama reef had the highest coral cover (16.3%) and species richness (22 of the 23 species observed, 13 of which were exclusive to this site). All reefs for which recent and historical data are available show continued degradation, and it is unlikely that they will recover under continuing coastal development and projected climate change impacts. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  15. Histological observations on the scleractinian coral Porites lutea affected by pink-line syndrome

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Ravindran, J.; Raghukumar, C.

    A pink-line syndrome (PLS) was reported in the reef building coral Porites lutea in Kavaratti island of the Lakshadweep archipelago. The affected corals had dead patches colonized by a cyanobacterium Phormidium valderianum and the bordering coral...

  16. Prey selection of corallivorous muricids at Koh Tao (Gulf of Thailand) four years after a major coral bleaching event

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Moerland, M.S.; Scott, C.M.; Hoeksema, B.W.

    2016-01-01

    Corallivorous Drupella (Muricidae) snails at Koh Tao are reported to have extended their range of prey species following a major coral bleaching event in 2010. Populations of their preferred Acropora prey had locally diminished in both size and abundance, and the snails had introduced free-living

  17. Chemotaxis by natural populations of coral reef bacteria.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tout, Jessica; Jeffries, Thomas C; Petrou, Katherina; Tyson, Gene W; Webster, Nicole S; Garren, Melissa; Stocker, Roman; Ralph, Peter J; Seymour, Justin R

    2015-08-01

    Corals experience intimate associations with distinct populations of marine microorganisms, but the microbial behaviours underpinning these relationships are poorly understood. There is evidence that chemotaxis is pivotal to the infection process of corals by pathogenic bacteria, but this evidence is limited to experiments using cultured isolates under laboratory conditions. We measured the chemotactic capabilities of natural populations of coral-associated bacteria towards chemicals released by corals and their symbionts, including amino acids, carbohydrates, ammonium and dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). Laboratory experiments, using a modified capillary assay, and in situ measurements, using a novel microfabricated in situ chemotaxis assay, were employed to quantify the chemotactic responses of natural microbial assemblages on the Great Barrier Reef. Both approaches showed that bacteria associated with the surface of the coral species Pocillopora damicornis and Acropora aspera exhibited significant levels of chemotaxis, particularly towards DMSP and amino acids, and that these levels of chemotaxis were significantly higher than that of bacteria inhabiting nearby, non-coral-associated waters. This pattern was supported by a significantly higher abundance of chemotaxis and motility genes in metagenomes within coral-associated water types. The phylogenetic composition of the coral-associated chemotactic microorganisms, determined using 16S rRNA amplicon pyrosequencing, differed from the community in the seawater surrounding the coral and comprised known coral associates, including potentially pathogenic Vibrio species. These findings indicate that motility and chemotaxis are prevalent phenotypes among coral-associated bacteria, and we propose that chemotaxis has an important role in the establishment and maintenance of specific coral-microbe associations, which may ultimately influence the health and stability of the coral holobiont.

  18. Coral thermal tolerance: tuning gene expression to resist thermal stress.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Anthony J Bellantuono

    Full Text Available The acclimatization capacity of corals is a critical consideration in the persistence of coral reefs under stresses imposed by global climate change. The stress history of corals plays a role in subsequent response to heat stress, but the transcriptomic changes associated with these plastic changes have not been previously explored. In order to identify host transcriptomic changes associated with acquired thermal tolerance in the scleractinian coral Acropora millepora, corals preconditioned to a sub-lethal temperature of 3°C below bleaching threshold temperature were compared to both non-preconditioned corals and untreated controls using a cDNA microarray platform. After eight days of hyperthermal challenge, conditions under which non-preconditioned corals bleached and preconditioned corals (thermal-tolerant maintained Symbiodinium density, a clear differentiation in the transcriptional profiles was revealed among the condition examined. Among these changes, nine differentially expressed genes separated preconditioned corals from non-preconditioned corals, with 42 genes differentially expressed between control and preconditioned treatments, and 70 genes between non-preconditioned corals and controls. Differentially expressed genes included components of an apoptotic signaling cascade, which suggest the inhibition of apoptosis in preconditioned corals. Additionally, lectins and genes involved in response to oxidative stress were also detected. One dominant pattern was the apparent tuning of gene expression observed between preconditioned and non-preconditioned treatments; that is, differences in expression magnitude were more apparent than differences in the identity of genes differentially expressed. Our work revealed a transcriptomic signature underlying the tolerance associated with coral thermal history, and suggests that understanding the molecular mechanisms behind physiological acclimatization would be critical for the modeling of reefs

  19. The demise of a major Acropora palmata bank-barrier reef off the southeast coast of Barbados, West Indies

    Science.gov (United States)

    MacIntyre, I. G.; Glynn, P. W.; Toscano, M. A.

    2007-12-01

    Formerly attributed to human activity, the demise of a bank-barrier reef off southeastern Barbados known as Cobbler’s Reef is now thought to be largely the result of late Holocene, millennial-scale storm damage. Eleven surface samples of the reef crest coral Acropora palmata from nine sites along its 15-km length plot above the western Atlantic sea-level curve from 3,000 to 4,500 cal years ago (calibrated, calendar 14C years). These elevated clusters suggest that the reef complex suffered extensive storm damage during this period. The constant heavy wave action typical of this area and consequent low herbivory maintain conditions favoring algal growth, thereby limiting the reestablishment of post-storm reef framework. Site descriptions and detailed line surveys show a surface now composed mainly of reworked fragments of A. palmata covered with algal turf, macroalgae and crustose coralline algae. The reef contains no live A. palmata and only a few scattered coral colonies consisting primarily of Diploria spp . and Porites astreoides, along with the hydrocoral Millepora complanata. A few in situ framework dates plot at expected depths for normal coral growth below the sea-level curve during and after the period of intense storm activity. The most recent of these in situ samples are 320 and 400 cal years old. Corals of this late period likely succumbed to high turbidity associated with land clearance for sugarcane agriculture in the mid-1600s.

  20. A Survey into Taxonomic and Physiological Differences of Symbiodinium sp., the Photosynthetic Symbiont of Reef-building Corals

    KAUST Repository

    Gong, Xianzhe

    2012-11-01

    The dinoflagellate genus Symbiodinium is a popular research topic in the coral reef molecular biology field. Primarily because these organisms serve as the coral holobiont’s primary source of energy, carrying out photosynthesis, and providing hydrocarbons to the coral host. Previous studies have shown the difficulty of isolating Symbiodinium as well as the inherent problems in trying to quantify the diversity of this genus and to qualify the distinct reactions of different Symbiodinium sp. to changing environmental conditions. The main goals of this study are: (1) to detail the relationship between the genetic classification of the organism and its physiology in regard to photosynthesis with a number of established Symbiodinium cultures; and (2) to isolate Symbiodinium from coral of the central Red Sea. To evaluate the photosynthetic physiology of Symbiodinium, a microsensor was used to measure oxygen concentrations along with a phytoplankton analyzer system that used pulse-amplitude-modulation (Phyto-PAM) to measure fluorescence. In order to identify the particular clade that the isolates belonged to, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) was used to identify Symbiodinium based on their internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) region. These techniques helped us to achieve our goals in the following ways: Symbiodinium sp. from a culture collection were classified to the subclade level; species-specific and clade-specific photosynthetic profiles were generated; and a Symbiodinium sp. was isolated from the central Red Sea. This study provided preliminary correlation between the photosynthetic difference and Symbiodinium genetic classification; showed the probable existence of a self-protection system inside the Symbiodinium cells by comparing the difference between the initial oxygen production at the beginning of each light step and the oxygen production after light adaptation; and confirmed the possibility of the isolation of Symbiodinium.

