WorldWideScience

Sample records for building coral acropora

  1. 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

    We investigated variation in transcript abundance in the scleractinian coral, Acropora millepora, within and between populations characteristically exposed to different turbidity regimes and hence different levels of light and suspended particulate matter. We examined phenotypic plasticity...... 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...... in total lipid content following translocation were the greatest for inshore corals, suggesting that turbid water corals have a strong reliance on heterotrophic feeding....

  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 < 0.01). Among the main categories of biological processes found differentially expressed were transport, translation, response to stimulus, oxidation-reduction processes, and apoptosis. We found that the transcriptional profiles did not correspond to the genotype of the colony characterized using either an intron of the carbonic anhydrase gene or microsatellite loci markers. Our results provide evidence of the high inter-colony variation in A. millepora at the transcriptomic level grown under a common garden and without a correspondence with genotypic identity. This finding brings to our attention the importance of taking into account 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Microsatellite characterization and marker development from public EST and WGS databases in the reef-building coral Acropora millepora (Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Scleractinia).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wang, Shi; Zhang, Lingling; Matz, Mikhail

    2009-01-01

    Mining for microsatellites (also called simple sequence repeats [SSRs]) in public sequence databases of a common Indo-Pacific coral Acropora millepora identified 191 SSRs from 10 258 expressed sequence tag (EST) and 618 SSRs from 14 625 whole-genome shotgun (WGS) sequences. In contrast to other animals, trinucleotide repeats, rather than dinucleotide repeats, are dominant in the WGS-SSRs, and AAT is the most frequent trinucleotide motif in EST-SSRs. We successfully developed 40 polymorphic markers from EST-SSRs and WGS-SSRs. Both EST- and WGS-SSRs show high levels of polymorphism within corals from the same reef patch. Interestingly, markers WGS079 and WGS227 revealed SSR duplications in a few individuals, suggesting recent duplication events. Genotypic linkage disequilibrium was identified in 5 pairs of SSR markers, which will be invaluable for high-resolution studies of genetic admixture in natural populations of A. millepora. Transferability analysis showed that 25 of these markers can be successfully amplified in one of the most ubiquitous Indo-Pacific corals Acropora hyacinthus. The marker collection reported here is the largest ever developed for any reef-building coral. It holds great potential for addressing coral reef connectivity across the Indo-Pacific with an unprecedented precision, especially taking into account the cross-species transferability of a substantial number of markers.

  6. 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.

  7. Consolidated Checklist of Hard Corals of the Genus Acropora Oken, 1815 (Scleractinia: Acroporidae) in North Borneo, East Malaysia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Robert, Rolando; Lee, Dexter Jiunn Herng; Rodrigues, Kenneth Francis; Hussein, Muhammad Ali Syed; Waheed, Zarinah; Kumar, S Vijay

    2016-11-29

    Acropora is the most biologically diverse group of reef-building coral, and its richness peaks at the Indo-Malay-Philippine Archipelago, the centre of global coral reef biodiversity. In this paper, we describe the species richness of Acropora fauna of North Borneo, East Malaysia, based on review of literature and as corroborated by voucher specimens. Eighty-three species of Acropora are reported here; four species are literature based and 79 are supported by voucher specimens that were subsequently photographed. New records for North Borneo were recorded for 12 species, including Acropora suharsonoi Wallace 1994 that was previously thought to be confined to a few islands along Lombok Strait, Indonesia. The diversity of Acropora in North Borneo is comparable to that of Indonesia and the Philippines, despite the area's smaller reef areas. This further reinforces its inclusion as part the global hotspot of coral biodiversity.

  8. Expression of calcification and metabolism-related genes in response to elevated pCO2 and temperature in the reef-building coral Acropora millepora.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rocker, Melissa M; Noonan, Sam; Humphrey, Craig; Moya, Aurelie; Willis, Bette L; Bay, Line K

    2015-12-01

    Declining health of scleractinian corals in response to deteriorating environmental conditions is widely acknowledged, however links between physiological and functional genomic responses of corals are less well understood. Here we explore growth and the expression of 20 target genes with putative roles in metabolism and calcification in the branching coral, Acropora millepora, in two separate experiments: 1) elevated pCO2 (464, 822, 1187 and 1638 μatm) and ambient temperature (27°C), and 2) elevated pCO2 (490 and 822 μatm) and temperature (28 and 31 °C). After 14 days of exposure to elevated pCO2 and ambient temperatures, no evidence of differential expression of either calcification or metabolism genes was detected between control and elevated pCO2 treatments. After 37 days of exposure to control and elevated pCO2, Ubiquinol-Cytochrome-C Reductase Subunit 2 gene (QCR2; a gene involved in complex III of the electron chain transport within the mitochondria and critical for generation of ATP) was significantly down-regulated in the elevated pCO2 treatment in both ambient and elevated temperature treatments. Overall, the general absence of a strong response to elevated pCO2 and temperature by the other 19 targeted calcification and metabolism genes suggests that corals may not be affected by these stressors on longer time scales (37 days). These results also highlight the potential for QCR2 to act as a biomarker of coral genomic responses to changing environments. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

  9. 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.

  10. Experimental data comparing two coral grow-out methods in nursery-raised Acropora cervicornis

    Data.gov (United States)

    U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior — Staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, is a threatened species and the primary focus of western Atlantic reef-restoration efforts to date. As part of the USGS Coral...

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Rarity and genetic diversity in Indo–Pacific Acropora corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Richards, Zoe T; Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2012-01-01

    Among various potential consequences of rarity is genetic erosion. Neutral genetic theory predicts that rare species will have lower genetic diversity than common species. To examine the association between genetic diversity and rarity, variation at eight DNA microsatellite markers was documented for 14 Acropora species that display different patterns of distribution and abundance in the Indo–Pacific Ocean. Our results show that the relationship between rarity and genetic diversity is not a positive linear association because, contrary to expectations, some rare species are genetically diverse and some populations of common species are genetically depleted. Our data suggest that inbreeding is the most likely mechanism of genetic depletion in both rare and common corals, and that hybridization is the most likely explanation for higher than expected levels of genetic diversity in rare species. A significant hypothesis generated from our study with direct conservation implications is that as a group, Acropora corals have lower genetic diversity at neutral microsatellite loci than may be expected from their taxonomic diversity, and this may suggest a heightened susceptibility to environmental change. This hypothesis requires validation based on genetic diversity estimates derived from a large portion of the genome. PMID:22957189

  16. Rarity and genetic diversity in Indo-Pacific Acropora corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Richards, Zoe T; Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2012-08-01

    Among various potential consequences of rarity is genetic erosion. Neutral genetic theory predicts that rare species will have lower genetic diversity than common species. To examine the association between genetic diversity and rarity, variation at eight DNA microsatellite markers was documented for 14 Acropora species that display different patterns of distribution and abundance in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Our results show that the relationship between rarity and genetic diversity is not a positive linear association because, contrary to expectations, some rare species are genetically diverse and some populations of common species are genetically depleted. Our data suggest that inbreeding is the most likely mechanism of genetic depletion in both rare and common corals, and that hybridization is the most likely explanation for higher than expected levels of genetic diversity in rare species. A significant hypothesis generated from our study with direct conservation implications is that as a group, Acropora corals have lower genetic diversity at neutral microsatellite loci than may be expected from their taxonomic diversity, and this may suggest a heightened susceptibility to environmental change. This hypothesis requires validation based on genetic diversity estimates derived from a large portion of the genome.

  17. 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.

  18. Selective Impact of Disease on Coral Communities: Outbreak of White Syndrome Causes Significant Total Mortality of Acropora Plate Corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hobbs, Jean-Paul A; Frisch, Ashley J; Newman, Stephen J; Wakefield, Corey B

    2015-01-01

    Coral diseases represent a significant and increasing threat to coral reefs. Among the most destructive diseases is White Syndrome (WS), which is increasing in distribution and prevalence throughout the Indo-Pacific. The aim of this study was to determine taxonomic and spatial patterns in mortality rates of corals following the 2008 outbreak of WS at Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean. WS mainly affected Acropora plate corals and caused total mortality of 36% of colonies across all surveyed sites and depths. Total mortality varied between sites but was generally much greater in the shallows (0-96% of colonies at 5 m depth) compared to deeper waters (0-30% of colonies at 20 m depth). Site-specific mortality rates were a reflection of the proportion of corals affected by WS at each site during the initial outbreak and were predicted by the initial cover of live Acropora plate cover. The WS outbreak had a selective impact on the coral community. Following the outbreak, live Acropora plate coral cover at 5 m depth decreased significantly from 7.0 to 0.8%, while the cover of other coral taxa remained unchanged. Observations five years after the initial outbreak revealed that total Acropora plate cover remained low and confirmed that corals that lost all their tissue due to WS did not recover. These results demonstrate that WS represents a significant and selective form of coral mortality and highlights the serious threat WS poses to coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific.

  19. Molecular evidence shows low species diversity of coral-associated hydroids in Acropora corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Silvia Fontana

    Full Text Available A novel symbiosis between scleractinians and hydroids (Zanclea spp. was recently discovered using taxonomic approaches for hydroid species identification. In this study, we address the question whether this is a species-specific symbiosis or a cosmopolitan association between Zanclea and its coral hosts. Three molecular markers, including mitochondrial 16S and nuclear 28S ribosomal genes, and internal transcribed spacer (ITS, were utilized to examine the existence of Zanclea species from 14 Acropora species and 4 other Acroporidae genera including 142 coral samples collected from reefs in Kenting and the Penghu Islands, Taiwan, Togian Island, Indonesia, and Osprey Reef and Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Molecular phylogenetic analyses of the 16S and 28S genes showed that Acropora-associated Zanclea was monophyletic, but the genus Zanclea was not. Analysis of the ITS, and 16S and 28S genes showed either identical or extremely low genetic diversity (with mean pairwise distances of 0.009 and 0.006 base substitutions per site for the 16S and 28S genes, respectively among Zanclea spp. collected from diverse Acropora hosts in different geographic locations, suggesting that a cosmopolitan and probably genus-specific association occurs between Zanclea hydroids and their coral hosts.

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Aisling K Brady

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: 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. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: 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. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Gametogenesis and fecundity of Acropora tenella (Brook 1892) in a mesophotic coral ecosystem in Okinawa, Japan

    Science.gov (United States)

    Prasetia, Rian; Sinniger, Frederic; Harii, Saki

    2016-03-01

    Mesophotic coral ecosystems (below 30-40 m depth) host a large diversity of zooxanthellate coral communities and may play an important role in the ecology and conservation of coral reefs. Investigating the reproductive biology of mesophotic corals is important to understand their life history traits. Despite an increase in research on mesophotic corals in the last decade, their reproductive biology is still poorly understood. Here, gametogenesis and fecundity of the Indo-Pacific mesophotic coral , Acropora tenella, were examined in an upper mesophotic reef (40 m depth) in Okinawa, Japan for the first time. Acropora tenella is a hermaphrodite with a single annual gametogenic cycle, and both oogenesis and spermatogenesis occurring for 11-12 and 5-6 months, respectively. Timing of spawning of this species was similar to other shallow Acropora spp. in the region. However, colonies had longer gametogenic cycles and less synchronous gamete maturation compared to shallow acroporids with spawning extended over consecutive months. Both the polyp fecundity (number of eggs per polyp) and gonad index (defined as the number of eggs per square centimeter) of A. tenella were lower than most acroporids. Our findings contribute to understanding of the life history of corals on mesophotic reefs and suggest that the reproductive biology of upper mesophotic corals is similar to that of shallow-water corals.

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

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Therefore, the aim of this study was to elucidate the genetic diversity, connectivity and structure of Acropora sp. populations. Acropora sp. were sampled at four intertidal and subtidal sites over a distance of ~320 km, and assessed using primers that amplify the 3/550 nuclear intron found within the carbonic anhydrase gene ...

  4. Comparison of the effects of thermal stress and CO₂-driven acidified seawater on fertilization in coral Acropora digitifera.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Iguchi, Akira; Suzuki, Atsushi; Sakai, Kazuhiko; Nojiri, Yukihiro

    2015-08-01

    Global warming (GW) and ocean acidification (OA) have been recognized as severe threats for reef-building corals that support coral reef ecosystems, but these effects on the early life history stage of corals are relatively unknown compared with the effects on calcification of adult corals. In this study, we evaluated the effects of thermal stress and CO2-driven acidified seawater on fertilization in a reef-building coral, Acropora digitifera. The fertilization rates of A. digitifera decreased in response to thermal stress compared with those under normal seawater conditions. In contrast, the changes of fertilization rates were not evident in the acidified seawater. Generalized Linear Mixed Model (GLMM) predicted that sperm/egg crosses and temperature were explanatory variables in the best-fitted model for the fertilization data. In the best model, interactions between thermal stress and acidified seawater on the fertilization rates were not selected. Our results suggested that coral fertilization is more sensitive to future GW than OA. Taking into consideration the previous finding that sperm motility of A. digitifera was decreased by acidified seawater, the decrease in coral cover followed by that of sperm concentration might cause the interacting effects of GW and OA on coral fertilization.

  5. 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.

  6. Bacterial communities associated with healthy and Acropora white syndrome-affected corals from American Samoa

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wilson, Bryan; Aeby, Greta S.; Work, Thierry M.; Bourne, David G.

    2012-01-01

    Acropora white syndrome (AWS) is characterized by rapid tissue loss revealing the white underlying skeleton and affects corals worldwide; however, reports of causal agents are conflicting. Samples were collected from healthy and diseased corals and seawater around American Samoa and bacteria associated with AWS characterized using both culture-dependent and culture-independent methods, from coral mucus and tissue slurries, respectively. Bacterial 16S rRNA gene clone libraries derived from coral tissue were dominated by the Gammaproteobacteria, and Jaccard's distances calculated between the clone libraries showed that those from diseased corals were more similar to each other than to those from healthy corals. 16S rRNA genes from 78 culturable coral mucus isolates also revealed a distinct partitioning of bacterial genera into healthy and diseased corals. Isolates identified as Vibrionaceae were further characterized by multilocus sequence typing, revealing that whilst several Vibrio spp. were found to be associated with AWS lesions, a recently described species, Vibrio owensii, was prevalent amongst cultured Vibrio isolates. Unaffected tissues from corals with AWS had a different microbiota than normal Acropora as found by others. Determining whether a microbial shift occurs prior to disease outbreaks will be a useful avenue of pursuit and could be helpful in detecting prodromal signs of coral disease prior to manifestation of lesions.

  7. 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

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  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. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  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.

    2010-01-01

    Background 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. Methodology/Principal Findings 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 Ca2+-binding synaptotagmin-like regulator of SNARE protein assembly of phagosomal exocytosis, whereby algal partners are lost from the symbiosis. Conclusions/Significance 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. PMID

  15. 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.

  16. Calcification and photosynthesis of the coral acropora cervicornis under calcium limited conditions

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rathfon, Megan; Brewer, Debbie

    1997-01-01

    Differing hypothesis about the function of calcification are based on an interesting dilemma. Is the purpose of calcification mainly a structural and protective one or does calcification serve other functions? Does photosynthesis increase carbonate ion activity and cause calcification or does calcification increase CO2 levels and stimulate photsynthesis? It is proposed that calcification in corals is not dependent upon photosynthesis but upon calcium levels in the water. Under normal ocean conditions, corals convert a certain percentage of energy to photosynthesis and respiration and another percentage to calcification. As corals become nutrient stressed, particularly calcium limited, the ratio of photosynthesis to calcification shifts towards calcification in order to generate protons. The protons generated during calcification may stimulate photosynthesis and aid in the uptake of nutrients and biocarbonates. The results of the calcification experiment show a trend towards increased calcification and decreased photosynthesis when the coral Acropora cervicornis is calcium limited, but the data are inconclusive and further research is needed.

  17. 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

  18. Experimental data comparing two coral grow-out methods in nursery-raised 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. As part of the USGS Coral Reef Ecosystems Studies project (http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/crest/), we investigated skeletal characteristics of nursery-grown staghorn coral reared using two commonly used grow-out methods at Mote Tropical Research Laboratory’s offshore nursery. We compared linear extension, calcification rate, and skeletal density of nursery-raised A. cervicornis branches reared for six months either on blocks attached to substratum or hanging from monofilament line (on PVC “trees”) in the water column. We demonstrate that branches grown on the substratum had significantly higher skeletal density, measured using computerized tomography (CT), 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 environment, 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 genetically based variability in coral-calcification performance exists. The data resulting from this experiment are provided in this data release and are interpreted in Kuffner et al. (2017).Kuffner, I.B., E. Bartels, A. Stathakopoulos, I.C. Enochs, G. Kolodziej, L.T. Toth, and D.P. Manzello, 2017, Plasticity in skeletal characteristics of nursery-raised staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis: Coral Reefs, in press.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  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. The Skeletal Proteome of the Coral Acropora millepora: The Evolution of Calcification by Co-Option and Domain Shuffling

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ramos-Silva, Paula; Kaandorp, Jaap; Huisman, Lotte; Marie, Benjamin; Zanella-Cléon, Isabelle; Guichard, Nathalie; Miller, David J.; Marin, Frédéric

    2013-01-01

    In corals, biocalcification is a major function that may be drastically affected by ocean acidification (OA). Scleractinian corals grow by building up aragonitic exoskeletons that provide support and protection for soft tissues. Although this process has been extensively studied, the molecular basis of biocalcification is poorly understood. Notably lacking is a comprehensive catalog of the skeleton-occluded proteins—the skeletal organic matrix proteins (SOMPs) that are thought to regulate the mineral deposition. Using a combination of proteomics and transcriptomics, we report the first survey of such proteins in the staghorn coral Acropora millepora. The organic matrix (OM) extracted from the coral skeleton was analyzed by mass spectrometry and bioinformatics, enabling the identification of 36 SOMPs. These results provide novel insights into the molecular basis of coral calcification and the macroevolution of metazoan calcifying systems, whereas establishing a platform for studying the impact of OA at molecular level. Besides secreted proteins, extracellular regions of transmembrane proteins are also present, suggesting a close control of aragonite deposition by the calicoblastic epithelium. In addition to the expected SOMPs (Asp/Glu-rich, galaxins), the skeletal repertoire included several proteins containing known extracellular matrix domains. From an evolutionary perspective, the number of coral-specific proteins is low, many SOMPs having counterparts in the noncalcifying cnidarians. Extending the comparison with the skeletal OM proteomes of other metazoans allowed the identification of a pool of functional domains shared between phyla. These data suggest that co-option and domain shuffling may be general mechanisms by which the trait of calcification has evolved. PMID:23765379

  3. Calcification responses to diurnal variation in seawater carbonate chemistry by the coral Acropora formosa

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chan, W. Y.; Eggins, S. M.

    2017-09-01

    Significant diurnal variation in seawater carbonate chemistry occurs naturally in many coral reef environments, yet little is known of its effect on coral calcification. Laboratory studies on the response of corals to ocean acidification have manipulated the carbonate chemistry of experimental seawater to compare calcification rate changes under present-day and predicted future mean pH/Ωarag conditions. These experiments, however, have focused exclusively on differences in mean chemistry and have not considered diurnal variation. The aim of this study was to compare calcification responses of branching coral Acropora formosa under conditions with and without diurnal variation in seawater carbonate chemistry. To achieve this aim, we explored (1) a method to recreate natural diurnal variation in a laboratory experiment using the biological activities of a coral-reef mesocosm, and (2) a multi-laser 3D scanning method to accurately measure coral surface areas, essential to normalize their calcification rates. We present a cost- and time-efficient method of coral surface area estimation that is reproducible within 2% of the mean of triplicate measurements. Calcification rates were compared among corals subjected to a diurnal range in pH (total scale) from 7.8 to 8.2, relative to those at constant pH values of 7.8, 8.0 or 8.2. Mean calcification rates of the corals at the pH 7.8-8.2 (diurnal variation) treatment were not statistically different from the pH 8.2 treatment and were 34% higher than the pH 8.0 treatment despite similar mean seawater pH and Ωarag. Our results suggest that calcification of adult coral colonies may benefit from diurnal variation in seawater carbonate chemistry. Experiments that compare calcification rates at different constant pH without considering diurnal variation may have limitations.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  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 (reefs may be predicated on a shifted baseline.

  7. 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.

  8. Two Functionally Distinct Ciliates Dwelling in Acropora Corals in the South China Sea near Sanya, Hainan Province, China▿

    Science.gov (United States)

    Qiu, Dajun; Huang, Liangmin; Huang, Hui; Yang, Jianhui; Lin, Senjie

    2010-01-01

    We detected and characterized two distinct scuticociliate ciliates inside Acropora corals in the South China Sea. One, voraciously foraging on Symbiodinium, resembled the brown band disease of ciliates. The other, which is closely related to Paranophrys magna, grazed on detritus instead of Symbiodinium. These two ciliates may serve contrasting functions (competitor versus “cleaner”) in the coral-ciliate-Symbiodinium triangular relationship. PMID:20581178

  9. 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

  10. Acquisition of symbiotic dinoflagellates ( Symbiodinium) by juveniles of the coral Acropora longicyathus

    Science.gov (United States)

    Del C. Gómez-Cabrera, M.; Ortiz, J. C.; Loh, W. K. W.; Ward, S.; Hoegh-Guldberg, O.

    2008-03-01

    Scleractinian corals may acquire Symbiodinium from their parents (vertically) or from the environment (horizontally). In the present study, adult colonies of the coral Acropora longicyathus from One Tree Island (OTI) on the southern Great Barrier Reef (Australia) acquired two distinct varieties of symbiotic dinoflagellates ( Symbiodinium) from the environment. Adult colonies had either Symbiodinium from clade C (86.7%) or clade A (5.3%), or a mixture of both clades A and C (8.0% of all colonies). In contrast, all 10-day-old juveniles were associated with Symbiodinium from clade A, while 83-day-old colonies contained clades A, C and D even though they were growing at the same location. Symbiodinium from clade A were dominant in both 10- and 83-day-old juveniles (99 and 97% of all recruits, respectively), while clade D was also found in 31% of 83-day-old juveniles. Experimental manipulation also revealed that parental association (with clade A or C), or the location within the OTI reef, did not influence which clade of symbiont was acquired by juvenile corals. The differences between the genetic identity of populations of Symbiodinium resident in juveniles and adult A. longicyathus suggest that ontogenetic changes in the symbiosis may occur during the development of scleractinian corals. Whether or not these changes are due to host selective processes or differences in the physical environment associated with juvenile versus adult colonies remains to be determined.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. Climate Change Impacts on the Tree of Life: Changes in Phylogenetic Diversity Illustrated for Acropora Corals

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Daniel P. Faith

    2012-12-01

    Full Text Available The possible loss of whole branches from the tree of life is a dramatic, but under-studied, biological implication of climate change. The tree of life represents an evolutionary heritage providing both present and future benefits to humanity, often in unanticipated ways. Losses in this evolutionary (evo life-support system represent losses in “evosystem” services, and are quantified using the phylogenetic diversity (PD measure. High species-level biodiversity losses may or may not correspond to high PD losses. If climate change impacts are clumped on the phylogeny, then loss of deeper phylogenetic branches can mean disproportionately large PD loss for a given degree of species loss. Over time, successive species extinctions within a clade each may imply only a moderate loss of PD, until the last species within that clade goes extinct, and PD drops precipitously. Emerging methods of “phylogenetic risk analysis” address such phylogenetic tipping points by adjusting conservation priorities to better reflect risk of such worst-case losses. We have further developed and explored this approach for one of the most threatened taxonomic groups, corals. Based on a phylogenetic tree for the corals genus Acropora, we identify cases where worst-case PD losses may be avoided by designing risk-averse conservation priorities. We also propose spatial heterogeneity measures changes to assess possible changes in the geographic distribution of corals PD.

  14. Acropora_CH_po

    Data.gov (United States)

    US Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior — 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,...

  15. 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.