  1. Early signs of recovery of Acropora palmata in St. John, US Virgin Islands

    Science.gov (United States)

    Muller, E.M.; Rogers, Caroline S.; van Woesik, R.

    2014-01-01

    Since the 1980s, diseases have caused significant declines in the population of the threatened Caribbean coral Acropora palmata. Yet it is largely unknown whether the population densities have recovered from these declines and whether there have been any recent shifts in size-frequency distributions toward large colonies. It is also unknown whether colony size influences the risk of disease infection, the most common stressor affecting this species. To address these unknowns, we examined A. palmata colonies at ten sites around St. John, US Virgin Islands, in 2004 and 2010. The prevalence of white-pox disease was highly variable among sites, ranging from 0 to 53 %, and this disease preferentially targeted large colonies. We found that colony density did not significantly change over the 6-year period, although six out of ten sites showed higher densities through time. The size-frequency distributions of coral colonies at all sites were positively skewed in both 2004 and 2010, however, most sites showed a temporal shift toward more large-sized colonies. This increase in large-sized colonies occurred despite the presence of white-pox disease, a severe bleaching event, and several storms. This study provides evidence of slow recovery of the A. palmata population around St. John despite the persistence of several stressors.

  2. Does body type really matter? Relating climate change, coral morphology and resiliency

    Science.gov (United States)

    Camp, M.; Shein, K. A.; Foster, K.; Hendee, J. C.

    2016-02-01

    Average sea temperatures in many tropical regions are rising approximately 1-2˚C per century, and are thought to be a major driver of increased frequency of coral bleaching. However, certain coral morphologies appear to be more resilient to changes in the environment, particularly to sea temperature variations resulting from global climate change. Although branching corals (e.g., Acropora cervicornis, A. palmata) are highly susceptible to coral bleaching, this morphology is commonly used in coral restoration efforts because of its fast growth rate. Massive corals show higher resistance and resilience to elevated temperature events than branching species, but are less common in coral nurseries. The objective of this study was to compare coral resilience among morphology types in Little Cayman, a remote tropical island with <200 inhabitants where it is possible to decouple environmental and anthropogenic stressors. Three morphological groups (branching, intermediary and massive) were surveyed at 17 sites to estimate the percent cover of each group. Temperature profiles were observed at six moorings around the island, allowing for direct comparison between sea surface temperature, sea temperature at the reef depths, and coral cover, per morphology. The relationship between coral morphological coverage and temperature variation at depth was assessed in the context of geographic variation around the island. Understanding the relationship between coral morphology and resilience to temperature variability will enhance current coral restoration practices by identifying which morphologies have the highest chance of long-term survivorship following outplanting, concurrently optimizing cumulative reef survivorship.

  3. Variation in size frequency distribution of coral populations under different fishing pressures in two contrasting locations in the Indian Ocean.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Grimsditch, G; Pisapia, C; Huck, M; Karisa, J; Obura, D; Sweet, M

    2017-10-01

    This study aimed to assess how the size-frequency distributions of coral genera varied between reefs under different fishing pressures in two contrasting Indian Ocean locations (the Maldives and East Africa). Using generalized linear mixed models, we were able to demonstrate that complex interactions occurred between coral genera, coral size class and fishing pressure. In both locations, we found Acropora coral species to be more abundant in non-fished compared to fished sites (a pattern which was consistent for nearly all the assessed size classes). Coral genera classified as 'stress tolerant' showed a contrasting pattern i.e. were higher in abundance in fished compared to non-fished sites. Site specific variations were also observed. For example, Maldivian reefs exhibited a significantly higher abundance in all size classes of 'competitive' corals compared to East Africa. This possibly indicates that East African reefs have already been subjected to higher levels of stress and are therefore less suitable environments for 'competitive' corals. This study also highlights the potential structure and composition of reefs under future degradation scenarios, for example with a loss of Acropora corals and an increase in dominance of 'stress tolerant' and 'generalist' coral genera. Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

  4. Facilitation in Caribbean coral reefs: high densities of staghorn coral foster greater coral condition and reef fish composition.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Huntington, Brittany E; Miller, Margaret W; Pausch, Rachel; Richter, Lee

    2017-05-01

    Recovery of the threatened staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) is posited to play a key role in Caribbean reef resilience. At four Caribbean locations (including one restored and three extant populations), we quantified characteristics of contemporary staghorn coral across increasing conspecific densities, and investigated a hypothesis of facilitation between staghorn coral and reef fishes. High staghorn densities in the Dry Tortugas exhibited significantly less partial mortality, higher branch growth, and supported greater fish abundances compared to lower densities within the same population. In contrast, partial mortality, branch growth, and fish community composition did not vary with staghorn density at the three other study locations where staghorn densities were lower overall. This suggests that density-dependent effects between the coral and fish community may only manifest at high staghorn densities. We then evaluated one facilitative mechanism for such density-dependence, whereby abundant fishes sheltering in dense staghorn aggregations deliver nutrients back to the coral, fueling faster coral growth, thereby creating more fish habitat. Indeed, dense staghorn aggregations within the Dry Tortugas exhibited significantly higher growth rates, tissue nitrogen, and zooxanthellae densities than sparse aggregations. Similarly, higher tissue nitrogen was induced in a macroalgae bioassay outplanted into the same dense and sparse aggregations, confirming greater bioavailability of nutrients at high staghorn densities. Our findings inform staghorn restoration efforts, suggesting that the most effective targets may be higher coral densities than previously thought. These coral-dense aggregations may reap the benefits of positive facilitation between the staghorn and fish community, favoring the growth and survivorship of this threatened species.

  5. The structure and composition of Holocene coral reefs in the Middle Florida Keys

    Science.gov (United States)

    Toth, Lauren T.; Stathakopoulos, Anastasios; Kuffner, Ilsa B.

    2016-07-21

    The Florida Keys reef tract (FKRT) is the largest coral-reef ecosystem in the continental United States. The modern FKRT extends for 362 kilometers along the coast of South Florida from Dry Tortugas National Park in the southwest, through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), to Fowey Rocks reef in Biscayne National Park in the northeast. Most reefs along the FKRT are sheltered by the exposed islands of the Florida Keys; however, large channels are located between the islands of the Middle Keys. These openings allow for tidal transport of water from Florida Bay onto reefs in the area. The characteristics of the water masses coming from Florida Bay, which can experience broad swings in temperature, salinity, nutrients, and turbidity over short periods of time, are generally unfavorable or “inimical” to coral growth and reef development.Although reef habitats are ubiquitous throughout most of the Upper and Lower Keys, relatively few modern reefs exist in the Middle Keys most likely because of the impacts of inimical waters from Florida Bay. The reefs that are present in the Middle Keys generally are poorly developed compared with reefs elsewhere in the region. For example, Acropora palmata has been the dominant coral on shallow-water reefs in the Caribbean over the last 1.5 million years until populations of the coral declined throughout the region in recent decades. Although A. palmata was historically abundant in the Florida Keys, it was conspicuously absent from reefs in the Middle Keys. Instead, contemporary reefs in the Middle Keys have been dominated by occasional massive (that is, boulder or head) corals and, more often, small, non-reef-building corals.Holocene reef cores have been collected from many locations along the FKRT; however, despite the potential importance of the history of reefs in the Middle Florida Keys to our understanding of the environmental controls on reef development throughout the FKRT, there are currently no published

  6. New insights into the dynamics between reef corals and their associated dinoflagellate endosymbionts from population genetic studies.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baums, Iliana B; Devlin-Durante, Meghann K; LaJeunesse, Todd C

    2014-09-01

    The mutualistic symbioses between reef-building corals and micro-algae form the basis of coral reef ecosystems, yet recent environmental changes threaten their survival. Diversity in host-symbiont pairings on the sub-species level could be an unrecognized source of functional variation in response to stress. The Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, associates predominantly with one symbiont species (Symbiodinium 'fitti'), facilitating investigations of individual-level (genotype) interactions. Individual genotypes of both host and symbiont were resolved across the entire species' range. Most colonies of a particular animal genotype were dominated by one symbiont genotype (or strain) that may persist in the host for decades or more. While Symbiodinium are primarily clonal, the occurrence of recombinant genotypes indicates sexual recombination is the source of this genetic variation, and some evidence suggests this happens within the host. When these data are examined at spatial scales spanning the entire distribution of A. palmata, gene flow among animal populations was an order of magnitude greater than among populations of the symbiont. This suggests that independent micro-evolutionary processes created dissimilar population genetic structures between host and symbiont. The lower effective dispersal exhibited by the dinoflagellate raises questions regarding the extent to which populations of host and symbiont can co-evolve during times of rapid and substantial climate change. However, these findings also support a growing body of evidence, suggesting that genotype-by-genotype interactions may provide significant physiological variation, influencing the adaptive potential of symbiotic reef corals to severe selection. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  7. Modeled connectivity of Acropora millepora populations from reefs of the Spratly Islands and the greater South China Sea

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dorman, Jeffrey G.; Castruccio, Frederic S.; Curchitser, Enrique N.; Kleypas, Joan A.; Powell, Thomas M.

    2016-03-01

    The Spratly Island archipelago is a remote network of coral reefs and islands in the South China Sea that is a likely source of coral larvae to the greater region, but about which little is known. Using a particle-tracking model driven by oceanographic data from the Coral Triangle region, we simulated both spring and fall spawning events of Acropora millepora, a common coral species, over a 46-yr period (1960-2005). Simulated population biology of A. millepora included the acquisition and loss of competency, settlement over appropriate benthic habitat, and mortality based on experimental data. The simulations aimed to provide insights into the connectivity of reefs within the Spratly Islands, the settlement of larvae on reefs of the greater South China Sea, and the potential dispersal range of reef organisms from the Spratly Islands. Results suggest that (1) the Spratly Islands may be a significant source of A. millepora larvae for the Palawan reefs (Philippines) and some of the most isolated reefs of the South China Sea; and (2) the relatively isolated western Spratly Islands have limited source reefs supplying them with larvae and fewer of their larvae successfully settling on other reefs. Examination of particle dispersal without biology (settlement and mortality) suggests that larval connectivity is possible throughout the South China Sea and into the Coral Triangle region. Strong differences in the spring versus fall larval connectivity and dispersal highlight the need for a greater understanding of spawning dynamics of the region. This study confirms that the Spratly Islands are likely an important source of larvae for the South China Sea and Coral Triangle region.

  8. Metabolite Profiling of Red Sea Corals

    KAUST Repository

    Ortega, Jovhana Alejandra

    2016-12-01

    Looking at the metabolite profile of an organism provides insights into the metabolomic state of a cell and hence also into pathways employed. Little is known about the metabolites produced by corals and their algal symbionts. In particular, corals from the central Red Sea are understudied, but interesting study objects, as they live in one of the warmest and most saline environments and can provide clues as to the adjustment of corals to environmental change. In this study, we applied gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC–MS) metabolite profiling to analyze the metabolic profile of four coral species and their associated symbionts: Fungia granulosa, Acropora hemprichii, Porites lutea, and Pocillopora verrucosa. We identified and quantified 102 compounds among primary and secondary metabolites across all samples. F. granulosa and its symbiont showed a total of 59 metabolites which were similar to the 51 displayed by P. verrucosa. P. lutea and A. hemprichii both harbored 40 compounds in conjunction with their respective isolated algae. Comparing across species, 28 metabolites were exclusively present in algae, while 38 were exclusive to corals. A principal component and cluster analyses revealed that metabolite profiles clustered between corals and algae, but each species harbored a distinct catalog of metabolites. The major classes of compounds were carbohydrates and amino acids. Taken together, this study provides a first description of metabolites of Red Sea corals and their associated symbionts. As expected, the metabolites of coral hosts differ from their algal symbionts, but each host and algal species harbor a unique set of metabolites. This corroborates that host-symbiont species pairs display a fine-tuned complementary metabolism that provide insights into the specific nature of the symbiosis. Our analysis also revealed aquatic pollutants, which suggests that metabolite profiling might be used for monitoring pollution levels and assessing

  9. Local Stressors, Resilience, and Shifting Baselines on Coral Reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    McLean, Matthew; Cuetos-Bueno, Javier; Nedlic, Osamu; Luckymiss, Marston; Houk, Peter

    2016-01-01

    Understanding how and why coral reefs have changed over the last twenty to thirty years is crucial for sustaining coral-reef resilience. We used a historical baseline from Kosrae, a typical small island in Micronesia, to examine changes in fish and coral assemblages since 1986. We found that natural gradients in the spatial distribution of fish and coral assemblages have become amplified, as island geography is now a stronger determinant of species abundance patterns, and habitat forming Acropora corals and large-bodied fishes that were once common on the leeward side of the island have become scarce. A proxy for fishing access best predicted the relative change in fish assemblage condition over time, and in turn, declining fish condition was the only factor correlated with declining coral condition, suggesting overfishing may have reduced ecosystem resilience. Additionally, a proxy for watershed pollution predicted modern coral assemblage condition, suggesting pollution is also reducing resilience in densely populated areas. Altogether, it appears that unsustainable fishing reduced ecosystem resilience, as fish composition has shifted to smaller species in lower trophic levels, driven by losses of large predators and herbivores. While prior literature and anecdotal reports indicate that major disturbance events have been rare in Kosrae, small localized disturbances coupled with reduced resilience may have slowly degraded reef condition through time. Improving coral-reef resilience in the face of climate change will therefore require improved understanding and management of growing artisanal fishing pressure and watershed pollution.