  16. Growth Rate of Staghorn Coral (Acropora on Coral Garden Program at Sempu Nature Reserve Malang

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Oktiyas Muzaky Luthfi

    2015-12-01

    Full Text Available Live coral cover at Sempu Nature Reserve was decrease from 50% in 2006 to 36% in 2013. Adverse human activities such as: over-fishing, recreational activities, waste disposal, deforestation, reef mining and deforestation were suggested to be main factors for declining coral reef at this area. Restoration is defined as the act of returning an ecosystem, as nearly as possible, to its original condition. Coral on Sendang Biru laid on northern area of Sempu Island. Coral garden was establish in the end of 2013. Aim of this research was to know the growth (wide, number of branches, growth rate of staghorn coral that was transplanted on steel frame at coral garden in different depth. Staghorn coral were tied on doom shaped steel in 6 m depth. The result showed that the average of increasing staghorn coral's area was 56. 91 cm2, number of branch increase was 55 and growth rate was 5.23 cm2/month respectively. Increase of depth will influence to decrease of sunlight intensity in water will be affected on calcification rate of coral. GR of staghorn coral in Sempu was higher than other area.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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).

  2. Density of Diadema antillarum (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) on live coral patch reefs and dead Acropora cervicornis rubble patches near Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, USA

    Science.gov (United States)

    Density of adult Diadema antillarum was assessed on live coral patch reefs and dead Acropora cervicornis rubble patches next to Loggerhead Key, Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, USA in June 2009. Mean density on live coral patch reefs (0.49 individuals m-2) was not statistical...

  3. 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.

  4. Outbreaks of Acropora white syndrome and Terpios sponge overgrowth combined with coral mortality in Palk Bay, southeast coast of India.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Thinesh, T; Mathews, G; Diraviya Raj, K; Edward, J K P

    2017-09-20

    Acropora white syndrome (AWS) and Terpios sponge overgrowth (TSO) are serious threats to coral communities in various regions; however, information on these 2 lesions in the Indian Ocean is much more limited than in the Indo-Pacific. The present study revealed the impact of these lesions on the Palk Bay reef, India, and covered an area of 7 km2. In total, 1930 colonies were permanently monitored to assess incidences of AWS and TSO and consequent mortality for a period of 1 yr. TSO affected 5 coral genera and caused 20.7% mortality; overall prevalence increased from 1.3% (n = 25) to 25.5% (n = 492). In contrast, AWS only affected Acropora colonies and caused a mortality of 8%; overall prevalence increased from 0.9% (n = 17) to 12.9% (n = 249). Year-round monitoring revealed an increasing trend of both AWS and TSO, followed by temperature rise. These results add to the known geographic distribution of these coral diseases and reveal the impacts of AWS and TSO on coral reefs in the Indian Ocean.

  5. Onset and establishment of diazotrophs and other bacterial associates in the early life history stages of the coral Acropora millepora.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lema, Kimberley A; Bourne, David G; Willis, Bette L

    2014-10-01

    Early establishment of coral-microbial symbioses is fundamental to the fitness of corals, but comparatively little is known about the onset and succession of bacterial communities in their early life history stages. In this study, bacterial associates of the coral Acropora millepora were characterized throughout the first year of life, from larvae and 1-week-old juveniles reared in laboratory conditions in the absence of the dinoflagellate endosymbiont Symbiodinium to field-outplanted juveniles with established Symbiodinium symbioses, and sampled at 2 weeks and at 3, 6 and 12 months. Using an amplicon pyrosequencing approach, the diversity of both nitrogen-fixing bacteria and of bacterial communities overall was assessed through analysis of nifH and 16S rRNA genes, respectively. The consistent presence of sequences affiliated with diazotrophs of the order Rhizobiales (23-58% of retrieved nifH sequences; 2-12% of 16S rRNA sequences), across all samples from larvae to 12-month-old coral juveniles, highlights the likely functional importance of this nitrogen-fixing order to the coral holobiont. Dominance of Roseobacter-affiliated sequences (>55% of retrieved 16S rRNA sequences) in larvae and 1-week-old juveniles, and the consistent presence of sequences related to Oceanospirillales and Altermonadales throughout all early life history stages, signifies their potential importance as coral associates. Increased diversity of bacterial communities once juveniles were transferred to the field, particularly of Cyanobacteria and Deltaproteobacteria, demonstrates horizontal (environmental) uptake of coral-associated bacterial communities. Although overall bacterial communities were dynamic, bacteria with likely important functional roles remain stable throughout early life stages of Acropora millepora. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  6. Sox genes in the coral Acropora millepora: divergent expression patterns reflect differences in developmental mechanisms within the Anthozoa.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shinzato, Chuya; Iguchi, Akira; Hayward, David C; Technau, Ulrich; Ball, Eldon E; Miller, David J

    2008-11-12

    Sox genes encode transcription factors that function in a wide range of developmental processes across the animal kingdom. To better understand both the evolution of the Sox family and the roles of these genes in cnidarians, we are studying the Sox gene complement of the coral, Acropora millepora (Class Anthozoa). Based on overall domain structures and HMG box sequences, the Acropora Sox genes considered here clearly fall into four of the five major Sox classes. AmSoxC is expressed in the ectoderm during development, in cells whose morphology is consistent with their assignment as sensory neurons. The expression pattern of the Nematostella ortholog of this gene is broadly similar to that of AmSoxC, but there are subtle differences--for example, expression begins significantly earlier in Acropora than in Nematostella. During gastrulation, AmSoxBb and AmSoxB1 transcripts are detected only in the presumptive ectoderm while AmSoxE1 transcription is restricted to the presumptive endoderm, suggesting that these Sox genes might play roles in germ layer specification. A third type B Sox gene, AmSoxBa, and a Sox F gene AmSoxF also have complex and specific expression patterns during early development. Each of these genes has a clear Nematostella ortholog, but in several cases the expression pattern observed in Acropora differs significantly from that reported in Nematostella. These differences in expression patterns between Acropora and Nematostella largely reflect fundamental differences in developmental processes, underscoring the diversity of mechanisms within the anthozoan Sub-Class Hexacorallia (Zoantharia).

  7. Sox genes in the coral Acropora millepora: divergent expression patterns reflect differences in developmental mechanisms within the Anthozoa

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Technau Ulrich

    2008-11-01

    Full Text Available Abstract Background Sox genes encode transcription factors that function in a wide range of developmental processes across the animal kingdom. To better understand both the evolution of the Sox family and the roles of these genes in cnidarians, we are studying the Sox gene complement of the coral, Acropora millepora (Class Anthozoa. Results Based on overall domain structures and HMG box sequences, the Acropora Sox genes considered here clearly fall into four of the five major Sox classes. AmSoxC is expressed in the ectoderm during development, in cells whose morphology is consistent with their assignment as sensory neurons. The expression pattern of the Nematostella ortholog of this gene is broadly similar to that of AmSoxC, but there are subtle differences – for example, expression begins significantly earlier in Acropora than in Nematostella. During gastrulation, AmSoxBb and AmSoxB1 transcripts are detected only in the presumptive ectoderm while AmSoxE1 transcription is restricted to the presumptive endoderm, suggesting that these Sox genes might play roles in germ layer specification. A third type B Sox gene, AmSoxBa, and a Sox F gene AmSoxF also have complex and specific expression patterns during early development. Each of these genes has a clear Nematostella ortholog, but in several cases the expression pattern observed in Acropora differs significantly from that reported in Nematostella. Conclusion These differences in expression patterns between Acropora and Nematostella largely reflect fundamental differences in developmental processes, underscoring the diversity of mechanisms within the anthozoan Sub-Class Hexacorallia (Zoantharia.

  8. 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.

  9. 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).

  10. The functional importance of Acropora austera as nursery areas for juvenile reef fish on South African coral reefs

    Science.gov (United States)

    Floros, C.; Schleyer, M. H.

    2017-03-01

    Many coral reef fish species use mangrove and seagrass beds as nursery areas. However, in certain regions, the absence or scarcity of such habitats suggests that juvenile coral reef fish may be seeking refuge elsewhere. The underlying biogenic substratum of most coral reefs is structurally complex and provides many types of refuge. However, on young or subtropical coral reefs, species may be more reliant on the living coral layer as nursery areas. Such is the case on the high-latitude coral reefs of South Africa where the coral communities consist of a thin veneer of coral overlaying late Pleistocene bedrock. Thus, the morphology of coral species may be a major determinant in the availability of refuge space. Acropora austera is a branching species that forms large patches with high structural complexity. Associated with these patches is a diverse community of fish species, particularly juveniles. Over the past decade, several large (>100 m2) A. austera patches at Sodwana Bay have been diminishing for unknown reasons and there is little evidence of their replacement or regrowth. Seven patches of A. austera (AP) and non- A. austera (NAP) were selected and monitored for 12 months using visual surveys to investigate the importance of AP as refugia and nursery areas. There were significant differences in fish communities between AP and NAP habitats. In total, 110 species were recorded within the patches compared to 101 species outside the patches. Labrids and pomacentrids were the dominant species in the AP habitats, while juvenile scarids, acanthurids, chaetodons and serranids were also abundant. The diversity and abundance of fish species increased significantly with AP size. As the most structurally complex coral species on the reefs, the loss of APs may have significant implications for the recruitment and survival of certain fish species.

  11. 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

    2017-01-22

    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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Occupation Dynamics and Impacts of Damselfish Territoriality on Recovering Populations of the Threatened Staghorn Coral, Acropora cervicornis.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Stephanie A Schopmeyer

    Full Text Available Large-scale coral reef restoration is needed to help recover structure and function of degraded coral reef ecosystems and mitigate continued coral declines. In situ coral propagation and reef restoration efforts have scaled up significantly in past decades, particularly for the threatened Caribbean staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, but little is known about the role that native competitors and predators, such as farming damselfishes, have on the success of restoration. Steep declines in A. cervicornis abundance may have concentrated the negative impacts of damselfish algal farming on a much lower number of coral prey/colonies, thus creating a significant threat to the persistence and recovery of depleted coral populations. This is the first study to document the prevalence of resident damselfishes and negative effects of algal lawns on A. cervicornis along the Florida Reef Tract (FRT. Impacts of damselfish lawns on A. cervicornis colonies were more prevalent (21.6% of colonies than those of other sources of mortality (i.e., disease (1.6%, algal/sponge overgrowth (5.6%, and corallivore predation (7.9%, and damselfish activities caused the highest levels of tissue mortality (34.6% among all coral stressors evaluated. The probability of damselfish occupation increased as coral colony size and complexity increased and coral growth rates were significantly lower in colonies with damselfish lawns (15.4 vs. 29.6 cm per year. Reduced growth and mortality of existing A. cervicornis populations may have a significant effect on population dynamics by potentially reducing important genetic diversity and the reproductive potential of depleted populations. On a positive note, however, the presence of resident damselfishes decreased predation by other corallivores, such as Coralliophila and Hermodice, and may offset some negative impacts caused by algal farming. While most negative impacts of damselfishes identified in this study affected large individual

  15. 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 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. PMID:23630625

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: 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. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: 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. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: 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.

  19. Phylogenetic characterization of culturable actinomycetes associated with the mucus of the coral Acropora digitifera from Gulf of Mannar.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Nithyanand, Paramasivam; Manju, Sivalingam; Karutha Pandian, Shunmugiah

    2011-01-01

    The marine environment is a virtually untapped source of novel actinomycete diversity and its metabolites. Investigating the diversity of actinomycetes in other marine macroorganisms, like seaweeds and sponges, have resulted in isolation of novel bioactive metabolites. Actinomycetes diversity associated with corals and their produced metabolites have not yet been explored. Hence, in this study we attempted to characterize the culturable actinomycetes population associated with the coral Acropora digitifera. Actinomycetes were isolated from the mucus of the coral wherein the actinomycetes count was much higher when compared with the surrounding seawater and sediment. Actinobacteria-specific 16S rRNA gene primers were used for identifying the isolates at the molecular level in addition to biochemical tests. Amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis using three restriction enzymes revealed several polymorphic groups within the isolates. Sequencing and blast analysis of the isolates revealed that some isolates had only 96.7% similarity with its nearest match in GenBank indicating that they may be novel isolates at the species level. The isolated actinomycetes exhibited good antibacterial activity against various human pathogens. This study offers for the first time a prelude about the unexplored culturable actinomycetes diversity associated with a scleractinian coral and their bioactive capabilities. © 2010 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

  20. Cumulative effects of suspended sediments, organic nutrients and temperature stress on early life history stages of the coral Acropora tenuis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Humanes, Adriana; Ricardo, Gerard F.; Willis, Bette L.; Fabricius, Katharina E.; Negri, Andrew P.

    2017-03-01

    Coral reproduction is vulnerable to both declining water quality and warming temperatures, with simultaneous exposures likely compounding the negative impact of each stressor. We investigated how early life processes of the coral Acropora tenuis respond to increasing levels of suspended sediments in combination with temperature or organic nutrients. Fertilization success and embryo development were more sensitive to suspended sediments than to high temperatures or nutrient enrichment, while larval development (after acquisition of cilia) and settlement success were predominantly affected by thermal stress. Fertilization success was reduced 80% by suspended sediments, and up to 24% by temperature, while the addition of nutrients to suspended sediments had no further impact. Larval survivorship was unaffected by any of these treatments. However, settlement success of larvae developing from treatment-exposed embryos was negatively affected by all three stressors (e.g. up to 55% by suspended sediments), while exposure only during later larval stages predominantly responded to temperature stress. Environmentally relevant levels of suspended sediments and temperature had the greatest impacts, affecting more processes than the combined impacts of sediments and nutrients. These results suggest that management strategies to maintain suspended sediments at low concentrations during coral spawning events will benefit coral recruitment, especially with warming climate.

  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. Host Coenzyme Q Redox State Is an Early Biomarker of Thermal Stress in the Coral Acropora millepora.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lutz, Adrian; Raina, Jean-Baptiste; Motti, Cherie A; Miller, David J; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2015-01-01

    Bleaching episodes caused by increasing seawater temperatures may induce mass coral mortality and are regarded as one of the biggest threats to coral reef ecosystems worldwide. The current consensus is that this phenomenon results from enhanced production of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) that disrupt the symbiosis between corals and their endosymbiotic dinoflagellates, Symbiodinium. Here, the responses of two important antioxidant defence components, the host coenzyme Q (CoQ) and symbiont plastoquinone (PQ) pools, are investigated for the first time in colonies of the scleractinian coral, Acropora millepora, during experimentally-induced bleaching under ecologically relevant conditions. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) was used to quantify the states of these two pools, together with physiological parameters assessing the general state of the symbiosis (including photosystem II photochemical efficiency, chlorophyll concentration and Symbiodinium cell densities). The results show that the responses of the two antioxidant systems occur on different timescales: (i) the redox state of the Symbiodinium PQ pool remained stable until twelve days into the experiment, after which there was an abrupt oxidative shift; (ii) by contrast, an oxidative shift of approximately 10% had occurred in the host CoQ pool after 6 days of thermal stress, prior to significant changes in any other physiological parameter measured. Host CoQ pool oxidation is thus an early biomarker of thermal stress in corals, and this antioxidant pool is likely to play a key role in quenching thermally-induced ROS in the coral-algal symbiosis. This study adds to a growing body of work that indicates host cellular responses may precede the bleaching process and symbiont dysfunction.

  3. The skeletal proteome of the coral Acropora millepora: the evolution of calcification by co-option and domain shuffling

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Ramos-Silva, P.; Kaandorp, J.; Huisman, L.; Marie, B.; Zanella-Cléon, I.; Guichard, N.; Miller, D.J.; Marin, F.

    2013-01-01

    In corals, biocalcification is a major function that may be drastically affected by ocean acidification (OA). Scleractinian corals grow by building up aragonitic exoskeletons that provide support and protection for soft tissues. Although this process has been extensively studied, the molecular basis

  4. Environmental Factors Controlling the Distribution of Symbiodinium Harboured by the Coral Acropora millepora on the Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cooper, Timothy F.; Berkelmans, Ray; Ulstrup, Karin E.; Weeks, Scarla; Radford, Ben; Jones, Alison M.; Doyle, Jason; Canto, Marites; O'Leary, Rebecca A.; van Oppen, Madeleine J. H.

    2011-01-01

    Background The Symbiodinium community associated with scleractinian corals is widely considered to be shaped by seawater temperature, as the coral's upper temperature tolerance is largely contingent on the Symbiodinium types harboured. Few studies have challenged this paradigm as knowledge of other environmental drivers on the distribution of Symbiodinium is limited. Here, we examine the influence of a range of environmental variables on the distribution of Symbiodinium associated with Acropora millepora collected from 47 coral reefs spanning 1,400 km on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. Methodology/Principal Findings The environmental data included Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data at 1 km spatial resolution from which a number of sea surface temperature (SST) and water quality metrics were derived. In addition, the carbonate and mud composition of sediments were incorporated into the analysis along with in situ water quality samples for a subset of locations. Analyses were conducted at three spatio-temporal scales [GBR (regional-scale), Whitsunday Islands (local-scale) and Keppel Islands/Trunk Reef (temporal)] to examine the effects of scale on the distribution patterns. While SST metrics were important drivers of the distribution of Symbiodinium types at regional and temporal scales, our results demonstrate that spatial variability in water quality correlates significantly with Symbiodinium distribution at local scales. Background levels of Symbiodinium types were greatest at turbid inshore locations of the Whitsunday Islands where SST predictors were not as important. This was not the case at regional scales where combinations of mud and carbonate sediment content coupled with SST anomalies and mean summer SST explained 51.3% of the variation in dominant Symbiodinium communities. Conclusions/Significance Reef corals may respond to global-scale stressors such as climate change through changes in their resident symbiont

  5. 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.

  6. Growth Rate of Acropora formosa Fragments that Transplanted on Artificial Substrate Made from Coral Rubble

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    NUR FADLI

    2009-10-01

    Full Text Available Coral reefs play an important physiological and ecological role in coastal ecosystems such as providing natural breakwaters that protect shorelines and human settlements from waves and storm. Corals killed by tsunami, waves and storms are often degraded into rubble. This rubble is dynamic, easily shifted by currents and storms, which effectively forms ‘‘killing fields’’ for coral juveniles, hindering coral recovery. In order to rehabilitate coral reefs, artificial substrates are used both for coral transplantation and recruitment. Unfortunately, most artificial substrates are expensive and use land-based material such as concrete/cement-bases. In order to develop a new low-cost artificial substrate that can replace concrete/cement-base as a media for coral transplantation, modified coral rubble was tested in a pilot study in Seribu Island, Jakarta. Two different nets (nylon and polyethylene were used to form rubble into a compact shape, stable and strong substrate. The stability of the rubble and the complexity of the surface which is created by the net make this substrate suitable for coral transplantation. Additionally, from an economic perspective the nets are very cheap and locally available. In a number of experiments, modified coral rubble successfully replaced the concrete/cement-base as a media for coral transplantation. The coral transplants were growing over time. With this method, we can try to rehabilitate the degraded coral reef destroyed by tsunami or other factors with material that already is available at the site and with less money. However, this approach requires testing at additional sites and for longer periods, to determine the replicability of the results.

  7. A comparative view of early development in the corals Favia lizardensis, Ctenactis echinata, and Acropora millepora - morphology, transcriptome, and developmental gene expression.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Okubo, Nami; Hayward, David C; Forêt, Sylvain; Ball, Eldon E

    2016-02-29

    Research into various aspects of coral biology has greatly increased in recent years due to anthropogenic threats to coral health including pollution, ocean warming and acidification. However, knowledge of coral early development has lagged. The present paper describes the embryonic development of two previously uncharacterized robust corals, Favia lizardensis (a massive brain coral) and Ctenactis echinata (a solitary coral) and compares it to that of the previously characterized complex coral, Acropora millepora, both morphologically and in terms of the expression of a set of key developmental genes. Illumina sequencing of mixed age embryos was carried out, resulting in embryonic transcriptomes consisting of 40605 contigs for C.echinata (N50 = 1080 bp) and 48536 contigs for F.lizardensis (N50 = 1496 bp). The transcriptomes have been annotated against Swiss-Prot and were sufficiently complete to enable the identification of orthologs of many key genes controlling development in bilaterians. Developmental series of images of whole mounts and sections reveal that the early stages of both species contain a blastocoel, consistent with their membership of the robust clade. In situ hybridization was used to examine the expression of the developmentally important genes brachyury, chordin and forkhead. The expression of brachyury and forkhead was consistent with that previously reported for Acropora and allowed us to confirm that the pseudo-blastopore sometimes seen in robust corals such as Favia spp. is not directly associated with gastrulation. C.echinata chordin expression, however, differed from that seen in the other two corals. Embryonic transcriptomes were assembled for the brain coral Favia lizardensis and the solitary coral Ctenactis echinata. Both species have a blastocoel in their early developmental stages, consistent with their phylogenetic position as members of the robust clade. Expression of the key developmental genes brachyury, chordin and

  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. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Meyer, Friedrich W; Vogel, Nikolas; Diele, Karen; Kunzmann, Andreas; Uthicke, Sven; Wild, Christian

    2016-01-01

    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 scenarios, as

  12. 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

  13. Early Transcriptional Responses during Heat Stress in the Coral Acropora hyacinthus.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Traylor-Knowles, Nikki; Rose, Noah H; Sheets, Elizabeth A; Palumbi, Stephen R

    2017-04-01

    Corals respond to heat pulses that cause bleaching with massive transcriptional change, but the immediate responses to stress that lead up to these shifts have never been detailed. Understanding these early signals could be important for identifying the regulatory mechanisms responsible for bleaching and how these mechanisms vary between more and less resilient corals. Using RNA sequencing (RNAseq) and sampling every 30 minutes during a short-term heat shock, we found that components of the transcriptome were significantly upregulated within 90 min and after a temperature increase of +2 °C. The developmental transcription factor, Krüppel-like factor 7, was highly expressed within 60 min, and stress-related transcription factors such as Elk-3 were highly expressed starting at 240 min. The sets of genes enriched for early transcriptional response to heat stress included heat shock proteins, small GTPases, and proteasome genes. Retrovirus-related Pol polyproteins from transposons were significantly expressed throughout the whole experiment. Lastly, we propose a model for early transcriptional regulation of protein degradation and cell adhesion response that may ultimately lead to the bleaching and stress response.

  14. 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.

  15. Functional conservation of the apoptotic machinery from coral to man: the diverse and complex Bcl-2 and caspase repertoires of Acropora millepora.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Moya, Aurelie; Sakamaki, Kazuhiro; Mason, Benjamin M; Huisman, Lotte; Forêt, Sylvain; Weiss, Yvonne; Bull, Tara E; Tomii, Kentaro; Imai, Kenichiro; Hayward, David C; Ball, Eldon E; Miller, David J

    2016-01-16

    Apoptotic cell death is a defining and ubiquitous characteristic of metazoans, but its evolutionary origins are unclear. Although Caenorhabditis and Drosophila played key roles in establishing the molecular bases of apoptosis, it is now clear that cell death pathways of these animals do not reflect ancestral characteristics. Conversely, recent work suggests that the apoptotic networks of cnidarians may be complex and vertebrate-like, hence characterization of the apoptotic complement of representatives of the basal cnidarian class Anthozoa will help us to understand the evolution of the vertebrate apoptotic network. We describe the Bcl-2 and caspase protein repertoires of the coral Acropora millepora, making use of the comprehensive transcriptomic data available for this species. Molecular phylogenetics indicates that some Acropora proteins are orthologs of specific mammalian pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members, but the relationships of other Bcl-2 and caspases are unclear. The pro- or anti-apoptotic activities of coral Bcl-2 proteins were investigated by expression in mammalian cells, and the results imply functional conservation of the effector/anti-apoptotic machinery despite limited sequence conservation in the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins. A novel caspase type ("Caspase-X"), containing both inactive and active caspase domains, was identified in Acropora and appears to be restricted to corals. When expressed in mammalian cells, full-length caspase-X caused loss of viability, and a truncated version containing only the active domain was more effective in inducing cell death, suggesting that the inactive domain might modulate activity in the full-length protein. Structure prediction suggests that the active and inactive caspase domains in caspase-X are likely to interact, resulting in a structure resembling that of the active domain in procaspase-8 and the inactive caspase domain in the mammalian c-FLIP anti-apoptotic factor. The data presented here confirm that

  16. 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

  17. Responses of reef building corals to microplastic exposure.

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2017-11-13

    Pollution of marine environments with microplastic particles (i.e. plastic fragments 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.

  18. Genetic markers for antioxidant capacity in a reef-building coral.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jin, Young K; Lundgren, Petra; Lutz, Adrian; Raina, Jean-Baptiste; Howells, Emily J; Paley, Allison S; Willis, Bette L; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2016-05-01

    The current lack of understanding of the genetic basis underlying environmental stress tolerance in reef-building corals impairs the development of new management approaches to confronting the global demise of coral reefs. On the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), an approximately 51% decline in coral cover occurred over the period 1985-2012. We conducted a gene-by-environment association analysis across 12° latitude on the GBR, as well as both in situ and laboratory genotype-by-phenotype association analyses. These analyses allowed us to identify alleles at two genetic loci that account for differences in environmental stress tolerance and antioxidant capacity in the common coral Acropora millepora. The effect size for antioxidant capacity was considerable and biologically relevant (32.5 and 14.6% for the two loci). Antioxidant capacity is a critical component of stress tolerance because a multitude of environmental stressors cause increased cellular levels of reactive oxygen species. Our findings provide the first step toward the development of novel coral reef management approaches, such as spatial mapping of stress tolerance for use in marine protected area design, identification of stress-tolerant colonies for assisted migration, and marker-assisted selective breeding to create more tolerant genotypes for restoration of denuded reefs.

  19. 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.

  20. CRCP-Acropora palmata fragment outlpants

    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...

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. The transcriptomic response of the coral Acropora digitifera to a competent Symbiodinium strain: the symbiosome as an arrested early phagosome.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mohamed, A R; Cumbo, V; Harii, S; Shinzato, C; Chan, C X; Ragan, M A; Bourne, D G; Willis, B L; Ball, E E; Satoh, N; Miller, D J

    2016-07-01

    Despite the ecological significance of the relationship between reef-building corals and intracellular photosynthetic dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium, very little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved in its establishment. Indeed, microarray-based analyses point to the conclusion that host gene expression is largely or completely unresponsive during the establishment of symbiosis with a competent strain of Symbiodinium. In this study, the use of Illumina RNA-Seq technology allowed detection of a transient period of differential expression involving a small number of genes (1073 transcripts; competent strain of Symbiodinium (a clade B strain). This phenomenon has not previously been detected as a consequence of both the lower sensitivity of the microarray approaches used and the sampling times used. The results indicate that complex changes occur, including transient suppression of mitochondrial metabolism and protein synthesis, but are also consistent with the hypothesis that the symbiosome is a phagosome that has undergone early arrest, raising the possibility of common mechanisms in the symbiotic interactions of corals and symbiotic sea anemones with their endosymbionts. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  6. Coral diversity and the severity of disease outbreaks: a cross-regional comparison of Acropora white syndrome in a species-rich region (American Samoa) with a species-poor region (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Aeby, G.S.; Bourne, D.G.; Wilson, B.; Work, Thierry M.

    2011-01-01

    The dynamics of the coral disease, Acropora white syndrome (AWS), was directly compared on reefs in the species-poor region of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) and the species-rich region of American Samoa (AS) with results suggesting that biodiversity, which can affect the abundance of susceptible hosts, is important in influencing the impacts of coral disease outbreaks. The diversity-disease hypothesis predicts that decreased host species diversity should result in increased disease severity of specialist pathogens. We found that AWS was more prevalent and had a higher incidence within the NWHI as compared to AS. Individual Acropora colonies affected by AWS showed high mortality in both regions, but case fatality rate and disease severity was higher in the NWHI. The site within the NWHI had a monospecific stand of A. cytherea; a species that is highly susceptible to AWS. Once AWS entered the site, it spread easily amongst the abundant susceptible hosts. The site within AS contained numerous Acropora species, which differed in their apparent susceptibility to infection and disease severity, which in turn reduced disease spread. Manipulative studies showed AWS was transmissible through direct contact in three Acropora species. These results will help managers predict and respond to disease outbreaks.

  7. Ecological intereactions of reef building corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coral reefs are very important marine ecosystems because they support tremendous biodiversity and reefs are critical economic resources many coastal nations. Tropical reef structures are largely built by stony corals. This presentation provides background on basic coral biology t...

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2011-03-01

    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°C and 32°C) on fertilisation and larval metamorphosis. The median inhibition temperatures for fertilisation and metamorphosis were 32.8°C and 33.0°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°C), posing a low risk to this species in the field. The effects of wastewater and temperature on fertilisation and metamorphosis were additive. Crown Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  12. 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.

  13. Observations of Acropora spawning in the Mozambique Channel ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    There is little published information about the reproductive biology of corals in the western Indian Ocean region. In particular, information about coral spawning patterns is largely absent from scientific literature. We document scleractinian coral spawning events - 8 species of Acropora - from the Mozambique Channel, ...

  14. 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...

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Morgan S Pratchett

    Full Text Available 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

  16. 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.

  17. Identification and Gene Expression Analysis of a Taxonomically Restricted Cysteine-Rich Protein Family in Reef-Building Corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sunagawa, Shinichi; DeSalvo, Michael K.; Voolstra, Christian R.; Reyes-Bermudez, Alejandro; Medina, Mónica

    2009-01-01

    The amount of genomic sequence information continues to grow at an exponential rate, while the identification and characterization of genes without known homologs remains a major challenge. For non-model organisms with limited resources for manipulative studies, high-throughput transcriptomic data combined with bioinformatics methods provide a powerful approach to obtain initial insights into the function of unknown genes. In this study, we report the identification and characterization of a novel family of putatively secreted, small, cysteine-rich proteins herein named Small Cysteine-Rich Proteins (SCRiPs). Their discovery in expressed sequence tag (EST) libraries from the coral Montastraea faveolata required the performance of an iterative search strategy based on BLAST and Hidden-Markov-Model algorithms. While a discernible homolog could neither be identified in the genome of the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, nor in a large EST dataset from the symbiotic sea anemone Aiptasia pallida, we identified SCRiP sequences in multiple scleractinian coral species. Therefore, we postulate that this gene family is an example of lineage-specific gene expansion in reef-building corals. Previously published gene expression microarray data suggest that a sub-group of SCRiPs is highly responsive to thermal stress. Furthermore, data from microarray experiments investigating developmental gene expression in the coral Acropora millepora suggest that different SCRiPs may play distinct roles in the development of corals. The function of these proteins remains to be elucidated, but our results from in silico, transcriptomic, and phylogenetic analyses provide initial insights into the evolution of SCRiPs, a novel, taxonomically restricted gene family that may be responsible for a lineage-specific trait in scleractinian corals. PMID:19283069

  18. Identification and gene expression analysis of a taxonomically restricted cysteine-rich protein family in reef-building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Shinichi Sunagawa

    Full Text Available The amount of genomic sequence information continues to grow at an exponential rate, while the identification and characterization of genes without known homologs remains a major challenge. For non-model organisms with limited resources for manipulative studies, high-throughput transcriptomic data combined with bioinformatics methods provide a powerful approach to obtain initial insights into the function of unknown genes. In this study, we report the identification and characterization of a novel family of putatively secreted, small, cysteine-rich proteins herein named Small Cysteine-Rich Proteins (SCRiPs. Their discovery in expressed sequence tag (EST libraries from the coral Montastraea faveolata required the performance of an iterative search strategy based on BLAST and Hidden-Markov-Model algorithms. While a discernible homolog could neither be identified in the genome of the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, nor in a large EST dataset from the symbiotic sea anemone Aiptasia pallida, we identified SCRiP sequences in multiple scleractinian coral species. Therefore, we postulate that this gene family is an example of lineage-specific gene expansion in reef-building corals. Previously published gene expression microarray data suggest that a sub-group of SCRiPs is highly responsive to thermal stress. Furthermore, data from microarray experiments investigating developmental gene expression in the coral Acropora millepora suggest that different SCRiPs may play distinct roles in the development of corals. The function of these proteins remains to be elucidated, but our results from in silico, transcriptomic, and phylogenetic analyses provide initial insights into the evolution of SCRiPs, a novel, taxonomically restricted gene family that may be responsible for a lineage-specific trait in scleractinian corals.

  19. Multiple light scattering and absorption in reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Terán, Emiliano; Méndez, Eugenio R; Enríquez, Susana; Iglesias-Prieto, Roberto

    2010-09-20

    We present an experimental and numerical study of the effects of multiple scattering on the optical properties of reef-building corals. For this, we propose a simplified optical model of the coral and describe in some detail methods for characterizing the coral skeleton and the layer containing the symbiotic algae. The model is used to study the absorption of light by the layer of tissue containing the microalgae by means of Monte Carlo simulations. The results show that, through scattering, the skeleton homogenizes and enhances the light environment in which the symbionts live. We also present results that illustrate the modification of the internal light environment when the corals loose symbionts or pigmentation.

  20. 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.

  1. Probing a Coral Genome for Components of the Photoprotective Scytonemin Biosynthetic Pathway and the 2-Aminoethylphosphonate Pathway

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nori Satoh

    2013-02-01

    Full Text Available Genome sequences of the reef-building coral, Acropora digitifera, have been decoded. Acropora inhabits an environment with intense ultraviolet exposure and hosts the photosynthetic endosymbiont, Symbiodinium. Acropora homologs of all four genes necessary for biosynthesis of the photoprotective cyanobacterial compound, shinorine, are present. Among metazoans, these genes are found only in anthozoans. To gain further evolutionary insights into biosynthesis of photoprotective compounds and associated coral proteins, we surveyed the Acropora genome for 18 clustered genes involved in cyanobacterial synthesis of the anti-UV compound, scytonemin, even though it had not previously been detected in corals. We identified candidates for only 6 of the 18 genes, including tyrP, scyA, and scyB. Therefore, it does not appear that Acropora digitifera can synthesize scytonemin independently. On the other hand, molecular phylogenetic analysis showed that one tyrosinase gene is an ortholog of vertebrate tyrosinase genes and that the coral homologs, scyA and scyB, are similar to bacterial metabolic genes, phosphonopyruvate (ppyr decarboxylase and glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH, respectively. Further genomic searches for ppyr gene-related biosynthetic components indicate that the coral possesses a metabolic pathway similar to the bacterial 2-aminoethylphosphonate (AEP biosynthetic pathway. The results suggest that de novo synthesis of carbon-phosphorus compounds is performed in corals.

  2. Probing a Coral Genome for Components of the Photoprotective Scytonemin Biosynthetic Pathway and the 2-Aminoethylphosphonate Pathway

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shoguchi, Eiichi; Tanaka, Makiko; Takeuchi, Takeshi; Shinzato, Chuya; Satoh, Nori

    2013-01-01

    Genome sequences of the reef-building coral, Acropora digitifera, have been decoded. Acropora inhabits an environment with intense ultraviolet exposure and hosts the photosynthetic endosymbiont, Symbiodinium. Acropora homologs of all four genes necessary for biosynthesis of the photoprotective cyanobacterial compound, shinorine, are present. Among metazoans, these genes are found only in anthozoans. To gain further evolutionary insights into biosynthesis of photoprotective compounds and associated coral proteins, we surveyed the Acropora genome for 18 clustered genes involved in cyanobacterial synthesis of the anti-UV compound, scytonemin, even though it had not previously been detected in corals. We identified candidates for only 6 of the 18 genes, including tyrP, scyA, and scyB. Therefore, it does not appear that Acropora digitifera can synthesize scytonemin independently. On the other hand, molecular phylogenetic analysis showed that one tyrosinase gene is an ortholog of vertebrate tyrosinase genes and that the coral homologs, scyA and scyB, are similar to bacterial metabolic genes, phosphonopyruvate (ppyr) decarboxylase and glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), respectively. Further genomic searches for ppyr gene-related biosynthetic components indicate that the coral possesses a metabolic pathway similar to the bacterial 2-aminoethylphosphonate (AEP) biosynthetic pathway. The results suggest that de novo synthesis of carbon-phosphorus compounds is performed in corals. PMID:23434798

  3. Building coral reef resilience through assisted evolution.

    Science.gov (United States)

    van Oppen, Madeleine J H; Oliver, James K; Putnam, Hollie M; Gates, Ruth D

    2015-02-24

    The genetic enhancement of wild animals and plants for characteristics that benefit human populations has been practiced for thousands of years, resulting in impressive improvements in commercially valuable species. Despite these benefits, genetic manipulations are rarely considered for noncommercial purposes, such as conservation and restoration initiatives. Over the last century, humans have driven global climate change through industrialization and the release of increasing amounts of CO2, resulting in shifts in ocean temperature, ocean chemistry, and sea level, as well as increasing frequency of storms, all of which can profoundly impact marine ecosystems. Coral reefs are highly diverse ecosystems that have suffered massive declines in health and abundance as a result of these and other direct anthropogenic disturbances. There is great concern that the high rates, magnitudes, and complexity of environmental change are overwhelming the intrinsic capacity of corals to adapt and survive. Although it is important to address the root causes of changing climate, it is also prudent to explore the potential to augment the capacity of reef organisms to tolerate stress and to facilitate recovery after disturbances. Here, we review the risks and benefits of the improvement of natural and commercial stocks in noncoral reef systems and advocate a series of experiments to determine the feasibility of developing coral stocks with enhanced stress tolerance through the acceleration of naturally occurring processes, an approach known as (human)-assisted evolution, while at the same time initiating a public dialogue on the risks and benefits of this approach.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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...

  7. 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....

  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. 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...

  10. Species Profiles: Life Histories and Environmental Requirements of Coastal Fishes and Invertebrates (South Florida). Reef-Building Corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    1987-08-01

    spined sea urchin Diadema to remove coarse sediments and only antillarum is known to eat Acropora weakly able to remove fine sediments. (Bak and Van...Houston, Tex. 435 pp. Bak, R.P.M., and G. Van Eys. 1975. Buddemeir, R.W., and R.A. Kinzie. Predation of the sea urchin Diadema 1976. Coral growth. Oceanogr...vi NOMENCLATURE, TAXONOMY, AND GEOGRAPHIC RANGE............................. 1 MORPHOLOGY AND IDENTIFICATION

  11. 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,...

  12. Multilocus adaptation associated with heat resistance in reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bay, Rachael A; Palumbi, Stephen R

    2014-12-15

    The evolution of tolerance to future climate change depends on the standing stock of genetic variation for resistance to climate-related impacts, but genes contributing to climate tolerance in wild populations are poorly described in number and effect. Physiology and gene expression patterns have shown that corals living in naturally high-temperature microclimates are more resistant to bleaching because of both acclimation and fixed effects, including adaptation. To search for potential genetic correlates of these fixed effects, we genotyped 15,399 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 23 individual tabletop corals, Acropora hyacinthus, within a natural temperature mosaic in backreef lagoons on Ofu Island, American Samoa. Despite overall lack of population substructure, we identified 114 highly divergent SNPs as candidates for environmental selection, via multiple stringent outlier tests, and correlations with temperature. Corals from the warmest reef location had higher minor allele frequencies across these candidate SNPs, a pattern not seen for noncandidate loci. Furthermore, within backreef pools, colonies in the warmest microclimates had a higher number and frequency of alternative alleles at candidate loci. These data suggest mild selection for alternate alleles at many loci in these corals during high heat episodes and possible maintenance of extensive polymorphism through multilocus balancing selection in a heterogeneous environment. In this case, a natural population harbors a reservoir of alleles preadapted to high temperatures, suggesting potential for future evolutionary response to climate change. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. The presence of multiple phenoloxidases in Caribbean reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mydlarz, Laura D; Palmer, Caroline V

    2011-08-01

    The melanin-synthesis pathways, phenoloxidase (PO) and laccases, are staple components of invertebrate immunity and have been shown to be vital in disease resistance. The importance of this pathway in immunity is a consequence of the release of oxygen radicals with cytotoxic effects and the production of insoluble melanin, which aids in the encapsulation of pathogens and parasites. Recently, melanization has been demonstrated as a critical immune response in several coral systems, although the biochemical components have not been thoroughly investigated. Coral diseases are posing a serious threat to coral reef survival, necessitating a full understanding of resistance mechanisms. In this study, we take a comparative approach to probe potential pathway components of melanin-synthesis in seven species from four different families of healthy Caribbean reef-building corals. Using different quinone substrates, we tested for the activity of the POs catecholase and cresolase, as well as laccase activity in each coral species. Since many invertebrate POs demonstrate some dependence on cations such as copper, calcium and magnesium, we treated the coral extracts with the chelators EDTA and EGTA to test the reliance of coral catecholase on these cations. The activity of the antioxidants peroxidase, superoxide dismutase and catalase was also tested in each coral and correlated to PO activity. All corals had demonstrable catecholase, cresolase and laccase activities, but only catecholase and cresolase activities varied significantly among species. Catecholase activity in each coral species was reduced by treatment with EDTA and EGTA, although some coral species were less affected than the others. Overall, these data show remarkable heterogeneity among the seven coral species of boulder-like reef building Caribbean coral. These differences may originate from the level of investment of each coral species into immunity and may explain disease ecology on the reef. Copyright © 2011

  16. 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

  17. Ingestion of Microplastics and Their Impact on Calcification in Reef-Building Corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zink, C. P.; Smith, R. T.

    2016-02-01

    Since the early 1970's, researchers began identifying plastics and other sources of litter as harmful to ecosystems. In recent years, there's been a growing concern about microscopic plastic debris (microplastics) and its impact on marine organisms. Likewise, microplastics are currently and continuously being documented from environmental samples on a global scale. The ecosystems most likely affected by their presence are shallow marine habitats, such as near-shore coral reefs. One concern is that microplastics may be ingested by reef-building corals and negatively impact their physiology. In this study, two species of Caribbean reef-building corals, Orbicella faveolata and Porites porites were investigated for rates of ingesting microplastics. Coral samples were incubated with 100μm micro-beads manufactured with a fluorescent label to aid in recovery and quantification from the coral tissue. Following the consumption of plastic, we measured instantaneous rates of calcification as a proxy for physiological performance compared to controls. Our results indicate that corals ingest microplastic particles and maintain them internally for at least 24 hours. Our initial findings suggest that the ingestion of ≥ 3 microplastic particles cm-2 may negatively impact rates of coral calcification. In light of these preliminary findings, further investigations should examine the long-term effect of environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastics on reef corals and its potential detriment to reef building capacity.

  18. 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...

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

    OpenAIRE

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

    2011-01-01

    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 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 adja...

  20. 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.

  1. 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

    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......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......% 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...

  2. More than one genotype: how common is intracolonial genetic variability in scleractinian corals?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schweinsberg, Maximilian; Weiss, Linda C; Striewski, Sebastian; Tollrian, Ralph; Lampert, Kathrin P

    2015-06-01

    In recent years, a few colonial marine invertebrates have shown intracolonial genetic variability, a previously unreported phenomenon. Intracolonial genetic variability describes the occurrence of more than a single genotype within an individual colony. This variability can be traced back to two underlying processes: chimerism and mosaicism. Chimerism is the fusion of two or more individuals, whereas mosaicism mostly derives from somatic cell mutations. Until now, it remained unclear to what degree the ecologically important group of hermatypic (reef building) corals might be affected. We investigate the occurrence of intracolonial genetic variability in five scleractinian corals: Acropora florida, Acropora hyacinthus, Acropora sarmentosa, Pocillopora species complex and Porites australiensis. The main focus was to test different genera for the phenomenon via microsatellite markers and to distinguish which underlying process caused the genetic heterogeneity. Our results show that intracolonial genetic variability was common (between 46.6% for A. sarmentosa and 23.8% for P. species complex) in all tested corals. The main process was mosaicism (69 cases of 222 tested colonies), but at least one chimera existed in every species. This suggests that intracolonial genetic variability is widespread in scleractinian corals and could challenge the view of a coral colony as an individual and therefore a unit of selection. However, it might also hold potential for colony survival under rapidly changing environmental conditions. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Isolation of an antimicrobial compound produced by bacteria associated with reef-building corals

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jean-Baptiste Raina

    2016-08-01

    Full Text Available Bacterial communities associated with healthy corals produce antimicrobial compounds that inhibit the colonization and growth of invasive microbes and potential pathogens. To date, however, bacteria-derived antimicrobial molecules have not been identified in reef-building corals. Here, we report the isolation of an antimicrobial compound produced by Pseudovibrio sp. P12, a common and abundant coral-associated bacterium. This strain was capable of metabolizing dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP, a sulfur molecule produced in high concentrations by reef-building corals and playing a role in structuring their bacterial communities. Bioassay-guided fractionation coupled with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR and mass spectrometry (MS, identified the antimicrobial as tropodithietic acid (TDA, a sulfur-containing compound likely derived from DMSP catabolism. TDA was produced in large quantities by Pseudovibrio sp., and prevented the growth of two previously identified coral pathogens, Vibrio coralliilyticus and V. owensii, at very low concentrations (0.5 μg/mL in agar diffusion assays. Genome sequencing of Pseudovibrio sp. P12 identified gene homologs likely involved in the metabolism of DMSP and production of TDA. These results provide additional evidence for the integral role of DMSP in structuring coral-associated bacterial communities and underline the potential of these DMSP-metabolizing microbes to contribute to coral disease prevention.

  7. Indirect effects of overfishing on Caribbean reefs: Sponges overgrow reef-building corals

    OpenAIRE

    Loh, Tse-Lynn; Steven E. McMurray; 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. Removal of sponge-eating angelfishes and parrotfishes resulted in > 3 fold increase in overgrowth of corals by sponges, with coral-sponge contact increasing from 11.0% to 25.6%, and these sponges were mostly species palatable to sponge p...

  8. 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.

  9. Mangrove habitats provide refuge from climate change for reef-building corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yates, K. K.; Rogers, C. S.; Herlan, J. J.; Brooks, G. R.; Smiley, N. A.; Larson, R. A.

    2014-03-01

    Risk analyses indicate that more than 90% of the world's reefs will be threatened by climate change and local anthropogenic impacts by the year 2030 under "business as usual" climate scenarios. Increasing temperatures and solar radiation cause coral bleaching that has resulted in extensive coral mortality. Increasing carbon dioxide reduces seawater pH, slows coral growth, and may cause loss of reef structure. Management strategies include establishment of marine protected areas with environmental conditions that promote reef resiliency. However, few resilient reefs have been identified, and resiliency factors are poorly defined. Here we characterize the first natural, non-reef, coral refuge from thermal stress and ocean acidification and identify resiliency factors for mangrove-coral habitats. We measured diurnal and seasonal variations in temperature, salinity, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and seawater chemistry; characterized substrate parameters; and examined water circulation patterns in mangrove communities where scleractinian corals are growing attached to and under mangrove prop roots in Hurricane Hole, St. John, US Virgin Islands. Additionally, we inventoried the coral species and quantified incidences of coral bleaching, mortality and recovery for two major reef-building corals, Colpophyllia natans and Diploria labyrinthiformis, growing in mangrove shaded and exposed (unshaded) areas. At least 33 species of scleractinian corals were growing in association with mangroves. Corals were thriving in low-light (more than 70% attenuation of incident PAR) from mangrove shading and at higher temperatures than nearby reef tract corals. A higher percentage of C. natans colonies was living shaded by mangroves, and no shaded colonies bleached. Fewer D. labyrinthiformis colonies were shaded by mangroves, however more unshaded colonies bleached. A combination of substrate and habitat heterogeniety, proximity of different habitat types, hydrographic

  10. Generating viral metagenomes from the coral holobiont

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Karen Dawn Weynberg

    2014-05-01

    Full Text Available Reef-building corals comprise multipartite symbioses where the cnidarian animal is host to an array of eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms, and the viruses that infect them. These viruses are critical elements of the coral holobiont, serving not only as agents of mortality, but also as potential vectors for lateral gene flow, and as elements encoding a variety of auxiliary metabolic functions. Consequently, understanding the functioning and health of the coral holobiont requires detailed knowledge of the associated viral assemblage and its function. Currently, the most tractable way of uncovering viral diversity and function is through metagenomic approaches, which is inherently difficult in corals because of the complex holobiont community, an extracellular mucus layer that all corals secrete, and the variety of sizes and structures of nucleic acids found in viruses. Here we present the first protocol for isolating, purifying and amplifying viral nucleic acids from corals based on mechanical disruption of cells. This method produces at least 50% higher yields of viral nucleic acids, has very low levels of cellular sequence contamination and captures wider viral diversity than previously used chemical-based extraction methods. We demonstrate that our mechanical-based method profiles a greater diversity of DNA and RNA genomes, including virus groups such as Retro-transcribing and ssRNA viruses, which are absent from metagenomes generated via chemical-based methods. In addition, we briefly present (and make publically available the first paired DNA and RNA viral metagenomes from the coral Acropora tenuis.