  10. Local Stressors, Resilience, and Shifting Baselines on Coral Reefs.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Matthew McLean

    Full Text Available Understanding how and why coral reefs have changed over the last twenty to thirty years is crucial for sustaining coral-reef resilience. We used a historical baseline from Kosrae, a typical small island in Micronesia, to examine changes in fish and coral assemblages since 1986. We found that natural gradients in the spatial distribution of fish and coral assemblages have become amplified, as island geography is now a stronger determinant of species abundance patterns, and habitat forming Acropora corals and large-bodied fishes that were once common on the leeward side of the island have become scarce. A proxy for fishing access best predicted the relative change in fish assemblage condition over time, and in turn, declining fish condition was the only factor correlated with declining coral condition, suggesting overfishing may have reduced ecosystem resilience. Additionally, a proxy for watershed pollution predicted modern coral assemblage condition, suggesting pollution is also reducing resilience in densely populated areas. Altogether, it appears that unsustainable fishing reduced ecosystem resilience, as fish composition has shifted to smaller species in lower trophic levels, driven by losses of large predators and herbivores. While prior literature and anecdotal reports indicate that major disturbance events have been rare in Kosrae, small localized disturbances coupled with reduced resilience may have slowly degraded reef condition through time. Improving coral-reef resilience in the face of climate change will therefore require improved understanding and management of growing artisanal fishing pressure and watershed pollution.

  11. Distinct Bacterial Communities Associated with Massive and Branching Scleractinian Corals and Potential Linkages to Coral Susceptibility to Thermal or Cold Stress

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jiayuan Liang

    2017-06-01

    Full Text Available It is well known that different coral species have different tolerances to thermal or cold stress, which is presumed to be related to the density of Symbiodinium. However, the intrinsic factors between stress-tolerant characteristics and coral-associated bacteria are rarely studied. In this study, 16 massive coral and 9 branching coral colonies from 6 families, 10 genera, and 18 species were collected at the same time and location (Xinyi Reef in the South China Sea to investigate the bacterial communities. The results of an alpha diversity analysis showed that bacterial diversities associated with massive corals were generally higher than those with branching corals at different taxonomic levels (phylum, class, order, and so on. In addition, hierarchical clustering tree and PCoA analyses showed that coral species were clustered into two large groups according to the similarity of bacterial communities. Group I consisted of massive Goniastrea, Plesiastrea, Leptastrea, Platygyra, Echinopora, Porites, and Leptoria, and group II consisted of branching Acropora and Pocillopora. These findings suggested that both massive corals and branching corals have their own preference for the choice of associated bacteria, which may be involved in observed differences in thermal/cold tolerances. Further analysis found that 55 bacterial phyla, including 43 formally described phyla and 12 candidate phyla, were detected in these coral species. Among them, 52 phyla were recovered from the massive coral group, and 46 phyla were recovered from the branching coral group. Formally described coral pathogens have not been detected in these coral species, suggesting that they are less likely to be threatened by disease in this geographic area. This study highlights a clear relationship between the high complexity of bacterial community associated with coral, skeletal morphology of coral and potentially tolerances to thermal or cold stress.

  12. Rapid evolution of coral proteins responsible for interaction with the environment.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Voolstra, Christian R; Sunagawa, Shinichi; Matz, Mikhail V; Bayer, Till; Aranda, Manuel; Buschiazzo, Emmanuel; Desalvo, Michael K; Lindquist, Erika; Szmant, Alina M; Coffroth, Mary Alice; Medina, Mónica

    2011-01-01

    Corals worldwide are in decline due to climate change effects (e.g., rising seawater temperatures), pollution, and exploitation. The ability of corals to cope with these stressors in the long run depends on the evolvability of the underlying genetic networks and proteins, which remain largely unknown. A genome-wide scan for positively selected genes between related coral species can help to narrow down the search space considerably. We screened a set of 2,604 putative orthologs from EST-based sequence datasets of the coral species Acropora millepora and Acropora palmata to determine the fraction and identity of proteins that may experience adaptive evolution. 7% of the orthologs show elevated rates of evolution. Taxonomically-restricted (i.e. lineage-specific) genes show a positive selection signature more frequently than genes that are found across many animal phyla. The class of proteins that displayed elevated evolutionary rates was significantly enriched for proteins involved in immunity and defense, reproduction, and sensory perception. We also found elevated rates of evolution in several other functional groups such as management of membrane vesicles, transmembrane transport of ions and organic molecules, cell adhesion, and oxidative stress response. Proteins in these processes might be related to the endosymbiotic relationship corals maintain with dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium. This study provides a birds-eye view of the processes potentially underlying coral adaptation, which will serve as a foundation for future work to elucidate the rates, patterns, and mechanisms of corals' evolutionary response to global climate change.

  13. Effects of temperature and salinity on survival rate of cultured corals and photosynthetic efficiency of zooxanthellae in coral tissues

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kuanui, Pataporn; Chavanich, Suchana; Viyakarn, Voranop; Omori, Makoto; Lin, Chiahsin

    2015-06-01

    This study investigated the effects of temperature and salinity on growth, survival, and photosynthetic efficiency of three coral species, namely, Pocillopora damicornis, Acropora millepora and Platygyra sinensis of different ages (6 and 18 months old). The experimental corals were cultivated via sexual propagation. Colonies were exposed to 5 different temperatures (18, 23, 28, 33, and 38°C) and 5 different salinities (22, 27, 32, 37, and 42 psu). Results showed that temperature significantly affected photosynthetic efficiency (Fv/Fm) (p < 0.05) compared to salinity. The maximum quantum yield of corals decreased ranging from 5% to 100% when these corals were exposed to different temperatures and salinities. Temperature also significantly affected coral growth and survival. However, corals exposed to changes in salinity showed higher survivorship than those exposed to changes in temperature. Results in this study also showed that corals of different ages and of different species did not display the same physiological responses to changes in environmental conditions. Thus, the ability of corals to tolerate salinity and temperature stresses depends on several factors.

  14. Infection Dynamics Vary between Symbiodinium Types and Cell Surface Treatments during Establishment of Endosymbiosis with Coral Larvae

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Bette Lynn Willis

    2011-07-01

    Full Text Available Symbioses between microbes and higher organisms underpin high diversity in many ecosystems, including coral reefs, however mechanisms underlying the early establishment of symbioses remain unclear. Here we examine the roles of Symbiodinium type and cell surface recognition in the establishment of algal endosymbiosis in the reef-building coral, Acropora tenuis. We found 20–70% higher infection success (proportion of larvae infected and five-fold higher Symbiodinium abundance in larvae exposed to ITS-1 type C1 compared to ITS-1 type D in the first 96 h following exposure. The highest abundance of Symbiodinium within larvae occurred when C1-type cells were treated with enzymes that modified the 40–100 kD glycome, including glycoproteins and long chain starch residues. Our finding of declining densities of Symbiodinium C1 through time in the presence of intact cell surface molecules supports a role for cell surface recognition molecules in controlling post-phagocytosis processes, leading to rejection of some Symbiodinium types in early ontogeny. Reductions in the densities of unmodified C1 symbionts after 96 h, in contrast to increases in D symbionts may suggest the early initiation of a winnowing process contributing to the establishment of Symbiodinium D as the dominant type in one-month old juveniles of A. tenuis.