  11. Diversity and Evolution of Coral Fluorescent Proteins

    Science.gov (United States)

    Alieva, Naila O.; Konzen, Karen A.; Field, Steven F.; Meleshkevitch, Ella A.; Hunt, Marguerite E.; Beltran-Ramirez, Victor; Miller, David J.; Wiedenmann, Jörg; Salih, Anya; Matz, Mikhail V.

    2008-01-01

    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 structural

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Genet and reef position effects in out-planting of nursery-grown Acropora cervicornis (Scleractinia:Acroporidae in Montego Bay, Jamaica

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andrew M. Ross

    2014-09-01

    Full Text Available The reef-building coral Acropora cervicornis was a dominant ecosystem element on the Caribbean reef until the 1980s, when it declined by some 97% due primarily to anthropogenic ecosystem changes and disease. This branching species expanded its colony footprint and achieved local dominance largely through fragmentation and regrowth, thus is suited to nursery culture towards restoration. In this experiment, fragments of Acropora cervicornis of four lineages or genets were followed and measured for growth and health over 12 months in 2006 and 2007 on buoyant drop-loop line nurseries at one shallow and one deep fore-reef site in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Sixty-five of these corals were then out-planted to wild reef sites of similar depth and condition to their respective nurseries and monitored photographically for 11 months through 2007 and 2008. A period of rapid death was seen in the out-planted material at both sites over the first four months, followed by a period of relative stability or recuperation. Hermodice carunculata predation was the primary problem in the shallow fore-reef, and was combined with a banding syndrome at the deeper site. This syndrome was noted in the samples prior to planting, during a one week storage period on the seafloor. Continued slow decline occurred in the subsequent seven months in the shallow fore-reef site; however, regrowth was noted in the deeper site in the remaining material. Including these losses, final total live coral length was more than fourfold greater than the initial wild harvest: a net increase through multi-stage propagative restoration or coral gardening. Returns were noted particularly in the faster-growing genets of the nursery and larger planted corals tended to retain more material at eleven months, suggesting that propagative restoration programmes invest in stronger genets and larger corals. Adaptive management and maintenance gardening of the planted material and reef would likely have

  17. Application of 1H-NMR metabolomic profiling for reef-building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Emilia M Sogin

    Full Text Available In light of global reef decline new methods to accurately, cheaply, and quickly evaluate coral metabolic states are needed to assess reef health. Metabolomic profiling can describe the response of individuals to disturbance (i.e., shifts in environmental conditions across biological models and is a powerful approach for characterizing and comparing coral metabolism. For the first time, we assess the utility of a proton-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-NMR-based metabolomics approach in characterizing coral metabolite profiles by 1 investigating technical, intra-, and inter-sample variation, 2 evaluating the ability to recover targeted metabolite spikes, and 3 assessing the potential for this method to differentiate among coral species. Our results indicate 1H-NMR profiling of Porites compressa corals is highly reproducible and exhibits low levels of variability within and among colonies. The spiking experiments validate the sensitivity of our methods and showcase the capacity of orthogonal partial least squares discriminate analysis (OPLS-DA to distinguish between profiles spiked with varying metabolite concentrations (0 mM, 0.1 mM, and 10 mM. Finally, 1H-NMR metabolomics coupled with OPLS-DA, revealed species-specific patterns in metabolite profiles among four reef-building corals (Pocillopora damicornis, Porites lobata, Montipora aequituberculata, and Seriatopora hystrix. Collectively, these data indicate that 1H-NMR metabolomic techniques can profile reef-building coral metabolomes and have the potential to provide an integrated picture of the coral phenotype in response to environmental change.

  18. 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.

  19. The immunotranscriptome of the Caribbean reef-building coral Pseudodiploria strigosa.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ocampo, Iván D; Zárate-Potes, Alejandra; Pizarro, Valeria; Rojas, Cristian A; Vera, Nelson E; Cadavid, Luis F

    2015-09-01

    The viability of coral reefs worldwide has been seriously compromised in the last few decades due in part to the emergence of coral diseases of infectious nature. Despite important efforts to understand the etiology and the contribution of environmental factors associated to coral diseases, the mechanisms of immune response in corals are just beginning to be studied systematically. In this study, we analyzed the set of conserved immune response genes of the Caribbean reef-building coral Pseudodiploria strigosa by Illumina-based transcriptome sequencing and annotation of healthy colonies challenged with whole live Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Searching the annotated transcriptome with immune-related terms yielded a total of 2782 transcripts predicted to encode conserved immune-related proteins that were classified into three modules: (a) the immune recognition module, containing a wide diversity of putative pattern recognition receptors including leucine-rich repeat-containing proteins, immunoglobulin superfamily receptors, representatives of various lectin families, and scavenger receptors; (b) the intracellular signaling module, containing components from the Toll-like receptor, transforming growth factor, MAPK, and apoptosis signaling pathways; and (3) the effector module, including the C3 and factor B complement components, a variety of proteases and protease inhibitors, and the melanization-inducing phenoloxidase. P. strigosa displays a highly variable and diverse immune recognition repertoire that has likely contributed to its resilience to coral diseases.

  20. Molecular phylogenetics of geographically restricted Acropora species: implications for threatened species conservation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Richards, Z T; Miller, D J; Wallace, C C

    2013-12-01

    To better understand the underlying causes of rarity and extinction risk in Acropora (staghorn coral), we contrast the minimum divergence ages and nucleotide diversity of an array of species with different range sizes and levels of threat. Time-calibrated Bayesian analyses based upon concatenated nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data implied contemporary range size and vulnerability are linked to species age. However, contrary to previous hypotheses that suggest geographically restricted Acropora species evolved in the Plio-Pleistocene, the molecular phylogeny depicts some Indo-Australian species have greater antiquity, diverging in the Miocene. Species age is not related to range size as a simple positive linear function and interpreting the precise tempo of evolution in this genus is greatly complicated by morphological homoplasy and a sparse fossil record. Our phylogenetic reconstructions provide new examples of how morphology conceals cryptic evolutionary relationships in this keystone genus, and offers limited support for the species groupings currently used in Acropora systematics. We hypothesize that in addition to age, other mechanisms (such as a reticulate ancestry) delimit the contemporary range of some Acropora species, as evidenced by the complex patterns of allele sharing and paraphyly we uncover. Overall, both new and ancient evolutionary information may be lost if geographically restricted and threatened Acropora species are forced to extinction. In order to protect coral biodiversity and resolve the evolutionary history of staghorn coral, further analyses based on comprehensive and heterogeneous morphological and molecular data utilizing reticulate models of evolution are needed. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

  1. ELEVATED TEMPERATURE AND ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT AFFECT CONDITION OF REEF BUILDING CORALS

    Science.gov (United States)

    Abstract and Poster for the EPA Science Forum.Reef-building corals are declining throughout the world, even at locations with low human populations. Declines have been linked to global changes in land use and climate change. EPA's Office of Research and Development is inv...

  2. 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

  3. Indirect impacts of recreational scuba diving: patterns of growth and predation in branching stony corals

    National Research Council Canada - National Science Library

    Guzner, Barak; Novplansky, Ariel; Shalit, Or; Chadwick, Nanette E

    2010-01-01

    .... We compared coral skeletal growth and damage at sites that were protected vs unprotected from diving tourism, and identified tissue mortality through monthly monitoring of the branching stony coral Acropora hemprichii (Ehrenberg, 1834...

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

    OpenAIRE

    Fanny L. Gonzalez-Zapata; Pim Bongaerts; Pim Bongaerts; Catalina Ramírez-Portilla; Catalina Ramírez-Portilla; Boahemaa Adu-Oppong; Gretchen Walljasper; Alejandro Reyes; Alejandro Reyes; Alejandro Reyes; Juan A. Sanchez

    2018-01-01

    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 ...

  5. A novel reef coral symbiosis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pantos, O.; Bythell, J. C.

    2010-09-01

    Reef building corals form close associations with unicellular microalgae, fungi, bacteria and archaea, some of which are symbiotic and which together form the coral holobiont. Associations with multicellular eukaryotes such as polychaete worms, bivalves and sponges are not generally considered to be symbiotic as the host responds to their presence by forming physical barriers with an active growth edge in the exoskeleton isolating the invader and, at a subcellular level, activating innate immune responses such as melanin deposition. This study describes a novel symbiosis between a newly described hydrozoan ( Zanclea margaritae sp. nov.) and the reef building coral Acropora muricata (= A. formosa), with the hydrozoan hydrorhiza ramifying throughout the coral tissues with no evidence of isolation or activation of the immune systems of the host. The hydrorhiza lacks a perisarc, which is typical of symbiotic species of this and related genera, including species that associate with other cnidarians such as octocorals. The symbiosis was observed at all sites investigated from two distant locations on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and appears to be host species specific, being found only in A. muricata and in none of 30 other species investigated at these sites. Not all colonies of A. muricata host the hydrozoans and both the prevalence within the coral population (mean = 66%) and density of emergent hydrozoan hydranths on the surface of the coral (mean = 4.3 cm-2, but up to 52 cm-2) vary between sites. The form of the symbiosis in terms of the mutualism-parasitism continuum is not known, although the hydrozoan possesses large stenotele nematocysts, which may be important for defence from predators and protozoan pathogens. This finding expands the known A. muricata holobiont and the association must be taken into account in future when determining the corals’ abilities to defend against predators and withstand stress.

  6. 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...

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

    OpenAIRE

    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 ideall...

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Tse-Lynn Loh

    2015-04-01

    Full Text Available 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. Congruent patterns of connectivity can inform management for broadcast spawning corals on the Great Barrier Reef.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lukoschek, Vimoksalehi; Riginos, Cynthia; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2016-07-01

    Connectivity underpins the persistence and recovery of marine ecosystems. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem and managed by an extensive network of no-take zones; however, information about connectivity was not available to optimize the network's configuration. We use multivariate analyses, Bayesian clustering algorithms and assignment tests of the largest population genetic data set for any organism on the GBR to date (Acropora tenuis, >2500 colonies; >50 reefs, genotyped for ten microsatellite loci) to demonstrate highly congruent patterns of connectivity between this common broadcast spawning reef-building coral and its congener Acropora millepora (~950 colonies; 20 reefs, genotyped for 12 microsatellite loci). For both species, there is a genetic divide at around 19°S latitude, most probably reflecting allopatric differentiation during the Pleistocene. GBR reefs north of 19°S are essentially panmictic whereas southern reefs are genetically distinct with higher levels of genetic diversity and population structure, most notably genetic subdivision between inshore and offshore reefs south of 19°S. These broadly congruent patterns of higher genetic diversities found on southern GBR reefs most likely represent the accumulation of alleles via the southward flowing East Australia Current. In addition, signatures of genetic admixture between the Coral Sea and outer-shelf reefs in the northern, central and southern GBR provide evidence of recent gene flow. Our connectivity results are consistent with predictions from recently published larval dispersal models for broadcast spawning corals on the GBR, thereby providing robust connectivity information about the dominant reef-building genus Acropora for coral reef managers. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  13. 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.

  14. Abundance and composition of juvenile corals reveals divergent trajectories for coral assemblages across the United Arab Emirates.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pratchett, Morgan S; Baird, Andrew H; Bauman, Andrew G; Burt, John A

    2017-01-30

    Marked shifts in the composition of coral assemblages are occurring at many locations, but it is unknown whether these are permanent shifts reinforced by patterns of population replenishment. This study examined the composition of juvenile coral assemblages across the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Densities of juvenile corals varied significantly among locations, but were highest where coral cover was highest. Juvenile coral assemblages within the Persian Gulf were dominated by Porites, while no Acropora were recorded. We expect therefore, continued declines in Acropora abundance, while observed dominance of Porites is likely to persist. In the Oman Sea, Pocillopora was the dominant juvenile coral, with Acropora and Stylophora also recorded. This study shows that taxonomic differences in replenishment are reinforcing temporal shifts in coral composition within the southern Persian Gulf, but not in the Oman Sea. Differences in environmental conditions and disturbance regimes likely explain the divergent responses between regions. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Garrison, V.H.; Ward, G.

    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 understood and mitigated or

  16. 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.

  17. 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, 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.

  18. Discovery of the Corallivorous Polyclad Flatworm, Amakusaplana acroporae, on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia – the First Report from the Wild

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rawlinson, Kate A.; Stella, Jessica S.

    2012-01-01

    The role of corallivory is becoming increasingly recognised as an important factor in coral health at a time when coral reefs around the world face a number of other stressors. The polyclad flatworm, Amakusaplana acroporae, is a voracious predator of Indo-Pacific acroporid corals in captivity, and its inadvertent introduction into aquaria has lead to the death of entire coral colonies. While this flatworm has been a pest to the coral aquaculture community for over a decade, it has only been found in aquaria and has never been described from the wild. Understanding its biology and ecology in its natural environment is crucial for identifying viable biological controls for more successful rearing of Acropora colonies in aquaria, and for our understanding of what biotic interactions are important to coral growth and fitness on reefs. Using morphological, histological and molecular techniques we determine that a polyclad found on Acropora valida from Lizard Island, Australia is A. acroporae. The presence of extracellular Symbiodinium in the gut and parenchyma and spirocysts in the gut indicates that it is a corallivore in the wild. The examination of a size-range of individuals shows maturation of the sexual apparatus and increases in the number of eyes with increased body length. Conservative estimates of abundance show that A. acroporae occurred on 7 of the 10 coral colonies collected, with an average of 2.6±0.65 (mean ±SE) animals per colony. This represents the first report of A. acroporae in the wild, and sets the stage for future studies of A. acroporae ecology and life history in its natural habitat. PMID:22870308

  19. Discovery of the corallivorous polyclad flatworm, Amakusaplana acroporae, on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia--the first report from the wild.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Kate A Rawlinson

    Full Text Available The role of corallivory is becoming increasingly recognised as an important factor in coral health at a time when coral reefs around the world face a number of other stressors. The polyclad flatworm, Amakusaplana acroporae, is a voracious predator of Indo-Pacific acroporid corals in captivity, and its inadvertent introduction into aquaria has lead to the death of entire coral colonies. While this flatworm has been a pest to the coral aquaculture community for over a decade, it has only been found in aquaria and has never been described from the wild. Understanding its biology and ecology in its natural environment is crucial for identifying viable biological controls for more successful rearing of Acropora colonies in aquaria, and for our understanding of what biotic interactions are important to coral growth and fitness on reefs. Using morphological, histological and molecular techniques we determine that a polyclad found on Acropora valida from Lizard Island, Australia is A. acroporae. The presence of extracellular Symbiodinium in the gut and parenchyma and spirocysts in the gut indicates that it is a corallivore in the wild. The examination of a size-range of individuals shows maturation of the sexual apparatus and increases in the number of eyes with increased body length. Conservative estimates of abundance show that A. acroporae occurred on 7 of the 10 coral colonies collected, with an average of 2.6±0.65 (mean ±SE animals per colony. This represents the first report of A. acroporae in the wild, and sets the stage for future studies of A. acroporae ecology and life history in its natural habitat.

  20. Calibration and Assessment of the New Acropora 'Inter-Branch Skeleton' Palaeothermometer.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sadler, J.; Webb, G. E.; Zhao, J. X.; Nothdurft, L. D.

    2014-12-01

    Coral reefs provide an increasingly important archive of palaeoclimate data that can be used to constrain climate model simulations. Reconstructing past environments may also provide insights into the potential of reef systems to survive changes in the Earth's climate. Geochemically based climate reconstructions are predominately acquired from massive Porites colonies, yet there remain significant spatial and temporal gaps in our understanding of climate evolution where no suitable coralla have been recovered. Branching corals are commonly the dominant species in modern reef facies and their abundance suggests an untapped source for this missing information. The potential of 'inter-branch skeleton' in corymbose Acropora to act as a new palaeoclimate archive is significant. Scanning Electron Microscopy of inter-branch skeleton in Acropora from Heron Reef, southern Great Barrier Reef, reveals a lack of secondary thickening deposits that typically characterize Acropora branches and renders them unsuitable for geochemical archives. Annual density banding, similar to that used for chronological determination of geochemical sampling in massive corals, is also observed within Acropora inter-branch skeleton. Clear seasonal signals in Sr/Ca within the skeletal structure will be correlated against the network of in situ temperature recorders in Heron lagoon and on the southern reef slope to provide a new palaeotemperature transfer equation.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

    OpenAIRE

    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 expected to contribute to ecosystem services and increase coastal protection, biodiversity, fish biomass, and tourism.

  4. 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

  5. Reproduction of deep-sea reef-building corals from the southwestern Atlantic

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pires, D. O.; Silva, J. C.; Bastos, N. D.

    2014-01-01

    The logistics of research on deep-sea organisms imposes restrictions on studies that require repetitive long-term collections. Studies on the reproduction of deep-water corals have commonly been made without appropriate temporal series. This study included Madrepora oculata, Solenosmilia variabilis, Lophelia pertusa, and Enallopsammia rostrata, which are among the primary deep-sea reef building corals off Brazil. Samples were collected during 13 consecutive months by the Campos Basin Deep-Sea Corals Assessment Project (R&D Center of the Brazilian Energy Company, Petrobras) in Campos Basin (CB) off Rio de Janeiro State through a remotely-operated-vehicle at approximately 600 m depth. Of every monthly sampling campaign, an average of four to five colonies of all four species were investigated histologically. Colonies of both sexes were observed, indicating that all four species are gonochoric. For now, this appears to be the predominant reproductive pattern observed in corals in the area, as well as in deep-sea corals in general, where 80% of coral species are gonochoric. Although considered functionally gonochoric, M. oculata and L. pertusa presented a few colonies with different hermaphroditism patterns. E. rostrata and M. oculata presented continuous reproduction. Although fertile year-round, S. variabilis presents a reproductive peak between April and September (Autumn-Spring) in contrast with the seasonal reproduction recorded in the southwestern Pacific. L. pertusa had a seasonal reproductive peak, confirming previous observations of periodic reproduction in this species in the northeastern Atlantic. The possible spawning season of L. pertusa from CB concentrates between May and July (high frequency of mature gametes), while spawning occurs between January and March in the North Atlantic and between September and November in the Gulf of Mexico. Our results suggest that the studied species are broadcast spawners because no embryos or larvae were observed in any

  6. Symbiosis increases coral tolerance to ocean acidification

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ohki, S.; Irie, T.; Inoue, M.; Shinmen, K.; Kawahata, H.; Nakamura, T.; Kato, A.; Nojiri, Y.; Suzuki, A.; Sakai, K.; van Woesik, R.

    2013-04-01

    Increasing the acidity of ocean waters will directly threaten calcifying marine organisms such as reef-building scleractinian corals, and the myriad of species that rely on corals for protection and sustenance. Ocean pH has already decreased by around 0.1 pH units since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and is expected to decrease by another 0.2-0.4 pH units by 2100. This study mimicked the pre-industrial, present, and near-future levels of pCO2 using a precise control system (±5% pCO2), to assess the impact of ocean acidification on the calcification of recently-settled primary polyps of Acropora digitifera, both with and without symbionts, and adult fragments with symbionts. The increase in pCO2 of 100 μatm between the pre-industrial period and the present had more effect on the calcification rate of adult A. digitifera than the anticipated future increases of several hundreds of micro-atmospheres of pCO2. The primary polyps with symbionts showed higher calcification rates than primary polyps without symbionts, suggesting that (i) primary polyps housing symbionts are more tolerant to near-future ocean acidification than organisms without symbionts, and (ii) corals acquiring symbionts from the environment (i.e. broadcasting species) will be more vulnerable to ocean acidification than corals that maternally acquire symbionts.

  7. Key Ecological Interactions of Reef Building Corals - 11-16-2011

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coral reefs are very important marine ecosystems because they support tremendous biodiversity and reefs are critical economic resources many coastal nations. Tropical reef structures are largely built by stony corals. This presentation provides background on basic coral biology t...

  8. 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

    2017-12-02

    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. Amidst 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. The above indicate 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

  9. Sulfur utilization of corals is enhanced by endosymbiotic algae

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ikuko Yuyama

    2016-09-01

    Full Text Available Sulfur-containing compounds are important components of all organisms, but few studies have explored sulfate utilization in corals. Our previous study found that the expression of a sulfur transporter (SLC26A11 was upregulated in the presence of Symbiodinium cells in juveniles of the reef-building coral Acropora tenuis. In this study, we performed autoradiography using 35S-labeled sulfate ions (35SO4 2− to examine the localization and amount of incorporated radioactive sulfate in the coral tissues and symbiotic algae. Incorporated 35SO4 2− was detected in symbiotic algal cells, nematocysts, ectodermal cells and calicoblast cells. The combined results of 35S autoradiography and Alcian Blue staining showed that incorporated 35S accumulated as sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs in the ectodermal cell layer. We also compared the relative incorporation of 35SO4 2− into coral tissues and endosymbiotic algae, and their chemical fractions in dark versus light (photosynthetic conditions. The amount of sulfur compounds, such as GAGs and lipids, generated from 35SO4 2− was higher under photosynthetic conditions. Together with the upregulation of sulfate transporters by symbiosis, our results suggest that photosynthesis of algal endosymbionts contributes to the synthesis and utilization of sulfur compounds in corals.

  10. 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

  11. Clues to Coral Reef Health: Integrating Radiative Transfer Modeling and Hyperspectral Data

    Science.gov (United States)

    Guild, L.; Ganapol, B.; Kramer, P.; Armstrong, R.; Gleason, A.; Torres, J.; Johnson, L.; Garfield, N.

    2002-12-01

    An important contribution to coral reef research is to improve spectral distinction between various health states of coral species in areas subject to harmful anthropogenic activity and climate change. New insights into radiative transfer properties of corals under healthy and stressed conditions can advance understandings of ecological processes on reefs and allow better assessments of the impacts of large-scale bleaching and disease events. Our objective is to examine the spectral and spatial properties of hyperspectral sensors that may be used to remotely sense changes in reef community health. We compare in situ reef environment spectra (healthy coral, stressed coral, dead coral, algae, and sand) with airborne hyperspectral data to identify important spectral characteristics and indices. Additionally, spectral measurements over a range of water depths, relief, and bottom types are compared to help quantify bottom-water column influences. In situ spectra was collected in July and August 2002 at the Long Rock site in the Andros Island, Bahamas coastal zone coral reef. Our primary emphasis is on Acropora palmata (or elkhorn coral), a major reef building coral, which is prevalent in the study area, but is suffering from white band disease. A. palmata is currently being proposed as an endangered species because its populations have severely declined in many areas of the Caribbean. In addition to the A. palmata biotope, we have collected spectra of at least seven other coral biotopes that exist within the study area, each with different coral community composition, density of corals, relief, and size of corals. Coral spectral reflectance is input into a radiative transfer model, CORALMOD (CM1), which is based on a leaf radiative transfer model. In CM1, input coral reflectance measurements produce modeled reflectance through an inversion at each visible wavelength to provide the absorption spectrum. Initially, we have imposed a scattering baseline that is the same

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Carricart-Ganivet, Juan P; Cabanillas-Terán, Nancy; Cruz-Ortega, Israel; Blanchon, Paul

    2012-01-01

    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 breakdown

  13. 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

  14. Development of bacterial biofilms on artificial corals in comparison to surface-associated microbes of hard corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Michael John Sweet

    Full Text Available Numerous studies have demonstrated the differences in bacterial communities associated with corals versus those in their surrounding environment. However, these environmental samples often represent vastly different microbial micro-environments with few studies having looked at the settlement and growth of bacteria on surfaces similar to corals. As a result, it is difficult to determine which bacteria are associated specifically with coral tissue surfaces. In this study, early stages of passive settlement from the water column to artificial coral surfaces (formation of a biofilm were assessed. Changes in bacterial diversity (16S rRNA gene, were studied on artificially created resin nubbins that were modelled from the skeleton of the reef building coral Acropora muricata. These models were dip-coated in sterile agar, mounted in situ on the reef and followed over time to monitor bacterial community succession. The bacterial community forming the biofilms remained significantly different (R = 0.864 p<0.05 from that of the water column and from the surface mucus layer (SML of the coral at all times from 30 min to 96 h. The water column was dominated by members of the α-proteobacteria, the developed community on the biofilms dominated by γ-proteobacteria, whereas that within the SML was composed of a more diverse array of groups. Bacterial communities present within the SML do not appear to arise from passive settlement from the water column, but instead appear to have become established through a selection process. This selection process was shown to be dependent on some aspects of the physico-chemical structure of the settlement surface, since agar-coated slides showed distinct communities to coral-shaped surfaces. However, no significant differences were found between different surface coatings, including plain agar and agar enhanced with coral mucus exudates. Therefore future work should consider physico-chemical surface properties as

  15. 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.

  16. Ocean acidification causes bleaching and productivity loss in coral reef builders.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Anthony, K R N; Kline, D I; Diaz-Pulido, G; Dove, S; Hoegh-Guldberg, O

    2008-11-11

    Ocean acidification represents a key threat to coral reefs by reducing the calcification rate of framework builders. In addition, acidification is likely to affect the relationship between corals and their symbiotic dinoflagellates and the productivity of this association. However, little is known about how acidification impacts on the physiology of reef builders and how acidification interacts with warming. Here, we report on an 8-week study that compared bleaching, productivity, and calcification responses of crustose coralline algae (CCA) and branching (Acropora) and massive (Porites) coral species in response to acidification and warming. Using a 30-tank experimental system, we manipulated CO(2) levels to simulate doubling and three- to fourfold increases [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projection categories IV and VI] relative to present-day levels under cool and warm scenarios. Results indicated that high CO(2) is a bleaching agent for corals and CCA under high irradiance, acting synergistically with warming to lower thermal bleaching thresholds. We propose that CO(2) induces bleaching via its impact on photoprotective mechanisms of the photosystems. Overall, acidification impacted more strongly on bleaching and productivity than on calcification. Interestingly, the intermediate, warm CO(2) scenario led to a 30% increase in productivity in Acropora, whereas high CO(2) lead to zero productivity in both corals. CCA were most sensitive to acidification, with high CO(2) leading to negative productivity and high rates of net dissolution. Our findings suggest that sensitive reef-building species such as CCA may be pushed beyond their thresholds for growth and survival within the next few decades whereas corals will show delayed and mixed responses.

  17. Copepods associated with scleractinian corals: a worldwide checklist and a case study of their impact on the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis (Linnaeus, 1758) (Pocilloporidae).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cheng, Yu Rong; Mayfield, Anderson B; Meng, Pei Jie; Dai, Chang Feng; Huys, Rony

    2016-10-11

    The Cnidaria have more symbiotic copepods than any other group of invertebrates, and the greatest numbers of these associates occur on hard corals. A review of the scattered literature on the diversity and taxonomic composition of scleractinian-associated copepods and their hosts revealed a total of 148 coral species, representing 66 genera and 15 families that serve as hosts to copepods. At present, 363 copepod species, representing 99 genera, 19 families and three orders, have been recorded as associates of scleractinian corals. The total included 288 cyclopoids, 68 siphonostomatoids and seven harpacticoids. Within the Cyclopoida the representation of species varied greatly among the 13 families, with a disproportionate number of species belonging to the Anchimolgidae (141 species) and Xarifiidae (92 species). Data on host utilization and geographical distribution of all copepods living symbiotically with hard corals is synthesized and host specificity patterns are highlighted.The prevalence, intensity, density, and biodiversity of copepod infection of 480 colonies of the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis (Linnaeus, 1758) from Nanwan Bay, southern Taiwan were documented between July 2007 and November 2008. It was hypothesized that certain environmental factors and physiological coral traits, such as the density of Symbiodinium, could influence these infection parameters. Analysis revealed that ectoparasitic copepods were the most likely to infect P. damicornis, and that Asteropontius minutus Kim, 2003 accounted for more than 50% of total copepod density in July-September 2007 when temperatures were high and bleaching occurred in ~75% of the sampled colonies. The data further showed that copepod virulence may be related to their life history strategies, as well as to Symbiodinium density, surface area of the host coral colonies, and concentration of nitrate and chlorophyll-a in the surrounding seawater. By tracking the abundance, diversity, and

  18. 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.

  19. In situ growth experiments of reef-building cold-water corals: The good, the bad and the ugly

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lartaud, F.; Meistertzheim, A. L.; Peru, E.; Le Bris, N.

    2017-03-01

    The ecological study of corals in their habitat is essential to determine the effects of global change and to develop strategies for reef conservation. Based on mark and recovery experiments, we investigated skeletal growth patterns of two reef-building cold-water coral species, Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata, in the Lacaze-Duthiers canyon in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. Coral fragments were collected, stained and deployed for short-term (2.5 months) and long-term (15 months) growth experiments at two sites located 4.5 km and 6.8 km from the canyon head. The analysis of distinct growth parameters (budding, new polyp growth and linear extension of the coral fragments) revealed that growth patterns are consistent among branches of different sizes, but discrepancies arose from the different types of staining used. Calcein appeared more suitable than alizarin red, which strongly limited growth by delaying coral recovery, for short-term experiments at least. Both species grew rapidly when redeployed in their habitat. Effects of long-term experiments could not be observed because corals were exposed to harmful environmental stress, particularly the lethal effect of sedimentation on the fragments. Despite limited in situ deployment, the growth analysis from the short-term experiment highlighted species-specific responses according to the location along a longitudinal gradient in the canyon and were likely related to the local environmental conditions. Consistent with the observed species distributions, M. oculata showed optimal growth at the site closer to the canyon head compared with L. pertusa, which had optimal growth at the deeper site. In situ experiments are difficult to conduct in deep-sea ecosystems, but with the use of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), such a simple approach may be of interest to managers of cold-water coral ecosystems.

  20. Prevalence of skeletal tissue growth anomalies in a scleractinian coral: Turbinaria mesenterina of Malvan Marine Sanctuary, eastern Arabian Sea

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Hussain, A.; De, K.; Thomas, L.; Nagesh, R.; Mote, S.; Ingole, B.S.

    Resale or republication not permitted without written consent of the publisher Dis Aquat Org 121: 79–83, 2016 al. 1981) and endolithic skeleton-boring filamentous fungi (Le Campion-Alsumard et al. 1995). According to Peters et al. (1986) and Coles & Seapy...Ivan Marine Sanctuary (n = 3 transects per site) Hussain et al.: Prevalence of STAs in Turbinaria mesenterina 83 Bak RPM (1983) Neoplasia, regeneration and growth in the reef building coral Acropora palmate. Mar Biol 77: 221−227 Bruno JF, Petes LE, Harvell CD...

  1. 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.

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nicholas R Polato

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: 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. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: 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. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. High CO2 enhances the competitive strength of seaweeds over corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo; Gouezo, Marine; Tilbrook, Bronte; Dove, Sophie; Anthony, Kenneth R N

    2011-01-01

    Space competition between corals and seaweeds is an important ecological process underlying coral-reef dynamics. Processes promoting seaweed growth and survival, such as herbivore overfishing and eutrophication, can lead to local reef degradation. Here, we present the case that increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 may be an additional process driving a shift from corals to seaweeds on reefs. Coral (Acropora intermedia) mortality in contact with a common coral-reef seaweed (Lobophora papenfussii) increased two- to threefold between background CO2 (400 ppm) and highest level projected for late 21st century (1140 ppm). The strong interaction between CO2 and seaweeds on coral mortality was most likely attributable to a chemical competitive mechanism, as control corals with algal mimics showed no mortality. Our results suggest that coral (Acropora) reefs may become increasingly susceptible to seaweed proliferation under ocean acidification, and processes regulating algal abundance (e.g. herbivory) will play an increasingly important role in maintaining coral abundance. PMID:21155961

  7. Gene duplications are extensive and contribute significantly to the toxic proteome of nematocysts isolated from Acropora digitifera (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gacesa, Ranko; Chung, Ray; Dunn, Simon R; Weston, Andrew J; Jaimes-Becerra, Adrian; Marques, Antonio C; Morandini, André C; Hranueli, Daslav; Starcevic, Antonio; Ward, Malcolm; Long, Paul F

    2015-10-13

    Gene duplication followed by adaptive selection is a well-accepted process leading to toxin diversification in venoms. However, emergent genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic evidence now challenges this role to be at best equivocal to other processess . Cnidaria are arguably the most ancient phylum of the extant metazoa that are venomous and such provide a definitive ancestral anchor to examine the evolution of this trait. Here we compare predicted toxins from the translated genome of the coral Acropora digitifera to putative toxins revealed by proteomic analysis of soluble proteins discharged from nematocysts, to determine the extent to which gene duplications contribute to venom innovation in this reef-building coral species. A new bioinformatics tool called HHCompare was developed to detect potential gene duplications in the genomic data, which is made freely available ( https://github.com/rgacesa/HHCompare ). A total of 55 potential toxin encoding genes could be predicted from the A. digitifera genome, of which 36 (65 %) had likely arisen by gene duplication as evinced using the HHCompare tool and verified using two standard phylogeny methods. Surprisingly, only 22 % (12/55) of the potential toxin repertoire could be detected following rigorous proteomic analysis, for which only half (6/12) of the toxin proteome could be accounted for as peptides encoded by the gene duplicates. Biological activities of these toxins are dominatedby putative phospholipases and toxic peptidases. Gene expansions in A. digitifera venom are the most extensive yet described in any venomous animal, and gene duplication plays a significant role leading to toxin diversification in this coral species. Since such low numbers of toxins were detected in the proteome, it is unlikely that the venom is evolving rapidly by prey-driven positive natural selection. Rather we contend that the venom has a defensive role deterring predation or harm from interspecific competition and overgrowth by

  8. 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

  9. 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.

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

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Till Bayer

    Full Text Available 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Diverse staghorn coral fauna on the mesophotic reefs of north-east Australia.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Paul Muir

    Full Text Available Concern for the future of reef-building corals in conditions of rising sea temperatures combined with recent technological advances has led to a renewed interest in documenting the biodiversity of mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs and their potential to provide lineage continuation for coral taxa. Here, we examine species diversity of staghorn corals (genera Acropora and Isopora in the mesophotic zone (below 30 m depth of the Great Barrier Reef and western Coral Sea. Using specimen-based records we found 38 staghorn species in the mesophotic zone, including three species newly recorded for Australia and five species that only occurred below 30 m. Staghorn corals became scarce at depths below 50 m but were found growing in-situ to 73 m depth. Of the 76 staghorn coral species recorded for shallow waters (depth ≤ 30 m in north-east Australia, 21% extended to mesophotic depths with a further 22% recorded only rarely to 40 m depth. Extending into the mesophotic zone provided shallow water species no significant advantage in terms of their estimated global range-size relative to species restricted to shallow waters (means 86.2 X 10(6 km2 and 85.7 X 10(6 km2 respectively, p = 0.98. We found four staghorn coral species at mesophotic depths on the Great Barrier Reef that were previously considered rare and endangered on the basis of their limited distribution in central Indonesia and the far western Pacific. Colonies below 40 m depth showed laterally flattened branches, light and fragile skeletal structure and increased spacing between branches and corallites. The morphological changes are discussed in relation to decreased light, water movement and down-welling coarse sediments. Staghorn corals have long been regarded as typical shallow-water genera, but here we demonstrate the significant contribution of this group to the region's mesophotic fauna and the importance of considering MCEs in reef biodiversity estimates and management.

  13. Diverse staghorn coral fauna on the mesophotic reefs of north-east Australia.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Muir, Paul; Wallace, Carden; Bridge, Tom C L; Bongaerts, Pim

    2015-01-01

    Concern for the future of reef-building corals in conditions of rising sea temperatures combined with recent technological advances has led to a renewed interest in documenting the biodiversity of mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) and their potential to provide lineage continuation for coral taxa. Here, we examine species diversity of staghorn corals (genera Acropora and Isopora) in the mesophotic zone (below 30 m depth) of the Great Barrier Reef and western Coral Sea. Using specimen-based records we found 38 staghorn species in the mesophotic zone, including three species newly recorded for Australia and five species that only occurred below 30 m. Staghorn corals became scarce at depths below 50 m but were found growing in-situ to 73 m depth. Of the 76 staghorn coral species recorded for shallow waters (depth ≤ 30 m) in north-east Australia, 21% extended to mesophotic depths with a further 22% recorded only rarely to 40 m depth. Extending into the mesophotic zone provided shallow water species no significant advantage in terms of their estimated global range-size relative to species restricted to shallow waters (means 86.2 X 10(6) km2 and 85.7 X 10(6) km2 respectively, p = 0.98). We found four staghorn coral species at mesophotic depths on the Great Barrier Reef that were previously considered rare and endangered on the basis of their limited distribution in central Indonesia and the far western Pacific. Colonies below 40 m depth showed laterally flattened branches, light and fragile skeletal structure and increased spacing between branches and corallites. The morphological changes are discussed in relation to decreased light, water movement and down-welling coarse sediments. Staghorn corals have long been regarded as typical shallow-water genera, but here we demonstrate the significant contribution of this group to the region's mesophotic fauna and the importance of considering MCEs in reef biodiversity estimates and management.

  14. 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.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pratchett, M. S.; Trapon, M.; Berumen, M. L.; Chong-Seng, K.

    2011-03-01

    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.

  16. 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.

  17. Environmental symbiont acquisition may not be the solution to warming seas for reef-building corals.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mary Alice Coffroth

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Coral reefs worldwide are in decline. Much of the mortality can be attributed to coral bleaching (loss of the coral's intracellular photosynthetic algal symbiont associated with global warming. How corals will respond to increasing oceanic temperatures has been an area of extensive study and debate. Recovery after a bleaching event is dependent on regaining symbionts, but the source of repopulating symbionts is poorly understood. Possibilities include recovery from the proliferation of endogenous symbionts or recovery by uptake of exogenous stress-tolerant symbionts. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: To test one of these possibilities, the ability of corals to acquire exogenous symbionts, bleached colonies of Porites divaricata were exposed to symbiont types not normally found within this coral and symbiont acquisition was monitored. After three weeks exposure to exogenous symbionts, these novel symbionts were detected in some of the recovering corals, providing the first experimental evidence that scleractinian corals are capable of temporarily acquiring symbionts from the water column after bleaching. However, the acquisition was transient, indicating that the new symbioses were unstable. Only those symbiont types present before bleaching were stable upon recovery, demonstrating that recovery was from the resident in situ symbiont populations. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These findings suggest that some corals do not have the ability to adjust to climate warming by acquiring and maintaining exogenous, more stress-tolerant symbionts. This has serious ramifications for the success of coral reefs and surrounding ecosystems and suggests that unless actions are taken to reverse it, climate change will lead to decreases in biodiversity and a loss of coral reefs.

  18. Enhancing Coral Health Detection Using Spectral Diversity Indices from WorldView-2 Imagery and Machine Learners

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Serge Planes

    2012-10-01

    Full Text Available The worldwide waning health of coral reefs implies an increasing need for monitoring them at colony scale over large areas. Relaying fieldwork considerably, the remote sensing approach can address this need in offering spectral information relevant for coral health detection with 0.5 m spatial accuracy. We investigated the potential of spectral diversity indices to achieve the discrimination of coral-dominated assemblages and health states from novel satellite imagery (WorldView-2, WV2. Both Equitability’s (E and Pielou’s (P operators were used to quantify the evenness of the corrected visible spectral bands (two times 26 combinations of five bands corresponding to remotely sensed colonies. Three scleractinian corals (Porites lobata, P. rus and Acropora pulchra that are primarily involved in Moorea’s reef building (French Polynesia were examined in respect to their health state (healthy or unhealthy, referring to both bleached and dead coral, hereinafter. Using four classifiers, we showed that the Support Vector Machine (SVM greatly discerned among the six coral classes based upon the five WV2 spectral bands (93%, thus surpassing the classification issued from the three traditionally used bands (80%. Coupling the WV2 dataset with Egreen-red, Eyellow-red or E“coastal”-blue-green allowed the SVM performance to attain 96%. On the other hand, adding the E“coastal”-blue to the WV2-dataset contributed to a substantially increase of the classification accuracy derived from the Random Forest classifier, stepping from 64% to 77%. Significant contributions of spectral diversity indices to surveying coral health were further discussed in the light of spectral properties of coral-related pigments. These findings may play a major role for the extensive monitoring of coral health states at a fine scale, and for the management and restoration of damaged coral reefs.

  19. 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

  20. A cross-ocean comparison of responses to settlement cues in reef-building corals

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Sarah W. Davies

    2014-04-01

    Full Text Available Caribbean coral reefs have deteriorated substantially over the past 30 years, which is broadly attributable to the effects of global climate change. In the same time, Indo-Pacific reefs maintain higher coral cover and typically recover rapidly after disturbances. This difference in reef resilience is largely due to much higher coral recruitment rates in the Pacific. We hypothesized that the lack of Caribbean recruitment might be explained by diminishing quality of settlement cues and/or impaired sensitivity of Caribbean coral larvae to those cues, relative to the Pacific. To evaluate this hypothesis, we assembled a collection of bulk samples of reef encrusting communities, mostly consisting of crustose coralline algae (CCA, from various reefs around the world and tested them as settlement cues for several coral species originating from different ocean provinces. Cue samples were meta-barcoded to evaluate their taxonomic diversity. We observed no systematic differences either in cue potency or in strength of larval responses depending on the ocean province, and no preference of coral larvae towards cues from the same ocean. Instead, we detected significant differences in cue preferences among coral species, even for corals originating from the same reef. We conclude that the region-wide disruption of the settlement process is unlikely to be the major cause of Caribbean reef loss. However, due to their high sensitivity to the effects of climate change, shifts in the composition of CCA-associated communities, combined with pronounced differences in cue preferences among coral species, could substantially influence future coral community structure.

  1. 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.

  2. on the growth and photochemical efficiency of Acropora cervicornis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Enochs, I. C.; Manzello, D. P.; Carlton, R.; Schopmeyer, S.; van Hooidonk, R.; Lirman, D.

    2014-06-01

    The effects of light and elevated pCO2 on the growth and photochemical efficiency of the critically endangered staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, were examined experimentally. Corals were subjected to high and low treatments of CO2 and light in a fully crossed design and monitored using 3D scanning and buoyant weight methodologies. Calcification rates, linear extension, as well as colony surface area and volume of A. cervicornis were highly dependent on light intensity. At pCO2 levels projected to occur by the end of the century from ocean acidification (OA), A. cervicornis exhibited depressed calcification, but no change in linear extension. Photochemical efficiency ( F v / F m ) was higher at low light, but unaffected by CO2. Amelioration of OA-depressed calcification under high-light treatments was not observed, and we suggest that the high-light intensity necessary to reach saturation of photosynthesis and calcification in A. cervicornis may limit the effectiveness of this potentially protective mechanism in this species. High CO2 causes depressed skeletal density, but not linear extension, illustrating that the measurement of extension by itself is inadequate to detect CO2 impacts. The skeletal integrity of A. cervicornis will be impaired by OA, which may further reduce the resilience of the already diminished populations of this endangered species.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Gene flow and genetic diversity of a broadcast-spawning coral in northern peripheral populations.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Yuichi Nakajima

    Full Text Available Recently, reef-building coral populations have been decreasing worldwide due to various disturbances. Population genetic studies are helpful for estimating the genetic connectivity among populations of marine sessile organisms with metapopulation structures such as corals. Moreover, the relationship between latitude and genetic diversity is informative when evaluating the fragility of populations. In this study, using highly variable markers, we examined the population genetics of the broadcast-spawning coral Acropora digitifera at 19 sites in seven regions along the 1,000 km long island chain of Nansei Islands, Japan. This area includes both subtropical and temperate habitats. Thus, the coral populations around the Nansei Islands in Japan are northern peripheral populations that would be subjected to environmental stresses different from those in tropical areas. The existence of high genetic connectivity across this large geographic area was suggested for all sites (F(ST < or = 0.033 although small but significant genetic differentiation was detected among populations in geographically close sites and regions. In addition, A. digitifera appears to be distributed throughout the Nansei Islands without losing genetic diversity. Therefore, A. digitifera populations in the Nansei Islands may be able to recover relatively rapidly even when high disturbances of coral communities occur locally if populations on other reefs are properly maintained.

  6. Red fluorescence in coral larvae is associated with a diapause-like state.

    Science.gov (United States)

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

    2016-01-01

    Effective dispersal across environmental gradients is the key to species resilience to environmental perturbation, including climate change. Coral reefs are among the most sensitive ecosystems to global warming, but factors predicting coral dispersal potential remain unknown. In a reef-building coral Acropora millepora, larval fluorescence emerged as a possible indicator of dispersal potential since it correlates with responsiveness to a settlement cue. Here, we show that gene expression in red fluorescent larvae of A. millepora is correlated with diapause-like characteristics highly likely to be associated with extended dispersal. We compared gene expression among three larval fluorescent morphs under three coloured light treatments. While colour morphs did not differ in their gene expression responses to light colour, red larvae demonstrated gene expression signatures of cell cycle arrest and decreased transcription accompanied by elevated ribosome production and heightened defenses against oxidative stress. A meta-analysis revealed that this profile was highly similar to the signatures of elevated thermal tolerance in the same coral species, and moreover, functionally resembled diapause states in an insect and a nematode. Our results support a connection between red fluorescence and long-range dispersal, which offers a new perspective on the molecular underpinnings of coral larval dispersal and the biological function of GFP-like fluorescent proteins. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. A unique coral biomineralization pattern has resisted 40 million years of major ocean chemistry change

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stolarski, Jarosław; Bosellini, Francesca R.; Wallace, Carden C.; Gothmann, Anne M.; Mazur, Maciej; Domart-Coulon, Isabelle; Gutner-Hoch, Eldad; Neuser, Rolf D.; Levy, Oren; Shemesh, Aldo; Meibom, Anders

    2016-06-01

    Today coral reefs are threatened by changes to seawater conditions associated with rapid anthropogenic global climate change. Yet, since the Cenozoic, these organisms have experienced major fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 levels (from greenhouse conditions of high pCO2 in the Eocene to low pCO2 ice-house conditions in the Oligocene-Miocene) and a dramatically changing ocean Mg/Ca ratio. Here we show that the most diverse, widespread, and abundant reef-building coral genus Acropora (20 morphological groups and 150 living species) has not only survived these environmental changes, but has maintained its distinct skeletal biomineralization pattern for at least 40 My: Well-preserved fossil Acropora skeletons from the Eocene, Oligocene, and Miocene show ultra-structures indistinguishable from those of extant representatives of the genus and their aragonitic skeleton Mg/Ca ratios trace the inferred ocean Mg/Ca ratio precisely since the Eocene. Therefore, among marine biogenic carbonate fossils, well-preserved acroporid skeletons represent material with very high potential for reconstruction of ancient ocean chemistry.

  11. Novel Adaptive Photosynthetic Characteristics of Mesophotic Symbiotic Microalgae within the Reef-Building Coral, Stylophora pistillata

    OpenAIRE

    Einbinder, Shai; Gruber, David F; Salomon, Eitan; Liran, Oded; Keren, Nir; Tchernov, Dan

    2016-01-01

    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 (65 m) in the northern Red Sea. Symbiodinium ...