  15. A snapshot of a coral "holobiont": a transcriptome assembly of the scleractinian coral, porites, captures a wide variety of genes from both the host and symbiotic zooxanthellae.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shinzato, Chuya; Inoue, Mayuri; Kusakabe, Makoto

    2014-01-01

    Massive scleractinian corals of the genus Porites are important reef builders in the Indo-Pacific, and they are more resistant to thermal stress than other stony corals, such as the genus Acropora. Because coral health and survival largely depend on the interaction between a coral host and its symbionts, it is important to understand the molecular interactions of an entire "coral holobiont". We simultaneously sequenced transcriptomes of Porites australiensis and its symbionts using the Illumina Hiseq2000 platform. We obtained 14.3 Gbp of sequencing data and assembled it into 74,997 contigs (average: 1,263 bp, N50 size: 2,037 bp). We successfully distinguished contigs originating from the host (Porites) and the symbiont (Symbiodinium) by aligning nucleotide sequences with the decoded Acropora digitifera and Symbiodinium minutum genomes. In contrast to previous coral transcriptome studies, at least 35% of the sequences were found to have originated from the symbionts, indicating that it is possible to analyze both host and symbiont transcriptomes simultaneously. Conserved protein domain and KEGG analyses showed that the dataset contains broad gene repertoires of both Porites and Symbiodinium. Effective utilization of sequence reads revealed that the polymorphism rate in P. australiensis is 1.0% and identified the major symbiotic Symbiodinium as Type C15. Analyses of amino acid biosynthetic pathways suggested that this Porites holobiont is probably able to synthesize most of the common amino acids and that Symbiodinium is potentially able to provide essential amino acids to its host. We believe this to be the first molecular evidence of complementarity in amino acid metabolism between coral hosts and their symbionts. We successfully assembled genes originating from both the host coral and the symbiotic Symbiodinium to create a snapshot of the coral holobiont transcriptome. This dataset will facilitate a deeper understanding of molecular mechanisms of coral symbioses

  16. A snapshot of a coral "holobiont": a transcriptome assembly of the scleractinian coral, porites, captures a wide variety of genes from both the host and symbiotic zooxanthellae.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Chuya Shinzato

    Full Text Available Massive scleractinian corals of the genus Porites are important reef builders in the Indo-Pacific, and they are more resistant to thermal stress than other stony corals, such as the genus Acropora. Because coral health and survival largely depend on the interaction between a coral host and its symbionts, it is important to understand the molecular interactions of an entire "coral holobiont". We simultaneously sequenced transcriptomes of Porites australiensis and its symbionts using the Illumina Hiseq2000 platform. We obtained 14.3 Gbp of sequencing data and assembled it into 74,997 contigs (average: 1,263 bp, N50 size: 2,037 bp. We successfully distinguished contigs originating from the host (Porites and the symbiont (Symbiodinium by aligning nucleotide sequences with the decoded Acropora digitifera and Symbiodinium minutum genomes. In contrast to previous coral transcriptome studies, at least 35% of the sequences were found to have originated from the symbionts, indicating that it is possible to analyze both host and symbiont transcriptomes simultaneously. Conserved protein domain and KEGG analyses showed that the dataset contains broad gene repertoires of both Porites and Symbiodinium. Effective utilization of sequence reads revealed that the polymorphism rate in P. australiensis is 1.0% and identified the major symbiotic Symbiodinium as Type C15. Analyses of amino acid biosynthetic pathways suggested that this Porites holobiont is probably able to synthesize most of the common amino acids and that Symbiodinium is potentially able to provide essential amino acids to its host. We believe this to be the first molecular evidence of complementarity in amino acid metabolism between coral hosts and their symbionts. We successfully assembled genes originating from both the host coral and the symbiotic Symbiodinium to create a snapshot of the coral holobiont transcriptome. This dataset will facilitate a deeper understanding of molecular mechanisms of

  17. Long-wavelength photosensitivity in coral planula larvae.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mason, Benjamin M; Cohen, Jonathan H

    2012-04-01

    Light influences the swimming behavior and settlement of the planktonic planula larvae of coral, but little is known regarding the photosensory biology of coral at this or any life-history stage. Here we used changes in the electrical activity of coral planula tissue upon light flashes to investigate the photosensitivity of the larvae. Recordings were made from five species: two whose larvae are brooded and contain algal symbionts (Porites astreoides and Agaricia agaricites), and three whose larvae are spawned and lack algal symbionts (Acropora cervicornis, Acropora palmata,and Montastrea faveolata). Photosensitivity originated from the coral larva rather than from, or in addition to, its algal symbionts as species with and without symbionts displayed similar tissue-level electrical responses to light. All species exhibited as much (or more) sensitivity to red stimuli as to blue/green stimuli, which is consistent with a role for long-wavelength visible light in the preference for substrata observed during settlement and in facilitating vertical positioning of larvae in the water column.

  18. Evidence of low molecular weight components in the organic matrix of the reef building coral, Stylophora pistillata.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Puverel, S; Houlbrèque, F; Tambutté, E; Zoccola, D; Payan, P; Caminiti, N; Tambutté, S; Allemand, D

    2007-08-01

    Biominerals contain both inorganic and organic components. Organic components are collectively termed the organic matrix, and this matrix has been reported to play a crucial role in mineralization. Several matrix proteins have been characterized in vertebrates, but only a few in invertebrates, primarily in Molluscs and Echinoderms. Methods classically used to extract organic matrix proteins eliminate potential low molecular weight matrix components, since cut-offs ranging from 3.5 to 10 kDa are used to desalt matrix extracts. Consequently, the presence of such components remains unknown and these are never subjected to further analyses. In the present study, we have used microcolonies from the Scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata to study newly synthesized matrix components by labelling them with 14C-labelled amino acids. Radioactive matrix components were investigated by a method in which both total organic matrix and fractions of matrix below and above 5 kDa were analyzed. Using this method and SDS-PAGE analyses, we were able to detect the presence of low molecular mass matrix components (weight molecules, these probably form the bulk of newly synthesized organic matrix components. Our results suggest that these low molecular weight components may be peptides, which can be involved in the regulation of coral skeleton mineralization.

  19. Patterns of bacteria-host associations suggest different ecological strategies between two reef building cold-water coral species

    Science.gov (United States)

    Meistertzheim, Anne.-Leila; Lartaud, Franck; Arnaud-Haond, Sophie; Kalenitchenko, Dimitri; Bessalam, Manon; Le Bris, Nadine; Galand, Pierre E.