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

    OpenAIRE

    Shai Einbinder; David Gruber; Eitan Solomon; Oded Liran; Nir Keren; Dan Tchernov

    2016-01-01

    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 sp...

  13. 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

  14. High reproductive synchrony of Acropora (Anthozoa: Scleractinia in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea [v1; ref status: indexed, http://f1000r.es/4yh

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jessica Bouwmeester

    2015-01-01

    Full Text Available 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Ecology and Pathology of Novel Plaque-Like Growth Anomalies Affecting a Reef-Building Coral on the Great Barrier Reef

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Lisa Ann Kelly

    2016-08-01

    Full Text Available Here we identify ecological and structural characteristics of a novel plaque-like growth anomaly (GA at outbreak levels in a population of the staghorn coral, Acropora muricata, on the Great Barrier Reef. The smooth appearance of the plaques results from thickening of skeletal structures comprising the coenosteum, leading to infilling of spaces between corallites, and was associated with hyperplasia and hypertrophy of calicodermal cells. This resulted in a 2-fold reduction in corallite height, a 1.6-fold increase in corallite width, and a 2.3-fold increase in the thickness of the calicodermal layer compared to healthy corallites. Plaque-like GAs affected ~67% of corals surveyed, and on average, encased 50% of the surface area of diseased branches. Progression rates along branches averaged 0.22mm day-1 over a 2.5-month period. GAs spread throughout colonies but their presence did not affect the linear extension rates of branches. Reproductive products were absent in 55% of GA tissues, and when present, mean oocyte and spermary numbers were reduced by 50%. However, when present, mean sizes of oocytes and spermaries did not differ between healthy and GA tissues. Symbiodinium densities were also reduced by 50% in polyps within GA tissues, which were characterized by an absence of polyp structure and chaotic arrangement of gastrovascular canals, compromising host nutrition. A 3-fold increase in stores of the immune-related precursor, prophenoloxidase, within GA tissues compared to healthy tissue suggests a primed immune response. Concomitantly, only 35% of prophenoloxidase was converted to the active enzyme phenoloxidase compared to 81% in healthy tissues, consistent with inhibition of immune-related enzymatic reactions by an unknown causative agent. The increasing frequency of emerging disease hotspots highlights the importance of understanding sublethal effects of diseases that have important implications for the fitness and long-term resilience of

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Palaeoecological records of coral community development on a turbid, nearshore reef complex: baselines for assessing ecological change

    Science.gov (United States)

    Johnson, J. A.; Perry, C. T.; Smithers, S. G.; Morgan, K. M.; Santodomingo, N.; Johnson, K. G.

    2017-09-01

    Understanding past coral community development and reef growth is crucial for placing contemporary ecological and environmental change within appropriate reef-building timescales. On Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR), coral reefs situated within coastal inner-shelf zones are a particular priority. This is due to their close proximity to river point sources, and therefore susceptibility to reduced water quality discharged from coastal catchments, many of which have been modified following European settlement (ca. 1850 AD). However, the extent of water-quality decline and its impacts on the GBR's inner-shelf reefs remain contentious. In this study, palaeoecological coral assemblage records were developed for five proximal coral reefs situated within a nearshore turbid-zone reef complex on the central GBR. A total of 29 genera of Scleractinia were identified from the palaeoecological inventory of the reef complex, with key contributions to reef-building made by Acropora, Montipora, and Turbinaria. Discrete intervals pre- and post-dating European settlement, but associated with equivalent water depths, were identified using Bayesian age-depth modelling, enabling investigation of competing ideas of the main drivers of nearshore coral assemblage change. Specifically, we tested the hypotheses that changes in the composition of nearshore coral assemblages are: (1) intrinsically driven and linked to vertical reef development towards sea level, and (2) the result of changes in water quality associated with coastal river catchment modification. Our records found no discernible evidence of change in the generic composition of coral assemblages relative to European settlement. Instead, two distinctive depth-stratified assemblages were identified. This study demonstrates the robust nature of nearshore coral communities under reported water-quality decline and provides a useful context for the monitoring and assessment of ecological change on reefs located within the most

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. Yellow band disease compromises the reproductive output of the Caribbean reef-building coral Montastraea faveolata (Anthozoa, Scleractinia).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Weil, Ernesto; Cróquer, Aldo; Urreiztieta, Isabel

    2009-11-16

    Sexual reproduction is critical to coral population dynamics and the long-term regeneration of coral reefs. Bleaching, disease, and/or anthropogenic-induced tissue/colony loss reduce reproductive output. This is the first attempt to explore the effect of a biotic disease on the reproduction of scleractinian corals. The study aimed to assess the effect of yellow band disease (YBD) on the reproduction of the important Caribbean reef-builder Montastraea faveolata. Tissue samples were collected from diseased, transition, and healthy-looking areas in each of 5 infected colonies and from 5 healthy controls in southwest Puerto Rico. The effect of disease-induced mortality was assessed by collecting samples from the edge and center of surviving small and large, healthy-looking tissue patches from large, previously infected tagged colonies. Fecundity was significantly lower in disease lesions compared to transition and healthy-looking tissues and the controls (99% fewer eggs). Fecundity in transition areas was significantly lower (50%) than in healthy-looking tissues in diseased colonies, which had 23% lower fecundity than control tissues. Although this fecundity drop was not statistically significant, it could indicate a systemic effect of YBD across the colony. Large and small patches had 64 and 84% fewer eggs than controls, respectively, and edge polyps had 97% fewer eggs than those in central control areas. Field observations of the spawning behavior of each tissue area corroborated the histological results. Our results indicate that YBD significantly compromises the reproductive output of M. faveolata, potentially reducing the fitness and consequently, the recovery of this important reef-building species on Caribbean coral reefs.

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

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bonaldo, Roberta M; Hay, Mark E

    2014-01-01

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Temporal consistency in background mortality of four dominant coral taxa along Australia's Great Barrier Reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pisapia, C.; Anderson, K. D.; Pratchett, M. S.

    2016-09-01

    Studies on the population and community dynamics of scleractinian corals typically focus on catastrophic mortality associated with acute disturbances (e.g., coral bleaching and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish), though corals are subject to high levels of background mortality and injuries caused by routine and chronic processes. This study quantified prevalence (proportion of colonies with injuries) and severity (areal extent of injuries on individual colonies) of background mortality and injuries for four common coral taxa (massive Porites, encrusting Montipora, Acropora hyacinthus and branching Pocillopora) on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Sampling was conducted over three consecutive years during which there were no major acute disturbances. A total of 2276 adult colonies were surveyed across 27 sites, within nine reefs and three distinct latitudinal sectors. The prevalence of injuries was very high (>83%) across all four taxa, but highest for Porites (91%) and Montipora (85%). For these taxa ( Montipora and Pocillopora), there was also significant temporal and spatial variation in prevalence of partial mortality. The severity of injuries ranged from 3% to more than 80% and varied among coral taxa, but was fairly constant spatially and temporally. This shows that some injuries have considerable longevity and that corals may invest relatively little in regenerating tissue over sites of previous injuries. Inter-colony variation in the severity of injury also had no apparent effect on the realized growth of individual colonies, suggesting that energy diverted to regeneration has a limited bearing on overall energetic allocation, or impacts on other life-history processes (e.g., reproduction) rather than growth. Establishing background levels of injury and regeneration is important for understanding energy investment and life-history consequences for reef-building corals as well as for predicting susceptibility to, and capacity to recover from, acute

  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. 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.

  10. Calcification responses of symbiotic and aposymbiotic corals to near-future levels of ocean acidification

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ohki, S.; Irie, T.; Inoue, M.; Shinmen, K.; Kawahata, H.; Nakamura, T.; Kato, A.; Nojiri, Y.; Suzuki, A.; Sakai, K.; van Woesik, R.

    2013-11-01

    Increasing the acidity of ocean waters will directly threaten calcifying marine organisms such as reef-building scleractinian corals, and the myriad of species that rely on corals for protection and sustenance. Ocean pH has already decreased by around 0.1 pH units since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and is expected to decrease by another 0.2-0.4 pH units by 2100. This study mimicked the pre-industrial, present, and near-future levels of pCO2 using a precise control system (± 5% pCO2), to assess the impact of ocean acidification on the calcification of recently settled primary polyps of Acropora digitifera, both with and without symbionts, and adult fragments with symbionts. The increase in pCO2 of ~100 μatm between the pre-industrial period and the present had more effect on the calcification rate of adult A. digitifera than the anticipated future increases of several hundreds of micro-atmospheres of pCO2. The primary polyps with symbionts showed higher calcification rates than primary polyps without symbionts, suggesting that: (i) primary polyps housing symbionts are more tolerant to near-future ocean acidification than organisms without symbionts, and (ii) corals acquiring symbionts from the environment (i.e., broadcasting species) will be more vulnerable to ocean acidification than corals that maternally acquire symbionts.

  11. 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...

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

    2016-01-01

    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. PMID:27694823

  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

    2016-10-03

    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. 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.

  16. Health status of corals surrounding Kish Island, Persian Gulf.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Alidoost Salimi, Mahsa; Mostafavi, Pargol Ghavam; Fatemi, Seyyed Mohammad; Aeby, Greta S

    2017-03-30

    Corals in the Persian Gulf exist in a harsh environment with extreme temperature and salinity fluctuations. Understanding the health of these hardy corals may prove useful for predicting the survival of other marine organisms facing the impacts of global climate change. In this study, the health state of corals was surveyed along belt transects at 4 sites on the east side of Kish Island, Iran. Corals had a patchy distribution, low colony densities and species diversity, and were dominated by Acropora, Porites, and Dipsastrea. We found chronic sedimentation on corals, a high prevalence of old partial mortality, abundant bioeroders, and overgrowth of corals by sponges and bryozoans. These are all signs indicating suboptimal environmental conditions for coral reefs. Four types of tissue loss lesions consistent with disease were found: Porites multi-focal chronic tissue loss, Porites peeling tissue loss, Porites focal chronic tissue loss, and Dipsastrea focal sub-acute tissue loss. Overall disease prevalence was 3.6% and there were significant differences in prevalence among the 3 most abundant coral genera. Acropora was numerically dominant within transects yet showed no signs of disease, whereas Porites had a 14% disease prevalence, indicating differential susceptibility to disease among genera. Other coral lesions included pigmentation response in Porites associated with algae invasion or boring organisms, sponge overgrowth, and mucus sheathing in Dipsastrea. The Persian Gulf region is understudied, and this represents one of the first quantitative surveys of coral health and disease on these reefs.

  17. 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.

  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. Macroalgal terpenes function as allelopathic agents against reef corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rasher, Douglas B; Stout, E Paige; Engel, Sebastian; Kubanek, Julia; Hay, Mark E

    2011-10-25

    During recent decades, many tropical reefs have transitioned from coral to macroalgal dominance. These community shifts increase the frequency of algal-coral interactions and may suppress coral recovery following both anthropogenic and natural disturbance. However, the extent to which macroalgae damage corals directly, the mechanisms involved, and the species specificity of algal-coral interactions remain uncertain. Here, we conducted field experiments demonstrating that numerous macroalgae directly damage corals by transfer of hydrophobic allelochemicals present on algal surfaces. These hydrophobic compounds caused bleaching, decreased photosynthesis, and occasionally death of corals in 79% of the 24 interactions assayed (three corals and eight algae). Coral damage generally was limited to sites of algal contact, but algae were unaffected by contact with corals. Artificial mimics for shading and abrasion produced no impact on corals, and effects of hydrophobic surface extracts from macroalgae paralleled effects of whole algae; both findings suggest that local effects are generated by allelochemical rather than physical mechanisms. Rankings of macroalgae from most to least allelopathic were similar across the three coral genera tested. However, corals varied markedly in susceptibility to allelopathic algae, with globally declining corals such as Acropora more strongly affected. Bioassay-guided fractionation of extracts from two allelopathic algae led to identification of two loliolide derivatives from the red alga Galaxaura filamentosa and two acetylated diterpenes from the green alga Chlorodesmis fastigiata as potent allelochemicals. Our results highlight a newly demonstrated but potentially widespread competitive mechanism to help explain the lack of coral recovery on many present-day reefs.

  20. 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

  1. Physiological acclimation to elevated temperature in a reef-building coral from an upwelling environment

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mayfield, A. B.; Fan, T.-Y.; Chen, C.-S.

    2013-12-01

    Recent work has found that pocilloporid corals from regions characterized by unstable temperatures, such as those exposed to periodic upwelling, display a remarkable degree of phenotypic plasticity. In order to understand whether important reef builders from these upwelling reefs remain physiologically uncompromised at temperatures they will experience in the coming decades as a result of global climate change, a long-term elevated temperature experiment was conducted with Pocillopora damicornis specimens collected from Houbihu, a small embayment within Nanwan Bay, southern Taiwan that is characterized by 8-9 °C temperature changes during upwelling events. Upon nine months of exposure to nearly 30 °C, all colony (mortality and surface area), polyp ( Symbiodinium density and chlorophyll a content), tissue (total thickness), and molecular (gene expression and molecular composition)-level parameters were documented at similar levels between experimental corals and controls incubated at 26.5 °C, suggesting that this species can readily acclimate to elevated temperatures that cause significant degrees of stress, or even bleaching and mortality, in conspecifics of other regions of the Indo-Pacific. However, the gastrodermal tissue layer was relatively thicker in corals of the high temperature treatment sampled after nine months, possibly as an adaptive response to shade Symbiodinium from the higher photosynthetically active radiation levels that they were experiencing at that sampling time. Such shading may have prevented high light and high temperature-induced photoinhibition, and consequent bleaching, in these samples.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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 < 0.0005). The proliferation of the various macro-algae C. scalpellifrmis, T. ornata, C. racemosa, T. conaides, U. reticulata, S. wightii, 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.

  12. Coral reproduction in Western Australia

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    James Gilmour

    2016-05-01

    Full Text Available 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  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. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Recurrent disturbances, recovery trajectories, and resilience of coral assemblages on a South Central Pacific reef

    Science.gov (United States)

    Adjeroud, M.; Michonneau, F.; Edmunds, P. J.; Chancerelle, Y.; de Loma, T. Lison; Penin, L.; Thibaut, L.; Vidal-Dupiol, J.; Salvat, B.; Galzin, R.

    2009-09-01

    Coral reefs are increasingly threatened by various disturbances, and a critical challenge is to determine their ability for resistance and resilience. Coral assemblages in Moorea, French Polynesia, have been impacted by multiple disturbances (one cyclone and four bleaching events between 1991 and 2006). The 1991 disturbances caused large declines in coral cover (~51% to ~22%), and subsequent colonization by turf algae (~16% to ~49%), but this phase-shift from coral to algal dominance has not persisted. Instead, the composition of the coral community changed following the disturbances, notably favoring an increased cover of Porites, reduced cover of Montipora and Pocillopora, and a full return of Acropora; in this form, the reef returned to pre-disturbance coral cover within a decade. Thus, this coral assemblage is characterized by resilience in terms of coral cover, but plasticity in terms of community composition.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Coral microbial community dynamics in response to anthropogenic impacts near a major city in the central Red Sea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ziegler, Maren; Roik, Anna; Porter, Adam; Zubier, Khalid; Mudarris, Mohammed S; Ormond, Rupert; Voolstra, Christian R

    2016-04-30

    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. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

  6. Development of gene expression markers of acute heat-light stress in reef-building corals of the genus Porites.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Carly D Kenkel

    Full Text Available Coral reefs are declining worldwide due to increased incidence of climate-induced coral bleaching, which will have widespread biodiversity and economic impacts. A simple method to measure the sub-bleaching level of heat-light stress experienced by corals would greatly inform reef management practices by making it possible to assess the distribution of bleaching risks among individual reef sites. Gene expression analysis based on quantitative PCR (qPCR can be used as a diagnostic tool to determine coral condition in situ. We evaluated the expression of 13 candidate genes during heat-light stress in a common Caribbean coral Porites astreoides, and observed strong and consistent changes in gene expression in two independent experiments. Furthermore, we found that the apparent return to baseline expression levels during a recovery phase was rapid, despite visible signs of colony bleaching. We show that the response to acute heat-light stress in P. astreoides can be monitored by measuring the difference in expression of only two genes: Hsp16 and actin. We demonstrate that this assay discriminates between corals sampled from two field sites experiencing different temperatures. We also show that the assay is applicable to an Indo-Pacific congener, P. lobata, and therefore could potentially be used to diagnose acute heat-light stress on coral reefs worldwide.

  7. Development of gene expression markers of acute heat-light stress in reef-building corals of the genus Porites.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kenkel, Carly D; Aglyamova, Galina; Alamaru, Ada; Bhagooli, Ranjeet; Capper, Roxana; Cunning, Ross; deVillers, Amanda; Haslun, Joshua A; Hédouin, Laetitia; Keshavmurthy, Shashank; Kuehl, Kristin A; Mahmoud, Huda; McGinty, Elizabeth S; Montoya-Maya, Phanor H; Palmer, Caroline V; Pantile, Raffaella; Sánchez, Juan A; Schils, Tom; Silverstein, Rachel N; Squiers, Logan B; Tang, Pei-Ciao; Goulet, Tamar L; Matz, Mikhail V

    2011-01-01

    Coral reefs are declining worldwide due to increased incidence of climate-induced coral bleaching, which will have widespread biodiversity and economic impacts. A simple method to measure the sub-bleaching level of heat-light stress experienced by corals would greatly inform reef management practices by making it possible to assess the distribution of bleaching risks among individual reef sites. Gene expression analysis based on quantitative PCR (qPCR) can be used as a diagnostic tool to determine coral condition in situ. We evaluated the expression of 13 candidate genes during heat-light stress in a common Caribbean coral Porites astreoides, and observed strong and consistent changes in gene expression in two independent experiments. Furthermore, we found that the apparent return to baseline expression levels during a recovery phase was rapid, despite visible signs of colony bleaching. We show that the response to acute heat-light stress in P. astreoides can be monitored by measuring the difference in expression of only two genes: Hsp16 and actin. We demonstrate that this assay discriminates between corals sampled from two field sites experiencing different temperatures. We also show that the assay is applicable to an Indo-Pacific congener, P. lobata, and therefore could potentially be used to diagnose acute heat-light stress on coral reefs worldwide.

  8. Spatial dynamics of benthic competition on coral reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sandin, Stuart A; McNamara, Dylan E

    2012-04-01

    The community structure of sedentary organisms is largely controlled by the outcome of direct competition for space. Understanding factors defining competitive outcomes among neighbors is thus critical for predicting large-scale changes, such as transitions to alternate states within coral reefs. Using a spatially explicit model, we explored the importance of variation in two spatial properties in benthic dynamics on coral reefs: (1) patterns of herbivory are spatially distinct between fishes and sea urchins and (2) there is wide variation in the areal extent into which different coral species can expand. We reveal that the size-specific, competitive asymmetry of corals versus fleshy algae highlights the significance of spatial patterning of herbivory and of coral growth. Spatial dynamics that alter the demographic importance of coral recruitment and maturation have profound effects on the emergent structure of the reef benthic community. Spatially constrained herbivory (as by sea urchins) is more effective than spatially unconstrained herbivory (as by many fish) at opening space for the time needed for corals to settle and to recruit to the adult population. Further, spatially unconstrained coral growth (as by many branching coral species) reduces the number of recruitment events needed to fill a habitat with coral relative to more spatially constrained growth (as by many massive species). Our model predicts that widespread mortality of branching corals (e.g., Acropora spp) and herbivorous sea urchins (particularly Diadema antillarum) in the Caribbean has greatly reduced the potential for restoration across the region.

  9. Coverage, diversity, and functionality of a high-latitude coral community (Tatsukushi, Shikoku Island, Japan.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Vianney Denis

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: Seawater temperature is the main factor restricting shallow-water zooxanthellate coral reefs to low latitudes. As temperatures increase, coral species and perhaps reefs may move into higher-latitude waters, increasing the chances of coral reef ecosystems surviving despite global warming. However, there is a growing need to understand the structure of these high-latitude coral communities in order to analyze their future dynamics and to detect any potential changes. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The high-latitude (32.75°N community surveyed was located at Tatsukushi, Shikoku Island, Japan. Coral cover was 60±2% and was composed of 73 scleractinian species partitioned into 7 functional groups. Although only 6% of species belonged to the 'plate-like' functional group, it was the major contributor to species coverage. This was explained by the dominance of plate-like species such as Acropora hyacinthus and A. solitaryensis. Comparison with historical data suggests a relatively recent colonization/development of A. hyacinthus in this region and a potential increase in coral diversity over the last century. Low coverage of macroalgae (2% of the benthic cover contrasted with the low abundance of herbivorous fishes, but may be reasonably explained by the high density of sea urchins (12.9±3.3 individuals m⁻². CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The structure and composition of this benthic community are relatively remarkable for a site where winter temperature can durably fall below the accepted limit for coral reef development. Despite limited functionalities and functional redundancy, the current benthic structure might provide a base upon which a reef could eventually develop, as characterized by opportunistic and pioneer frame-building species. In addition to increasing seawater temperatures, on-going management actions and sea urchin density might also explain the observed state of this community. A focus on such 'marginal' communities

  10. 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

  11. 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).

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. Seasonal monitoring of coral-algae interactions in fringing reefs of the Gulf of Aqaba, Northern Red Sea

    Science.gov (United States)

    Haas, A.; El-Zibdah, M.; Wild, C.

    2010-03-01

    This paper presents seasonal in situ monitoring data on benthic coverage and coral -algae interactions in high-latitude fringing reefs of the Northern Red Sea over a period of 19 months. More than 30% of all hermatypic corals were involved in interaction with benthic reef algae during winter compared to 17% during summer, but significant correlation between the occurrence of coral -algae interactions and monitored environmental factors such as temperature and inorganic nutrient availability was not detected. Between 5 and 10-m water depth, the macroalgae Caulerpa serrulata, Peyssonnelia capensis and filamentous turf algae represented almost 100% of the benthic algae involved in interaction with corals. Turf algae were most frequently (between 77 and 90% of all interactions) involved in interactions with hermatypic corals and caused most tissue damage to them. Maximum coral tissue loss of 0.75% day-1 was observed for Acropora-turf algae interaction during fall, while an equilibrium between both groups of organisms appeared during summer. Slow-growing massive corals were more resistant against negative algal influence than fast-growing branching corals. Branching corals of the genus Acropora partly exhibited a newly observed phenotypic plasticity mechanism, by development of a bulge towards the competing organism, when in interaction with algae. These findings may contribute to understand the dynamics of phase shifts in coral reefs by providing seasonally resolved in situ monitoring data on the abundance and the competitive dynamic of coral -algae interactions.

  15. Limits to the thermal tolerance of corals adapted to a highly fluctuating, naturally extreme temperature environment

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schoepf, Verena; Stat, Michael; Falter, James L.; McCulloch, Malcolm T.