    2016-08-01

    Cold-water corals (CWC) are main ecosystem engineers of the deep sea, and their reefs constitute hot-spots of biodiversity. However, their ecology remains poorly understood, particularly, the nature of the holobiont formed by corals with their associated bacterial communities. Here, we analyzed Madrepora oculata and Lophelia pertusa samples, collected from one location in a Mediterranean canyon in two different seasons (autumn and spring), in order to test for species specificity and temporal stability of the host-bacteria associations. The 16S rRNA sequencing revealed host-specific patterns of bacterial communities associated with L. pertusa and M. oculata, both in terms of community composition and diversity. All analyzed M. oculata polyps exhibited temporally and spatially similar bacterial communities dominated by haplotypes homologous to the known cnidarians-associated genus Endozoicomonas. In contrast, the bacterial communities associated with L. pertusa varied among polyps from the same colony, as well as among distinct colonies and between seasons. While the resilient consortium formed by M. oculata and its bacterial community fit the definition of holobiont, the versatility of the L. pertusa microbiome suggests that this association is more influenced by the environmental conditions or nutritional status. Our results thus highlight distinct host/microbes association strategies for these two closely related Scleractinians sharing the same habitat, suggesting distinct sensitivity to environmental change.

  20. The Alcyonacea (soft corals and sea fans) of Antsiranana Bay ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Alison J. Evans, Mark D. Steer and Elise M. S. Belle

    cal coral reef ecosystems than the reef - building Scleractinia. However ... Alcyonacea are vulnerable to the many potential threats facing coral .... of the indicator of characteristic Maximum Depth assigned to each site. ..... Marine and coastal.

  1. High genotypic diversity of the reef-building coral Porites lobata (Scleractinia: Poritidae in Isla del Coco National Park, Costa Rica

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jennifer N. Boulay

    2012-11-01

    Full Text Available The isolated Isla del Coco experiences periodic, extreme disturbances which devastate coral reefs surrounding the island. Scleractinian corals build the physical structure of the reef therefore ecosystem recovery relies on coral species recovery. Coral recruits can be of sexual or asexual origin, and the relative success of the two recruit types influences the speed and spread of recovery processes. Here we focus on the massive coral, Porites lobata, because it is the main reef-builder around Isla del Coco to describe the relative contribution of asexual and sexual recruits to population maintenance. P. lobata samples were collected using a spatially explicit random sampling design in three plots at Isla del Coco: Punta Ulloa (n=17, Bahía Weston (n=20 and Punta María (n=20 and samples were genotyped with 11 microsatellite markers. Additional sampling was conducted at three “coastal” sites near the Costa Rican mainland (Isla del Caño Biological Reserve: Caño1 (n=8, Caño2 (n=10, Caño5 (n=11 to compare the contributions of asexual and sexual recruits at Isla del Coco sites to coastal sites. Isla del Coco sites were characterized by small colony size (>60% of colonies <0.5m2 and high sexual reproduction. Sites were either mostly or entirely sexual,consisting of only unique genotypes (N G/N= 0.90-1.00; G O/G E=0.83-1.00; D=0.99-1.00. Although there were no significant differences in genetic diversity (number of alleles per locus, number of private alleles or colony size between Isla del Coco and the coastal sites, the coastal sites exhibited a greater range of genotypic diversity from moderately asexual (N G/N=0.5; G O/G E=0.36; D=0.8 to purely sexual (N G/N=1.0; G O/G E=1.0; D=1.0. The mode of asexual reproduction in P. lobata is likely fragmentation of adult colonies rather than asexual larval production because ramets of P. lobata occurred close together and asexually produced larvae have not been reported in gonochoric broadcast

  2. Red Sea Acropora hemprichii Bacterial Population Dynamics under Adverse Anthropogenic Conditions

    KAUST Repository

    Lizcano, Javier

    2012-08-01

    Reef-building corals are cornerstones of life in the oceans. Understanding their interactions with microorganisms and their surrounding physicochemical conditions is important to comprehend reef functioning and ultimately protect coral reef ecosystems. Corals associate with a complex and specific array of microorganisms that supposedly affect their physiology and therefore can significantly determine the condition of a coral ecosystem. As environmental conditions may shape bacterial diversity and ecology in the coral symbiosis, ecosystem changes might have unfavorable consequences for the holobiont, to date poorly understood. Here, we were studying microbial community changes in A. hemprichii as a consequence of simulated eutrophication and overfishing over a period of 16 weeks by using in situ caging and slow release fertilizer treatments in an undisturbed Red Sea reef (22.18ºN, 38.57ºW). We used 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing to evaluate the individual and combined effects of overnutrification and fishing pressure, two of the most common local threats to coral reefs. With our data we hope to better understand bacterial population dynamics under anthropogenic influences and its role in coral resilience. Projecting further, this data will be useful to better predict the consequences of human activity on reef ecosystems.

  3. The Role of Maternal Nutrition on Oocyte Size and Quality, with Respect to Early Larval Development in The Coral-Eating Starfish, Acanthaster planci.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ciemon Frank Caballes

    Full Text Available Variation in local environmental conditions can have pronounced effects on the population structure and dynamics of marine organisms. Previous studies on crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, have primarily focused on effects of water quality and nutrient availability on larval growth and survival, while the role of maternal nutrition on reproduction and larval development has been overlooked. To examine the effects of maternal nutrition on oocyte size and early larval development in A. planci, we pre-conditioned females for 60 days on alternative diets of preferred coral prey (Acropora abrotanoides versus non-preferred coral prey (Porites rus and compared resulting gametes and progeny to those produced by females that were starved over the same period. Females fed ad libitum with Acropora increased in weight, produced heavier gonads and produced larger oocytes compared to Porites-fed and starved females. Fed starfish (regardless of whether it was Acropora or Porites produced bigger larvae with larger stomachs and had a higher frequency of normal larvae that reached the late bipinnaria / early brachiolaria stage compared to starved starfish. Females on Acropora diet also produced a higher proportion of larvae that progressed to more advanced stages faster compared to Porites-fed starfish, which progressed faster than starved starfish. These results suggest that maternal provisioning can have important consequences for the quality and quantity of progeny. Because food quality (coral community structure and quantity (coral abundance varies widely among reef locations and habitats, local variation in maternal nutrition of A. planci is likely to moderate reproductive success and may explain temporal and spatial fluctuations in abundance of this species.

  4. The Role of Maternal Nutrition on Oocyte Size and Quality, with Respect to Early Larval Development in The Coral-Eating Starfish, Acanthaster planci.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Caballes, Ciemon Frank; Pratchett, Morgan S; Kerr, Alexander M; Rivera-Posada, Jairo A

    2016-01-01

    Variation in local environmental conditions can have pronounced effects on the population structure and dynamics of marine organisms. Previous studies on crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, have primarily focused on effects of water quality and nutrient availability on larval growth and survival, while the role of maternal nutrition on reproduction and larval development has been overlooked. To examine the effects of maternal nutrition on oocyte size and early larval development in A. planci, we pre-conditioned females for 60 days on alternative diets of preferred coral prey (Acropora abrotanoides) versus non-preferred coral prey (Porites rus) and compared resulting gametes and progeny to those produced by females that were starved over the same period. Females fed ad libitum with Acropora increased in weight, produced heavier gonads and produced larger oocytes compared to Porites-fed and starved females. Fed starfish (regardless of whether it was Acropora or Porites) produced bigger larvae with larger stomachs and had a higher frequency of normal larvae that reached the late bipinnaria / early brachiolaria stage compared to starved starfish. Females on Acropora diet also produced a higher proportion of larvae that progressed to more advanced stages faster compared to Porites-fed starfish, which progressed faster than starved starfish. These results suggest that maternal provisioning can have important consequences for the quality and quantity of progeny. Because food quality (coral community structure) and quantity (coral abundance) varies widely among reef locations and habitats, local variation in maternal nutrition of A. planci is likely to moderate reproductive success and may explain temporal and spatial fluctuations in abundance of this species.

  5. Inhibition in fertilisation of coral gametes following exposure to nickel and copper.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gissi, Francesca; Stauber, Jenny; Reichelt-Brushett, Amanda; Harrison, Peter L; Jolley, Dianne F

    2017-11-01

    The mining and production of nickel in tropical regions have the potential to impact on ecologically valuable tropical marine ecosystems. Currently, few data exist to assess the risks of nickel exposure to tropical ecosystems and to derive ecologically relevant water quality guidelines. In particular, data are lacking for keystone species such as scleractinian corals, which create the complex structural reef habitats that support many other marine species. As part of a larger study developing risk assessment tools for nickel in the tropical Asia-Pacific region, we investigated the toxicity of nickel on fertilisation success in three species of scleractinian corals: Acropora aspera, Acropora digitifera and Platygyra daedalea. In the literature, more data are available on the effects of copper on coral fertilisation, so to allow for comparisons with past studies, the toxicity of copper to A. aspera and P. daedalea was also determined. Overall, copper was more toxic than nickel to the fertilisation success of the species tested. Acropora aspera was the most sensitive species to nickel (NOEC 4610µg Ni/L). Acropora aspera was also the more sensitive species to copper with an EC10 of 5.8µg Cu/L. The EC10 for P. daedalea was 16µg Cu/L, similar to previous studies. This is the first time that the toxicity of nickel on fertilisation success in Acropora species has been reported, and thus provides valuable data that can contribute to the development of reliable water quality guidelines for nickel in tropical marine waters. Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Inc.

  6. Coral mass spawning predicted by rapid seasonal rise in ocean temperature

    KAUST Repository

    Keith, Sally A.; Maynard, Jeffrey A.; Edwards, Alasdair J.; Guest, James R.; Bauman, Andrew G.; van Hooidonk, Ruben; Heron, Scott F.; Berumen, Michael L.; Bouwmeester, Jessica; Piromvaragorn, Srisakul; Rahbek, Carsten; Baird, Andrew H.

    2016-01-01

    Coral spawning times have been linked to multiple environmental factors; however, to what extent these factors act as generalized cues across multiple species and large spatial scales is unknown. We used a unique dataset of coral spawning from 34 reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans to test if month of spawning and peak spawning month in assemblages of Acropora spp. can be predicted by sea surface temperature (SST), photosynthetically available radiation, wind speed, current speed, rainfall or sunset time. Contrary to the classic view that high mean SST initiates coral spawning, we found rapid increases in SST to be the best predictor in both cases (month of spawning: R2 = 0.73, peak: R2 = 0.62). Our findings suggest that a rapid increase in SST provides the dominant proximate cue for coral mass spawning over large geographical scales. We hypothesize that coral spawning is ultimately timed to ensure optimal fertilization success.

  7. Coral mass spawning predicted by rapid seasonal rise in ocean temperature

    KAUST Repository

    Keith, Sally A.

    2016-05-11

    Coral spawning times have been linked to multiple environmental factors; however, to what extent these factors act as generalized cues across multiple species and large spatial scales is unknown. We used a unique dataset of coral spawning from 34 reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans to test if month of spawning and peak spawning month in assemblages of Acropora spp. can be predicted by sea surface temperature (SST), photosynthetically available radiation, wind speed, current speed, rainfall or sunset time. Contrary to the classic view that high mean SST initiates coral spawning, we found rapid increases in SST to be the best predictor in both cases (month of spawning: R2 = 0.73, peak: R2 = 0.62). Our findings suggest that a rapid increase in SST provides the dominant proximate cue for coral mass spawning over large geographical scales. We hypothesize that coral spawning is ultimately timed to ensure optimal fertilization success.

  8. Molecular Identification and Genetic Diversity of Acropora hyacinthus from Boo and Deer Island, Raja Ampat, West Papua

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wijayanti, DP; Indrayanti, E.; Nuryadi, H.; Dewi, RA; Sabdono, A.

    2018-02-01

    Indonesia lies at the centre of biodiversity for corals. However, the reefs suffered from extensive human exploitation. Marine Protected Areas is thought to be best solution to protect coral reefs ecosystem. Understanding genetic diversity is crucial for effective management of the MPAs, however genetic diversity is rarely been corporate in designing an MPA. Moreover, many MPAs are uneffectively manage due to poor designated and demarcated.Raja Ampat which is located in western tip of West Papua, was designated as a park to mitigatethreatsand protect the valuable marine resources.Scleractinian corals in the genus Acropora are among the most dominant distributed in Raja Ampat waters, including the species of Acroporahyacinthus. The research aimed to analyze genetic diversity and to describe the kinship relationship of Acroporahyacinthus between 2 populations: Boo Island and Deer Island, Raja Ampat. Genetic marker Cytochrome Oxidase I (CO I) of the mitochondrial genome DNA (mtDNA) was used to analyze genetic diversity. Reconstruction of phylogenetic tree and genetic diversity were made by usingsoftware MEGA 5.05 (Moleculer Evolutionary Genetics Analysis). The results of this research indicatecorals A. hyacinthus from Boo Island and Deer Island Raja Ampat are in the low category of genetic diversity and overall had a close genetic relationship of kinship. This is likely due to the small size of the population and few numbers of samples that may not represent the population.

  9. Using Bacterial Extract along with Differential Gene Expression in Acropora millepora Larvae to Decouple the Processes of Attachment and Metamorphosis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Siboni, Nachshon; Abrego, David; Seneca, Francois; Motti, Cherie A.; Andreakis, Nikos; Tebben, Jan; Blackall, Linda L.; Harder, Tilmann

    2012-01-01

    Biofilms of the bacterium Pseudoalteromonas induce metamorphosis of acroporid coral larvae. The bacterial metabolite tetrabromopyrrole (TBP), isolated from an extract of Pseudoalteromonas sp. associated with the crustose coralline alga (CCA) Neogoniolithon fosliei, induced coral larval metamorphosis (100%) with little or no attachment (0–2%). To better understand the molecular events and mechanisms underpinning the induction of Acropora millepora larval metamorphosis, including cell proliferation, apoptosis, differentiation, migration, adhesion and biomineralisation, two novel coral gene expression assays were implemented. These involved the use of reverse-transcriptase quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) and employed 47 genes of interest (GOI), selected based on putative roles in the processes of settlement and metamorphosis. Substantial differences in transcriptomic responses of GOI were detected following incubation of A. millepora larvae with a threshold concentration and 10-fold elevated concentration of TBP-containing extracts of Pseudoalteromonas sp. The notable and relatively abrupt changes of the larval body structure during metamorphosis correlated, at the molecular level, with significant differences (pmetamorphosis. The bacterial TBP-containing extract provided a unique opportunity to monitor the regulation of genes exclusively involved in the process of metamorphosis, contrasting previous gene expression studies that utilized cues, such as crustose coralline algae, biofilms or with GLW-amide neuropeptides that stimulate the entire onset of larval metamorphosis and attachment. PMID:22655067

  10. Restoration of coral populations in light of genetic diversity estimates

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shearer, T. L.; Porto, I.; Zubillaga, A. L.