    2015-12-01

    Naturally extreme temperature environments can provide important insights into the processes underlying coral thermal tolerance. We determined the bleaching resistance of Acropora aspera and Dipsastraea sp. from both intertidal and subtidal environments of the naturally extreme Kimberley region in northwest Australia. Here tides of up to 10 m can cause aerial exposure of corals and temperatures as high as 37 °C that fluctuate daily by up to 7 °C. Control corals were maintained at ambient nearshore temperatures which varied diurnally by 4-5 °C, while treatment corals were exposed to similar diurnal variations and heat stress corresponding to ~20 degree heating days. All corals hosted Symbiodinium clade C independent of treatment or origin. Detailed physiological measurements showed that these corals were nevertheless highly sensitive to daily average temperatures exceeding their maximum monthly mean of ~31 °C by 1 °C for only a few days. Generally, Acropora was much more susceptible to bleaching than Dipsastraea and experienced up to 75% mortality, whereas all Dipsastraea survived. Furthermore, subtidal corals, which originated from a more thermally stable environment compared to intertidal corals, were more susceptible to bleaching. This demonstrates that while highly fluctuating temperatures enhance coral resilience to thermal stress, they do not provide immunity to extreme heat stress events.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. Gene expression of corals in response to macroalgal competitors.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shearer, Tonya L; Snell, Terry W; Hay, Mark E

    2014-01-01

    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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Density-dependent coral recruitment displays divergent responses during distinct early life-history stages.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Doropoulos, Christopher; Evensen, Nicolas R; Gómez-Lemos, Luis A; Babcock, Russell C

    2017-05-01

    Population growth involves demographic bottlenecks that regulate recruitment success during various early life-history stages. The success of each early life-history stage can vary in response to population density, interacting with intrinsic (e.g. behavioural) and environmental (e.g. competition, predation) factors. Here, we used the common reef-building coral Acropora millepora to investigate how density-dependence influences larval survival and settlement in laboratory experiments that isolated intrinsic effects, and post-settlement survival in a field experiment that examined interactions with environmental factors. Larval survival was exceptionally high (greater than 80%) and density-independent from 2.5 to 12 days following spawning. By contrast, there was a weak positive effect of larval density on settlement, driven by gregarious behaviour at the highest density. When larval supply was saturated, settlement was three times higher in crevices compared with exposed microhabitats, but a negative relationship between settler density and post-settlement survival in crevices and density-independent survival on exposed surfaces resulted in similar recruit densities just one month following settlement. Moreover, a negative relationship was found between turf algae and settler survival in crevices, whereas gregarious settlement improved settler survival on exposed surfaces. Overall, our findings reveal divergent responses by coral larvae and newly settled recruits to density-dependent regulation, mediated by intrinsic and environmental interactions.

  4. 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.

  5. Thinking and managing outside the box: coalescing connectivity networks to build region-wide resilience in coral reef ecosystems

    Science.gov (United States)

    Steneck, R. S.; Paris, C. B.; Arnold, S. N.; Ablan-Lagman, M. C.; Alcala, A. C.; Butler, M. J.; McCook, L. J.; Russ, G. R.; Sale, P. F.

    2009-06-01

    As the science of connectivity evolves, so too must the management of coral reefs. It is now clear that the spatial scale of disturbances to coral reef ecosystems is larger and the scale of larval connectivity is smaller than previously thought. This poses a challenge to the current focus of coral reef management, which often centers on the establishment of no-take reserves (NTRs) that in practice are often too small, scattered, or have low stakeholder compliance. Fished species are generally larger and more abundant in protected reserves, where their reproductive potential is often greater, yet documented demographic benefits of these reproductive gains outside reserves are modest at best. Small reproductive populations and limited dispersal of larvae play a role, as does the diminished receptivity to settling larvae of degraded habitats that can limit recruitment by more than 50%. For “demographic connectivity” to contribute to the resilience of coral reefs, it must function beyond the box of no-take reserves. Specifically, it must improve nursery habitats on or near reefs and enhance the reproductive output of ecologically important species throughout coral reef ecosystems. Special protection of ecologically important species (e.g., some herbivores in the Caribbean) and size-regulated fisheries that capitalize on the benefits of NTRs and maintain critical ecological functions are examples of measures that coalesce marine reserve effects and improve the resilience of coral reef ecosystems. Important too is the necessity of local involvement in the management process so that social costs and benefits are properly assessed, compliance increased and success stories accrued.

  6. 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...... to down-regulation at higher irradiances. Coenosarc and polyp tissue (both containing zooxanthellae) showed a wide range of responses in the other corals. Down-regulation of photosynthesis in a single polyp of Pocillopora damicornis was followed after exposure to moderate irradiance, with recovery...... occurring over a further 4 h of shade conditions. All the corals (Acropora millepora, A. nobilis, Cyphastrea serailia, Montipora tuberculosa, Pocillopora damicornis and Porites cylindrica) showed evidence of strong down-regulation of photosynthesis under high irradiance, and little evidence...

  7. Selective coral mortality associated with outbreaks of Acanthaster planci L. in Bootless Bay, Papua New Guinea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pratchett, M S; Schenk, T J; Baine, M; Syms, C; Baird, A H

    2009-01-01

    Population outbreaks of crown-of-thorns sea star (Acanthaster planci L.) remain one of the most significant biological disturbances on tropical coral reefs although the increasing attention given to other threats has greatly limited recent progress in understanding the cause and consequences of this phenomenon. In September 2005 dramatic increases in the abundance of A. planci were observed on reefs within Bootless Bay, Central Province, Papua New Guinea, where few crown-of-thorns have previously been reported. Densities of A. planci peaked at 162 sea stars per hectare and caused extensive coral mortality. This outbreak killed upwards of 55% of live corals, reducing overall coral cover from 42.4% in 2005 down to just 19.1% in March 2006. Declines in coral cover were largely driven by widespread mortality of Acropora spp. which dominated reef assemblages prior to the outbreak. The extensive depletion of Acropora spp. greatly altered the coral composition as well as the physical structure of reef habitats. In the absence of any other major disturbances these coral communities are likely to quickly recover, but this outbreak highlights the ongoing contribution of A. planci to degradation of coral reef environments.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. Variation in the structure of epifaunal invertebrate assemblages among coral hosts

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stella, J. S.; Jones, G. P.; Pratchett, M. S.

    2010-12-01

    The high biodiversity of coral reefs is attributable to the many invertebrate groups which live in symbiotic relationships with other reef organisms, particularly those which associate with the living coral habitat. However, few studies have examined the diversity and community structure of coral-dwelling invertebrates and how they vary among coral species. This study quantified the species richness and composition of animals associated with four common species of branching corals ( Acropora nasuta, A. millepora, Pocillopora damicornis, and Seriatopora hystrix) at Lizard Island in the northern Great Barrier Reef. One hundred and seventy-eight nominal species from 12 different phyla were extracted across 50 replicate colonies of each coral host. A single coral colony, approximately 20 cm in diameter, harbored as many as 73 individuals and 24 species. There were substantial differences in invertebrate species composition among coral hosts of different families as well as genera. Twenty-seven species (15% of all taxa collected) were found on only one of the four different coral species, which may potentially indicate some level of specialization among coral hosts. The distinct assemblages on different coral species, and the presence of potential specialists, suggests invertebrate communities will be sensitive to the differential loss of branching coral species resulting from coral reef degradation.

  11. 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.

  12. Fluorescence census techniques for the early detection of coral recruits

    Science.gov (United States)

    Baird, A. H.; Salih, A.; Trevor-Jones, A.

    2006-03-01

    Many coral recruits are very small and often cryptic at settlement making them difficult to detect with normal census techniques. Here we show that fluorescence census techniques can increase the accuracy of juvenile coral counts in highly fluorescent taxa. Using fluorescent filters at night, counts of coral recruits were 20 50% higher than during the day. Acropora abundances were up to 300% higher, the difference being made up of cryptic individuals, and individuals that were too small to see during the day. Fluorescence techniques will be particularly useful in regions where fluorescent taxa are dominant, such as most Indo-Pacific reefs. The technique offers particular promise to determine the influence of early post-settlement mortality on the ecology of fluorescent taxa, because corals can be detected at the size at which they settle.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Calcification, storm damage and population resilience of tabular corals under climate change.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Joshua S Madin

    Full Text Available Two facets of climate change--increased tropical storm intensity and ocean acidification--are expected to detrimentally affect reef-building organisms by increasing their mortality rates and decreasing their calcification rates. Our current understanding of these effects is largely based on individual organisms' short-term responses to experimental manipulations. However, predicting the ecologically-relevant effects of climate change requires understanding the long-term demographic implications of these organism-level responses. In this study, we investigate how storm intensity and calcification rate interact to affect population dynamics of the table coral Acropora hyacinthus, a dominant and geographically widespread ecosystem engineer on wave-exposed Indo-Pacific reefs. We develop a mechanistic framework based on the responses of individual-level demographic rates to changes in the physical and chemical environment, using a size-structured population model that enables us to rigorously incorporate uncertainty. We find that table coral populations are vulnerable to future collapse, placing in jeopardy many other reef organisms that are dependent upon them for shelter and food. Resistance to collapse is largely insensitive to predicted changes in storm intensity, but is highly dependent on the extent to which calcification influences both the mechanical properties of reef substrate and the colony-level trade-off between growth rate and skeletal strength. This study provides the first rigorous quantitative accounting of the demographic implications of the effects of ocean acidification and changes in storm intensity, and provides a template for further studies of climate-induced shifts in ecosystems, including coral reefs.

  20. Monitored and modeled coral population dynamics and the refuge concept.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Riegl, B; Purkis, S J; Keck, J; Rowlands, G P

    2009-01-01

    With large-scale impacts on coral reefs due to global climatic change projected to increase dramatically, and suitability of many areas for reef growth projected to decrease, the question arises whether particular settings might serve as refugia that can maintain higher coral populations than surrounding areas. We examine this hypothesis on a small, local scale in Honduras, western Caribbean. Dense coral thickets containing high numbers of the endangered coral Acropora cervicornis occur on offshore banks while being rare on the fringing reef on nearby Roatán. Geomorphological setting and community dynamics were evaluated and monitored from 1996 to 2005. A model of population dynamics was developed to test assumptions derived from monitoring. Coral cover on the fringing reef declined in 1998 from >30% to coral cover (32% cover by A. cervicornis on the banks but causes good flushing. Only four A. cervicornis recruits were recorded on the fringing reef over 6 years. Runoff associated with hurricanes caused greater mortality than did bleaching in 1998 and 2005 on the fringing reef, but not on the banks. Since 1870, our analysis suggests that corals on the banks may have been favored during 17 runoff events associated with tropical depressions and storms and potentially also during five bleaching events, but this is more uncertain. Our model suggests that under this disturbance regime, the banks will indeed maintain higher coral populations than the fringing reef and supports the assumption that offshore banks could serve as refugia with the capacity to subsidize depleted mainland populations.

  1. Endosymbiotic flexibility associates with environmental sensitivity in scleractinian corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Putnam, Hollie M; Stat, Michael; Pochon, Xavier; Gates, Ruth D

    2012-11-07

    Flexibility in biological systems is seen as an important driver of macro-ecosystem function and stability. Spatially constrained endosymbiotic settings, however, are less studied, although environmental thresholds of symbiotic corals are linked to the function of their endosymbiotic dinoflagellate communities. Symbiotic flexibility is a hypothesized mechanism that corals may exploit to adapt to climate change. This study explores the flexibility of the coral-Symbiodinium symbiosis through quantification of Symbiodinium ITS2 sequence assemblages in a range of coral species and genera. Sequence assemblages are expressed as an index of flexibility incorporating phylogenetic divergence and relative abundance of Symbiodinium sequences recovered from the host. This comparative analysis reveals profound differences in the flexibility of corals for Symbiodinium, thereby classifying corals as generalists or specifists. Generalists such as Acropora and Pocillopora exhibit high intra- and inter-species flexibility in their Symbiodinium assemblages and are some of the most environmentally sensitive corals. Conversely, specifists such as massive Porites colonies exhibit low flexibility, harbour taxonomically narrow Symbiodinium assemblages, and are environmentally resistant corals. Collectively, these findings challenge the paradigm that symbiotic flexibility enhances holobiont resilience. This underscores the need for a deeper examination of the extent and duration of the functional benefits associated with endosymbiotic diversity and flexibility under environmental stress.

  2. 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.

  3. Coral reefs diversity in Gili Genting Island Sumenep Madura

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Fathorrohman Fathorrohman

    2014-02-01

    Full Text Available Coral reef ecosystem is the most threatened ecosystem among marine ecosystem in the world due to the combination of anthropogenic and natural disturbances. More research is needed to be monitored and assess coral reef ecosystems, which will be used to find understanding of the ecological integrity and further improvement of the protection strategy in the future. This research was aimed to know the diversity of coral reef diversity at Gili Genting Island, Sumenep Madura and evaluate the condition of coral reef ecosystem based on cover the percentage. Line intercept method was used to understand coral reef diversity and its condition in the desired observation station. The result revealed that 9 families, 22 genera and 45 species of coral have been successfully found, in which Acropora is the most common genus found in in Gili Genting Island. The cover percentage analysis also indicated that the condition of coral reef ecosystem in Gili Genting Island could be classified to very bad category where the total average of cover percentage is 12.55%. These findings provide the preliminary information about the condition of coral reef ecosystem in small island that might be useful for the future integrated management based on ecological perspective.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. The effect of selected trace metals on the fertilization success of several scleractinian coral species

    Science.gov (United States)

    Reichelt-Brushett, A. J.; Harrison, P. L.

    2005-12-01

    This study provides new information on the effects of various concentrations of the trace metals copper, lead, zinc, cadmium, and nickel on fertilization success of gametes from the scleractinian reef corals Goniastrea aspera, Goniastrea retiformis, Acropora tenuis, and Acropora longicyathus. The EC50 values (the concentration that reduces the fertilization rate by 50% relative to the control fertilization) for copper effects on fertilization success of these coral species range from 15 to 40 µg/L, which is similar to responses of other marine invertebrates. The EC50 values for lead were 1450 1800 µg/L for the Acropora species, and >2400 µg/L for G. aspera gametes, which indicates that lead was much less toxic than copper. Fertilization responses to zinc and nickel were variable and a significant reduction in fertilization success for A. tenuis gametes was found only at very high cadmium concentrations. The data from this study and other recent research clearly demonstrate that some trace metals impair the fertilization success of gametes from faviid and acroporiid reef corals. Trace metal inputs into reef waters should be limited and controlled to avoid potential interference with sexual reproductive processes of reef corals.

  8. 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

  9. Morphological variation and different branch modularity across contrasting flow conditions in dominant Pocillopora reef-building corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Paz-García, David A; Aldana-Moreno, Alejandro; Cabral-Tena, Rafael A; García-De-León, Francisco J; Hellberg, Michael E; Balart, Eduardo F

    2015-05-01

    Pocillopora corals, the dominant reef-builders in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, exhibit a high level of phenotypic plasticity, making the interpretation of morphological variation and the identification of species challenging. To test the hypothesis that different coral morphospecies represent phenotypes that develop in different flow conditions, we compared branch characters in three Pocillopora morphospecies (P. damicornis, P. verrucosa, and P. meandrina) from two communities in the Gulf of California exposed to contrasting flow conditions. Morphological variation and branch modularity (i.e., the tendency of different sets of branch traits to vary in a coordinated way) were assessed in colonies classified as Pocillopora type 1 according to two mitochondrial regions. Our results can be summarized as follows. (1) Pocillopora type 1 morphospecies corresponded to a pattern of morphological variation in the Gulf of California. Overall, P. damicornis had the thinnest branches and its colonies the highest branch density, followed by P. verrucosa, and then by P. meandrina, which had the thickest branches and its colonies the lowest branch density. (2) The differentiation among morphospecies was promoted by different levels of modularity of traits. P. verrucosa had the highest coordination of traits, followed by P. damicornis, and P. meandrina. (3) The variation and modularity of branch traits were related to water flow condition. Morphology under the high-flow condition was more similar among morphospecies than under the low-flow condition and seemed to be related to mechanisms for coping with these conditions. Our results provide the first evidence that in scleractinian corals different levels of modularity can be promoted by different environmental conditions.

  10. Ocean acidification and warming will lower coral reef resilience

    Science.gov (United States)

    Anthony, Kenneth R N; Maynard, Jeffrey A; Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo; Mumby, Peter J; Marshall, Paul A; Cao, Long; Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove

    2011-01-01

    Ocean warming and acidification from increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 represent major global threats to coral reefs, and are in many regions exacerbated by local-scale disturbances such as overfishing and nutrient enrichment. Our understanding of global threats and local-scale disturbances on reefs is growing, but their relative contribution to reef resilience and vulnerability in the future is unclear. Here, we analyse quantitatively how different combinations of CO2 and fishing pressure on herbivores will affect the ecological resilience of a simplified benthic reef community, as defined by its capacity to maintain and recover to coral-dominated states. We use a dynamic community model integrated with the growth and mortality responses for branching corals (Acropora) and fleshy macroalgae (Lobophora). We operationalize the resilience framework by parameterizing the response function for coral growth (calcification) by ocean acidification and warming, coral bleaching and mortality by warming, macroalgal mortality by herbivore grazing and macroalgal growth via nutrient loading. The model was run for changes in sea surface temperature and water chemistry predicted by the rise in atmospheric CO2 projected from the IPCC's fossil-fuel intensive A1FI scenario during this century. Results demonstrated that severe acidification and warming alone can lower reef resilience (via impairment of coral growth and increased coral mortality) even under high grazing intensity and low nutrients. Further, the threshold at which herbivore overfishing (reduced grazing) leads to a coral–algal phase shift was lowered by acidification and warming. These analyses support two important conclusions: Firstly, reefs already subjected to herbivore overfishing and nutrification are likely to be more vulnerable to increasing CO2. Secondly, under CO2 regimes above 450–500 ppm, management of local-scale disturbances will become critical to keeping reefs within an Acropora-rich domain.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Effects of ocean acidification on the potency of macroalgal allelopathy to a common coral

    Science.gov (United States)

    Del Monaco, Carlos; Hay, Mark E.; Gartrell, Patrick; Mumby, Peter J.; Diaz-Pulido, Guillermo

    2017-02-01

    Many coral reefs have phase shifted from coral to macroalgal dominance. Ocean acidification (OA) due to elevated CO2 is hypothesised to advantage macroalgae over corals, contributing to these shifts, but the mechanisms affecting coral-macroalgal interactions under OA are unknown. Here, we show that (i) three common macroalgae are more damaging to a common coral when they compete under CO2 concentrations predicted to occur in 2050 and 2100 than under present-day conditions, (ii) that two macroalgae damage corals via allelopathy, and (iii) that one macroalga is allelopathic under conditions of elevated CO2, but not at ambient levels. Lipid-soluble, surface extracts from the macroalga Canistrocarpus (=Dictyota) cervicornis were significantly more damaging to the coral Acropora intermedia growing in the field if these extracts were from thalli grown under elevated vs ambient concentrations of CO2. Extracts from the macroalgae Chlorodesmis fastigiata and Amansia glomerata were not more potent when grown under elevated CO2. Our results demonstrate increasing OA advantages seaweeds over corals, that algal allelopathy can mediate coral-algal interactions, and that OA may enhance the allelopathy of some macroalgae. Other mechanisms also affect coral-macroalgal interactions under OA, and OA further suppresses the resilience of coral reefs suffering blooms of macroalgae.

  15. 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...

  16. Discovery of a Strongly-Interrelated Gene Network in Corals under Constant Darkness by Correlation Analysis after Wavelet Transform on Complex Network Model

    OpenAIRE

    Longlong Liu; Jieqiong Qu; Xilong Zhou; Xuefeng Liu; Zhaobao Zhang; Xumin Wang; Tao Liu; Guiming Liu

    2014-01-01

    Coral reefs occupy a relatively small portion of sea area, yet serve as a crucial source of biodiversity by establishing harmonious ecosystems with marine plants and animals. Previous researches mainly focused on screening several key genes induced by stress. Here we proposed a novel method--correlation analysis after wavelet transform of complex network model, to explore the effect of light on gene expression in the coral Acropora millepora based on microarray data. In this method, wavelet t...

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Linking demographic processes of juvenile corals to benthic recovery trajectories in two common reef habitats.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Doropoulos, Christopher; Ward, Selina; Roff, George; González-Rivero, Manuel; Mumby, Peter J

    2015-01-01

    Tropical reefs are dynamic ecosystems that host diverse coral assemblages with different life-history strategies. Here, we quantified how juvenile (coral demographics influenced benthic coral structure in reef flat and reef slope habitats on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Permanent plots and settlement tiles were monitored every six months for three years in each habitat. These environments exhibited profound differences: the reef slope was characterised by 95% less macroalgal cover, and twice the amount of available settlement substrata and rates of coral settlement than the reef flat. Consequently, post-settlement coral survival in the reef slope was substantially higher than that of the reef flat, and resulted in a rapid increase in coral cover from 7 to 31% in 2.5 years. In contrast, coral cover on the reef flat remained low (~10%), whereas macroalgal cover increased from 23 to 45%. A positive stock-recruitment relationship was found in brooding corals in both habitats; however, brooding corals were not directly responsible for the observed changes in coral cover. Rather, the rapid increase on the reef slope resulted from high abundances of broadcast spawning Acropora recruits. Incorporating our results into transition matrix models demonstrated that most corals escape mortality once they exceed 50 mm, but for smaller corals mortality in brooders was double those of spawners (i.e. acroporids and massive corals). For corals on the reef flat, sensitivity analysis demonstrated that growth and mortality of larger juveniles (21-50 mm) highly influenced population dynamics; whereas the recruitment, growth and mortality of smaller corals (coral cover following large-scale perturbation in reef slope environments.

  20. 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.

  1. Is Acropora palmata recovering? A case study in Los Roques National Park, Venezuela.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Croquer, Aldo; Cavada-Blanco, Francoise; Zubillaga, Ainhoa L; Agudo-Adriani, Esteban A; Sweet, Michael

    2016-01-01

    Eight years ago (2007), the distribution and status of Acropora palmata was quantified throughout Los Roques archipelago in Venezuela. The aim was to produce a baseline study for this species which combined population genetics with demographic data. The results highlighted that A. palmata had the potential to recover in at least 6 out of 10 sites surveyed. Recovery potential was assumed to be high at sites with a relatively high abundance of the coral, low disease prevalence, high genetic diversity, and high rates of sexual reproduction. However, as noted, Zubillaga et al. (2008) realized recovery was still strongly dependent on local and regional stressors. In 2014 (this study), the status of A. palmata was re-evaluated at Los Roques. We increased the number of sites from 10 in the original baseline study to 106. This allowed us to assess the population status throughout the entirety of the MPA. Furthermore, we also identified local threats that may have hindered population recovery. Here, we show that A. palmata now has a relatively restricted distribution throughout the park, only occurring in 15% of the sites surveyed. Large stands of old dead colonies were common throughout the archipelago; a result which demonstrates that this species has lost almost 50% of its original distribution over the past decades. The majority of corals recorded were large adults (∼2 m height), suggesting that these older colonies might be less susceptible or more resilient to local and global threats. However, 45% of these surviving colonies showed evidence of partial mortality and degradation of living tissues. Interestingly, the greatest increase in partial mortality occurred at sites with the lowest levels of protection ([Formula: see text]; df = 4, p management in assisting reef recovery. We also recorded a significant reduction ([Formula: see text]; df = 8; p < 0.05) in the density of A. palmata in sites that had previously been categorized as having a high potential for

  2. Is Acropora palmata recovering? A case study in Los Roques National Park, Venezuela

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Aldo Croquer

    2016-01-01

    Full Text Available Eight years ago (2007, the distribution and status of Acropora palmata was quantified throughout Los Roques archipelago in Venezuela. The aim was to produce a baseline study for this species which combined population genetics with demographic data. The results highlighted that A. palmata had the potential to recover in at least 6 out of 10 sites surveyed. Recovery potential was assumed to be high at sites with a relatively high abundance of the coral, low disease prevalence, high genetic diversity, and high rates of sexual reproduction. However, as noted, Zubillaga et al. (2008 realized recovery was still strongly dependent on local and regional stressors. In 2014 (this study, the status of A. palmata was re-evaluated at Los Roques. We increased the number of sites from 10 in the original baseline study to 106. This allowed us to assess the population status throughout the entirety of the MPA. Furthermore, we also identified local threats that may have hindered population recovery. Here, we show that A. palmata now has a relatively restricted distribution throughout the park, only occurring in 15% of the sites surveyed. Large stands of old dead colonies were common throughout the archipelago; a result which demonstrates that this species has lost almost 50% of its original distribution over the past decades. The majority of corals recorded were large adults (∼2 m height, suggesting that these older colonies might be less susceptible or more resilient to local and global threats. However, 45% of these surviving colonies showed evidence of partial mortality and degradation of living tissues. Interestingly, the greatest increase in partial mortality occurred at sites with the lowest levels of protection ( ${X}_{o}^{2}=5.4> {X}_{c}^{2}=4.5$ X o 2 = 5.4 > X c 2 = 4.5 ; df = 4, p {X}_{\\mathrm{cri}}^{2}=15.5$ X exp 2 = 126.8 > X cri 2 = 15.5 ; df = 8; p < 0.05 in the density of A. palmata in sites that had previously been categorized as having a

  3. Reproduction Patterns of Scleractinian Corals in the Central Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Bouwmeester, Jessica

    2013-12-01

    Early work on the reproductive seasonality of corals in the Red Sea suggested that corals exhibit temporal reproductive isolation, unlike on the Great Barrier Reef where many species spawn in synchrony. More recent work has however shown high synchrony in the maturity of gametes in Acropora species, suggesting multi-specific spawning is likely to occur in the Red Sea. In this thesis I investigate the patterns of coral reproduction in the central Red Sea. The spawning season in the central Red Sea lasts four months, from April to July and spawning occurs on nights around the full moon. During this period Acropora species show a peak of spawning in April, with some species spawning again in May. The level of synchrony, quantified with a spawning synchrony index, is comparable to other locations where multi-specific spawning has been reported. Observations over two consecutive years show that the synchrony of spawning was lower in spring 2012 than in spring 2011, and thus that spawning patterns are variable from one year to the other. Coral settlement patterns on artificial substrata confirmed a main spawning season in the spring but also supported reproductive data suggesting that some Porites spawn in October-November. Settlement was studied over 2.5 years on a reef, which had suffered recently from high mortality after a local bleaching event. Settlement appeared low but post-bleaching studies from other locations indicated similar abundances and showed that recruits generally did not increase until 5 years after the bleaching event. Abundance of juvenile corals however started to increase significantly three years after the bleaching. Successful recruitment, although low suggests that the coral assemblage on the affected reef will most likely recover as long as it is not affected by another disturbance.