    2009-09-01

    Due to the importance of preserving the genetic integrity of populations, strategies to restore damaged coral reefs should attempt to retain the allelic diversity of the disturbed population; however, genetic diversity estimates are not available for most coral populations. To provide a generalized estimate of genetic diversity (in terms of allelic richness) of scleractinian coral populations, the literature was surveyed for studies describing the genetic structure of coral populations using microsatellites. The mean number of alleles per locus across 72 surveyed scleractinian coral populations was 8.27 (±0.75 SE). In addition, population genetic datasets from four species ( Acropora palmata, Montastraea cavernosa, Montastraea faveolata and Pocillopora damicornis) were analyzed to assess the minimum number of donor colonies required to retain specific proportions of the genetic diversity of the population. Rarefaction analysis of the population genetic datasets indicated that using 10 donor colonies randomly sampled from the original population would retain >50% of the allelic diversity, while 35 colonies would retain >90% of the original diversity. In general, scleractinian coral populations are genetically diverse and restoration methods utilizing few clonal genotypes to re-populate a reef will diminish the genetic integrity of the population. Coral restoration strategies using 10-35 randomly selected local donor colonies will retain at least 50-90% of the genetic diversity of the original population.

  11. Reef fish and coral assemblages at Maptaput, Rayong Province

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Voravit Cheevaporn

    2007-06-01

    Full Text Available This study describes the structure of coral and fish assemblages of a group of small islands and pinnacles in the vicinity of Maptaput deep sea port, Rayong Province, Thailand during 2002. The coral and fish assemblages at Saket Island and nearby pinnacle, Hin-Yai, which are located less than 1 km from the deep sea port, had changed. Living coral cover in 2002 was 8% at Hin-Yai and 4% at Saket Island which decreased from 33% and 64%, respectively in the previous report in 1992. Numbers of coral species at Saket Island decreased from 41 species to 13 species. Acropora spp. that previously dominated the area had nearly disappeared. For fishes, a total of 40 species were found in 2002 the numbers decreased to only 6 species at Saket Island and 36 species at Hin-Yai. Fishes that dominated the area are small pomacentrids. After 1997, the conditions of coral and fish assemblages at Saket Island and Hin-Yai had markedly changed, whereas, the conditions found in the nearby area are much better. Sediment load from port construction was the primary cause of the degradation. This should indicate the adverse effect of sedimentation on coral and reef fish assemblages at Maptaput. Coral communities developed on rock pinnacles west of Maptaput deep-sea port are reported and described herein for the first time.

  12. Selective feeding by coral reef fishes on coral lesions associated with brown band and black band disease

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chong-Seng, K. M.; Cole, A. J.; Pratchett, M. S.; Willis, B. L.

    2011-06-01

    Recent studies have suggested that corallivorous fishes may be vectors for coral disease, but the extent to which fishes actually feed on and thereby potentially transmit coral pathogens is largely unknown. For this study, in situ video observations were used to assess the level to which fishes fed on diseased coral tissues at Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef. Surveys conducted at multiple locations around Lizard Island revealed that coral disease prevalence, especially of brown band disease (BrB), was higher in lagoon and backreef locations than in exposed reef crests. Accordingly, video cameras were deployed in lagoon and backreef habitats to record feeding by fishes during 1-h periods on diseased sections of each of 44 different coral colonies. Twenty-five species from five fish families (Blennidae, Chaetodontidae, Gobiidae, Labridae and Pomacentridae) were observed to feed on infected coral tissues of staghorn species of Acropora that were naturally infected with black band disease (BBD) or brown band disease (BrB). Collectively, these fishes took an average of 18.6 (±5.6 SE) and 14.3 (±6.1 SE) bites per hour from BBD and BrB lesions, respectively. More than 40% (408/948 bites) and nearly 25% (314/1319 bites) of bites were observed on lesions associated with BBD and BrB, respectively, despite these bands each representing only about 1% of the substratum available. Moreover, many corallivorous fishes ( Labrichthys unilineatus, Chaetodon aureofasciatus, C. baronessa, C. lunulatus, C. trifascialis, Cheiloprion labiatus) selectively targeted disease lesions over adjacent healthy coral tissues. These findings highlight the important role that reef fishes may play in the dynamics of coral diseases, either as vectors for the spread of coral disease or in reducing coral disease progression through intensive and selective consumption of diseased coral tissues.

  13. Microenvironment and Photosynthesis of Zooxanthellae in Scleractinian Corals Studied with Microsensors for O-2, Ph and Light Rid A-1977-2009 Rid B-5428-2008

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    KUHL, M.; COHEN, Y.; DALSGAARD, T.

    1995-01-01

    During experimental Light-dark cycles, O-2 in the tissue of the colonial scleractinian corals Favia sp. and Acropora sp. reached >250% of air saturation after a few minutes in Light. Immediately after darkening, O-2 was depleted rapidly, and within 5 min the O-2 concentration at the tissue surface...

  14. Coral reef bleaching: ecological perspectives

    Science.gov (United States)

    Glynn, P. W.

    1993-03-01

    Coral reef bleaching, the whitening of diverse invertebrate taxa, results from the loss of symbiotic zooxanthellae and/or a reduction in photosynthetic pigment concentrations in zooxanthellae residing within the gastrodermal tissues of host animals. Of particular concern are the consequences of bleaching of large numbers of reef-building scleractinian corals and hydrocorals. Published records of coral reef bleaching events from 1870 to the present suggest that the frequency (60 major events from 1979 to 1990), scale (co-occurrence in many coral reef regions and often over the bathymetric depth range of corals) and severity (>95% mortality in some areas) of recent bleaching disturbances are unprecedented in the scientific literature. The causes of small scale, isolated bleaching events can often be explained by particular stressors (e.g., temperature, salinity, light, sedimentation, aerial exposure and pollutants), but attempts to explain large scale bleaching events in terms of possible global change (e.g., greenhouse warming, increased UV radiation flux, deteriorating ecosystem health, or some combination of the above) have not been convincing. Attempts to relate the severity and extent of large scale coral reef bleaching events to particular causes have been hampered by a lack of (a) standardized methods to assess bleaching and (b) continuous, long-term data bases of environmental conditions over the periods of interest. An effort must be made to understand the impact of bleac