  4. Culture-dependent and culture-independent analyses reveal no prokaryotic community shifts or recovery of Serratia marcescens in Acropora palmata with white pox disease.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lesser, Michael P; Jarett, Jessica K

    2014-06-01

    Recently, the etiological agent of white pox (WP) disease, also known as acroporid serratiosis, in the endangered coral Acropora palmata is the enteric bacterium Serratia marcescens with the source being localized sewage release onto coastal coral reef communities. Here, we show that both culture-dependent and culture-independent approaches could not recover this bacterium from samples of tissue and mucus from A. palmata colonies affected by WP disease in the Bahamas, or seawater collected adjacent to A. palmata colonies. Additionally, a metagenetic 16S rRNA pyrosequencing study shows no significant difference in the bacterial communities of coral tissues with and without WP lesions. As recent studies have shown for other coral diseases, S. marcescens cannot be identified in all cases of WP disease in several geographically separated populations of A. palmata with the same set of signs. As a result, its identification as the etiological agent of WP disease, and cause of a reverse zoonosis, cannot be broadly supported. However, the prevalence of WP disease associated with S. marcescens does appear to be associated with proximity to population centers, and research efforts should be broadened to examine this association, and to identify other causes of this syndrome. © 2014 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. All rights reserved.

  5. Effects of marine snow and muddy terrigenous sediments on the survival of hard coral recruits

    OpenAIRE

    Fabricius, K. E.; Wild, C.; Wolanski, E.; Abele, Doris

    2003-01-01

    Sedimentation is a major cause of mortality in scleractinian coralrecruits. In this study, we compared the effects of muddy coastalsediments, with and without enrichment by "marine snow" on thesurvivorship of recruits of the hard coral Acropora willisae. Transparentexopolymer particles (TEP) were measured as characteristiccomponents of marine snow using a staining method (Passow&Alldredge1995). Four-week old recruits were exposed to (i) muddy coastal sediments, (ii) TEP, (iii) TEP-enriched mu...

  6. Allelopathic interactions between the brown algal genus Lobophora (Dictyotales, Phaeophyceae) and scleractinian corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vieira, Christophe; Thomas, Olivier P; Culioli, Gérald; Genta-Jouve, Grégory; Houlbreque, Fanny; Gaubert, Julie; De Clerck, Olivier; Payri, Claude E

    2016-01-05

    Allelopathy has been recently suggested as a mechanism by which macroalgae may outcompete corals in damaged reefs. Members of the brown algal genus Lobophora are commonly observed in close contact with scleractinian corals and have been considered responsible for negative effects of macroalgae to scleractinian corals. Recent field assays have suggested the potential role of chemical mediators in this interaction. We performed in situ bioassays testing the allelopathy of crude extracts and isolated compounds of several Lobophora species, naturally associated or not with corals, against four corals in New Caledonia. Our results showed that, regardless of their natural association with corals, organic extracts from species of the genus Lobophora are intrinsically capable of bleaching some coral species upon direct contact. Additionally, three new C21 polyunsaturated alcohols named lobophorenols A-C (1-3) were isolated and identified. Significant allelopathic effects against Acropora muricata were identified for these compounds. In situ observations in New Caledonia, however, indicated that while allelopathic interactions are likely to occur at the macroalgal-coral interface, Lobophora spp. rarely bleached their coral hosts. These findings are important toward our understanding of the importance of allelopathy versus other processes such as herbivory in the interaction between macroalgae and corals in reef ecosystems.

  7. Assessment of survival, mortality and recovery of coral reefs of East Kish Island, Persian Gulf.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jami, M J; Salehduost, A; Negarestan, H

    2010-10-15

    Coral reefs are specialized communities that develop clear, well-lit tropical and subtropical water; they provide shelter and canopy for great variety of organisms, living in mean temperature of 20 degrees C. Coral Bleaching and mortality have been associated with elevated seawater temperature. The aim of the study was to investigate coral bleaching and evaluate health condition of the corals. Distribution of coral reefs around Kish Island was determined by the Timed Swim (TS) technique. This survey carried out in 2 times (May and October, 2009) in 2 depths of 3-5 m and 6-10 m. Two Divers swam in constant speed for a set amount of time in three dive sites. The timed swim survey around the Kish Island showed that the most healthy live hard coral assemblages were found in the site called Persian Gulf seaport, whereas the greatest percentage of bleached corals were located in Jurassic Park station, located at the southeast of the Island. Branching corals (Acropora sp.) were bleached among all 3 stations and no sign of recovery could be detected. In Big coral site suitable substrate for accumulation of living organisms including Echinometra mathaie (sea urchin) existed due to presence of great amount of algae on dead corals and rocks. Based on the observation, it seems that the cause of reef destruction in Kish Island fall in to two categories, natural and human impacts.

  8. The coral immune response facilitates protection against microbes during tissue regeneration.

    Science.gov (United States)

    van de Water, Jeroen A J M; Ainsworth, Tracy D; Leggat, William; Bourne, David G; Willis, Bette L; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2015-07-01

    Increasing physical damage on coral reefs from predation, storms and anthropogenic disturbances highlights the need to understand the impact of injury on the coral immune system. In this study, we examined the regulation of the coral immune response over 10 days following physical trauma artificially inflicted on in situ colonies of the coral Acropora aspera, simultaneously with bacterial colonization of the lesions. Corals responded to injury by increasing the expression of immune system-related genes involved in the Toll-like and NOD-like receptor signalling pathways and the lectin-complement system in three phases (coral-associated bacterial communities were evident following injury based on 16S rRNA gene amplicon pyrosequencing. Bacteria-specific fluorescence in situ hybridization also showed no evidence of bacterial colonization of the wound or regenerating tissues. Coral tissues showed near-complete regeneration of lesions within 10 days. This study demonstrates that corals exhibit immune responses that support rapid recovery following physical injury, maintain coral microbial homeostasis and prevent bacterial infestation that may compromise coral fitness. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  9. Allelopathic interactions between the brown algal genus Lobophora (Dictyotales, Phaeophyceae) and scleractinian corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vieira, Christophe; Thomas, Olivier P.; Culioli, Gérald; Genta-Jouve, Grégory; Houlbreque, Fanny; Gaubert, Julie; de Clerck, Olivier; Payri, Claude E.

    2016-01-01

    Allelopathy has been recently suggested as a mechanism by which macroalgae may outcompete corals in damaged reefs. Members of the brown algal genus Lobophora are commonly observed in close contact with scleractinian corals and have been considered responsible for negative effects of macroalgae to scleractinian corals. Recent field assays have suggested the potential role of chemical mediators in this interaction. We performed in situ bioassays testing the allelopathy of crude extracts and isolated compounds of several Lobophora species, naturally associated or not with corals, against four corals in New Caledonia. Our results showed that, regardless of their natural association with corals, organic extracts from species of the genus Lobophora are intrinsically capable of bleaching some coral species upon direct contact. Additionally, three new C21 polyunsaturated alcohols named lobophorenols A-C (1-3) were isolated and identified. Significant allelopathic effects against Acropora muricata were identified for these compounds. In situ observations in New Caledonia, however, indicated that while allelopathic interactions are likely to occur at the macroalgal-coral interface, Lobophora spp. rarely bleached their coral hosts. These findings are important toward our understanding of the importance of allelopathy versus other processes such as herbivory in the interaction between macroalgae and corals in reef ecosystems.

  10. Coral Reefs

    National Research Council Canada - National Science Library

    Riegl, Bernhard; Bruckner, Andy; Coles, Steve L; Renaud, Philip; Dodge, Richard E

    2009-01-01

    .... Anthropogenic modification of chemical and physical atmospheric dynamics that cause coral death by bleaching and newly emergent diseases due to increased heat and irradiation, as well as decline...

  11. Comparing the effects of symbiotic algae (Symbiodinium) clades C1 and D on early growth stages of Acropora tenuis.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yuyama, Ikuko; Higuchi, Tomihiko

    2014-01-01

    Reef-building corals switch endosymbiotic algae of the genus Symbiodinium during their early growth stages and during bleaching events. Clade C Symbiodinium algae are dominant in corals, although other clades - including A and D - have also been commonly detected in juvenile Acroporid corals. Previous studies have been reported that only molecular data of Symbiodinium clade were identified within field corals. In this study, we inoculated aposymbiotic juvenile polyps with cultures of clades C1 and D Symbiodinium algae, and investigated the different effect of these two clades of Symbiodinium on juvenile polyps. Our results showed that clade C1 algae did not grow, while clade D algae grew rapidly during the first 2 months after inoculation. Polyps associated with clade C1 algae exhibited bright green fluorescence across the body and tentacles after inoculation. The growth rate of polyp skeletons was lower in polyps associated with clade C1 algae than those associated with clade D algae. On the other hand, antioxidant activity (catalase) of corals was not significantly different between corals with clade C1 and clade D algae. Our results suggested that clade D Symbiodinium algae easily form symbiotic relationships with corals and that these algae could contribute to coral growth in early symbiosis stages.

  12. Sexual reproduction of the reef-building coral Diploria labyrinthiformis (Scleractinia:Faviidae,in the Colombian Caribbean

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Elvira M Alvarado Ch

    2004-12-01

    Full Text Available Sexual reproduction of the coral Diploria labyrinthiformis was studied for the first time.Monthly histological analyses at the Corales del Rosario National Park (Colombian Caribbean from May 1997 to April 1998 show that D.labyrinthiformis is a hermaphroditic broadcasting species.It presents an annual gametogenic cycle with a 10-11 month period for gonad investment,in which oogenesis begins in August and ends in May- June.Spermiogenesis is short because sperm cysts were only observed in May tissue samples.In histological collected in May,an average of four mature eggs and six spermatic cysts per fertile mesentery were found.The mean diameter of mature eggs was 297 µm (±97 SDand 90 µm (±33for spermatic cysts.Rapid maturation of eggs from stage II to stage III coincides with increases in air temperature,high number of solar hours per month,decreases in wind velocity and absence of rainfall.Reproductive effort for D.labyrinthiformis (14.07 mm³/cm²/yearwas similar to other Faviidae species.Although gamete release was not observed in the field,the absence of gonads in histological samples in June suggests spawning between May 25 (five days after full moon and June 24.This event coincides with high air temperature,low number of solar hours per month,low wind velocity,and initiation of the rainy season.The earlier spawning time of this species differs from other species of the same family known for the Caribbean region.Rev.Biol.Trop.52(4:859-868.Epub 2005 Jun 24.La reproducción sexual del coral Diploria labyrinthiformis fue estudiada por primera vez.Análisis histológicos mensuales de muestras de D.labyrinthiformis extraídas en el Parque Nacional Natural Corales del Rosario (Caribe colombianoentre mayo de 1997 a abril de 1998,muestran que es una especie hermafrodita,liberadora de gametos. Presenta un ciclo gametogénico anual de 10-11 meses para inversión en gónadas,en el cual la oogénesis comienza en agosto y termina en mayo

  13. Niche specialization of reef-building corals in the mesophotic zone: metabolic trade-offs between divergent Symbiodinium types.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cooper, Timothy F; Ulstrup, Karin E; Dandan, Sana S; Heyward, Andrew J; Kühl, Michael; Muirhead, Andrew; O'Leary, Rebecca A; Ziersen, Bibi E F; Van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2011-06-22

    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, Seriatopora hystrix hosted predominantly Symbiodinium type D1a or D1a-like at shallow depths while those in deeper water were dominated by a Symbiodinium C type closely related to C1. The photosynthesis/respiration (P/R) ratio increased consistently with depth at the two sampling times (November 2008 and April 2009) for P. speciosa and in November 2008 only for S. hystrix, suggesting a reduction in metabolic energy expended for every unit of energy obtained from photosynthesis. However, in April 2009, shallow colonies of S. hystrix exhibited decreased P/R ratios down to depths of approximately 23 m, below which the ratio increased towards the maximum depth sampled. This pattern was mirrored by changes in tissue biomass determined as total protein content. The depth of change in the direction of the P/R ratio correlated with a shift from Symbiodinium D to C-dominated colonies. We conclude that while photobiological flexibility is vital for persistence in contrasting light regimes, a shift in Symbiodinium type may also confer a functional advantage albeit at a metabolic cost with increased depth.

  14. Estimating Sustainable Live-Coral Harvest at Kamiali Wildlife Management Area, Papua New Guinea.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ken Longenecker

    Full Text Available Live coral is harvested throughout the Indo-West Pacific to make lime, used in the consumption of the world's fourth-most consumed drug, betel nut. Coral harvesting is an environmental concern; however, because lime-making is one of the few sources of income in some areas of Papua New Guinea (PNG, the practice is unlikely to stop. To better manage coral harvest, we used standard fishery-yield methods to generate sustainable-harvest guidelines for corymbose Acropora species found on the reef flat and crest at Lababia, PNG. We constructed a yield curve (weight-specific net annual-dry-weight production by: 1 describing the allometric relationship between colony size and dry weight, and using that relationship to estimate the dry weight of Acropora colonies in situ; 2 estimating annual growth of Acropora colonies by estimating in situ, and describing the relationship between, colony dry weight at the beginning and end of one year; and 3 conducting belt-transect surveys to describe weight-frequencies and ultimately to predict annual weight change per square meter for each weight class. Reef habitat covers a total 2,467,550 m2 at Lababia and produces an estimated 248,397 kg/y (dry weight of corymbose Acropora, of which 203,897 kg is produced on the reef flat/crest. We conservatively estimate that 30,706.6 kg of whole, dry, corymbose, Acropora can be sustainably harvested from the reef flat/crest habitat each year provided each culled colony weighs at least 1805 g when dry (or is at least 46 cm along its major axis. Artisanal lime-makers convert 24.8% of whole-colony weight into marketable lime, thus we estimate 7615.2 g of lime can be sustainably produced annually from corymbose Acropora. This value incorporates several safety margins, and should lead to proper management of live coral harvest. Importantly, the guideline recognizes village rights to exploit its marine resources, is consistent with village needs for income, and balances an equally

  15. Satellite SST-Based Coral Disease Outbreak Predictions for the Hawaiian Archipelago

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jamie M. Caldwell

    2016-01-01

    Full Text Available Predicting wildlife disease risk is essential for effective monitoring and management, especially for geographically expansive ecosystems such as coral reefs in the Hawaiian archipelago. Warming ocean temperature has increased coral disease outbreaks contributing to declines in coral cover worldwide. In this study we investigated seasonal effects of thermal stress on the prevalence of the three most widespread coral diseases in Hawai’i: Montipora white syndrome, Porites growth anomalies and Porites tissue loss syndrome. To predict outbreak likelihood we compared disease prevalence from surveys conducted between 2004 and 2015 from 18 Hawaiian Islands and atolls with biotic (e.g., coral density and abiotic (satellite-derived sea surface temperature metrics variables using boosted regression trees. To date, the only coral disease forecast models available were developed for Acropora white syndrome on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR. Given the complexities of disease etiology, differences in host demography and environmental conditions across reef regions, it is important to refine and adapt such models for different diseases and geographic regions of interest. Similar to the Acropora white syndrome models, anomalously warm conditions were important for predicting Montipora white syndrome, possibly due to a relationship between thermal stress and a compromised host immune system. However, coral density and winter conditions were the most important predictors of all three coral diseases in this study, enabling development of a forecasting system that can predict regions of elevated disease risk up to six months before an expected outbreak. Our research indicates satellite-derived systems for forecasting disease outbreaks can be appropriately adapted from the GBR tools and applied for a variety of diseases in a new region. These models can be used to enhance management capacity to prepare for and respond to emerging coral diseases throughout Hawai

  16. Exposure to elevated sea-surface temperatures below the bleaching threshold impairs coral recovery and regeneration following injury.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bonesso, Joshua Louis; Leggat, William; Ainsworth, Tracy Danielle

    2017-01-01

    Elevated sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are linked to an increase in the frequency and severity of bleaching events due to temperatures exceeding corals' upper thermal limits. The temperatures at which a breakdown of the coral-Symbiodinium endosymbiosis (coral bleaching) occurs are referred to as the upper thermal limits for the coral species. This breakdown of the endosymbiosis results in a reduction of corals' nutritional uptake, growth, and tissue integrity. Periods of elevated sea surface temperature, thermal stress and coral bleaching are also linked to increased disease susceptibility and an increased frequency of storms which cause injury and physical damage to corals. Herein we aimed to determine the capacity of corals to regenerate and recover from injuries (removal of apical tips) sustained during periods of elevated sea surface temperatures which result in coral stress responses, but which do not result in coral bleaching (i.e., sub-bleaching thermal stress events). In this study, exposure of the species Acropora aspera to an elevated SST of 32 °C (2 °C below the bleaching threshold, 34 °C) was found to result in reduced fluorescence of green fluorescent protein (GFP), reduced skeletal calcification and a lack of branch regrowth at the site of injury, compared to corals maintained under ambient SST conditions (26 °C). Corals maintained under normal, ambient, sea surface temperatures expressed high GFP fluorescence at the injury site, underwent a rapid regeneration of the coral branch apical tip within 12 days of sustaining injury, and showed extensive regrowth of the coral skeleton. Taken together, our results have demonstrated that periods of sustained increased sea surface temperatures, below the corals' bleaching threshold but above long-term summertime averages, impair coral recovery from damage, regardless of the onset or occurrence of coral bleaching.

  17. Using bacterial extract along with differential gene expression in Acropora millepora larvae to decouple the processes of attachment and metamorphosis.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nachshon Siboni

    Full Text Available 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 (p<0.05 in gene expression profiles of 24 GOI, 12 hours post exposure. Fourteen of those GOI also presented differences in expression (p<0.05 following exposure to the threshold concentration of bacterial TBP-containing extract. The specificity of the bacterial TBP-containing extract to induce the metamorphic stage in A. millepora larvae without attachment, using a robust, low cost, accurate, ecologically relevant and highly reproducible RT-qPCR assay, allowed partially decoupling of the transcriptomic processes of attachment and metamorphosis. 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

  18. Systematic Analysis of White Pox Disease in Acropora palmata of the Florida Keys and Role of Serratia marcescens.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Joyner, Jessica L; Sutherland, Kathryn P; Kemp, Dustin W; Berry, Brett; Griffin, Ashton; Porter, James W; Amador, Molly H B; Noren, Hunter K G; Lipp, Erin K

    2015-07-01

    White pox disease (WPD) affects the threatened elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata. Owing in part to the lack of a rapid and simple diagnostic test, there have been few systematic assessments of the prevalence of acroporid serratiosis (caused specifically by Serratia marcescens) versus general WPD signs. Six reefs in the Florida Keys were surveyed between 2011 and 2013 to determine the disease status of A. palmata and the prevalence of S. marcescens. WPD was noted at four of the six reefs, with WPD lesions found on 8 to 40% of the colonies surveyed. S. marcescens was detected in 26.9% (7/26) of the WPD lesions and in mucus from apparently healthy colonies both during and outside of disease events (9%; 18/201). S. marcescens was detected with greater frequency in A. palmata than in the overlying water column, regardless of disease status (P = 0.0177). S. marcescens could not be cultured from A. palmata but was isolated from healthy colonies of other coral species and was identified as pathogenic pulsed-field gel electrophoresis type PDR60. WPD lesions were frequently observed on the reef, but unlike in prior outbreaks, no whole-colony death was observed. Pathogenic S. marcescens was circulating on the reef but did not appear to be the primary pathogen in these recent WPD episodes, suggesting that other pathogens or stressors may contribute to signs of WPD. Results highlight the critical importance of diagnostics in coral disease investigations, especially given that field manifestation of disease may be similar, regardless of the etiological agent. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

  19. Habitat Selectivity and Reliance on Live Corals for Indo-Pacific Hawkfishes (Family: Cirrhitidae).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coker, Darren J; Hoey, Andrew S; Wilson, Shaun K; Depczynski, Martial; Graham, Nicholas A J; Hobbs, Jean-Paul A; Holmes, Thomas H; Pratchett, Morgan S

    2015-01-01

    Hawkfishes (family: Cirrhitidae) are small conspicuous reef predators that commonly perch on, or shelter within, the branches of coral colonies. This study examined habitat associations of hawkfishes, and explicitly tested whether hawkfishes associate with specific types of live coral. Live coral use and habitat selectivity of hawkfishes was explored at six locations from Chagos in the central Indian Ocean extending east to Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. A total of 529 hawkfishes from seven species were recorded across all locations with 63% of individuals observed perching on, or sheltering within, live coral colonies. Five species (all except Cirrhitus pinnulatus and Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus) associated with live coral habitats. Cirrhitichthys falco selected for species of Pocillopora while Paracirrhites arcatus and P. forsteri selected for both Pocillopora and Acropora, revealing that these habitats are used disproportionately more than expected based on the local cover of these coral genera. Habitat selection was consistent across geographic locations, and species of Pocillopora were the most frequently used and most consistently selected even though this coral genus never comprised more than 6% of the total coral cover at any of the locations. Across locations, Paracirrhites arcatus and P. forsteri were the most abundant species and variation in their abundance corresponded with local patterns of live coral cover and abundance of Pocilloporid corals, respectively. These findings demonstrate the link between small predatory fishes and live coral habitats adding to the growing body of literature highlighting that live corals (especially erect branching corals) are critically important for sustaining high abundance and diversity of fishes on coral reefs.

  20. Habitat Selectivity and Reliance on Live Corals for Indo-Pacific Hawkfishes (Family: Cirrhitidae.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Darren J Coker

    Full Text Available Hawkfishes (family: Cirrhitidae are small conspicuous reef predators that commonly perch on, or shelter within, the branches of coral colonies. This study examined habitat associations of hawkfishes, and explicitly tested whether hawkfishes associate with specific types of live coral. Live coral use and habitat selectivity of hawkfishes was explored at six locations from Chagos in the central Indian Ocean extending east to Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. A total of 529 hawkfishes from seven species were recorded across all locations with 63% of individuals observed perching on, or sheltering within, live coral colonies. Five species (all except Cirrhitus pinnulatus and Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus associated with live coral habitats. Cirrhitichthys falco selected for species of Pocillopora while Paracirrhites arcatus and P. forsteri selected for both Pocillopora and Acropora, revealing that these habitats are used disproportionately more than expected based on the local cover of these coral genera. Habitat selection was consistent across geographic locations, and species of Pocillopora were the most frequently used and most consistently selected even though this coral genus never comprised more than 6% of the total coral cover at any of the locations. Across locations, Paracirrhites arcatus and P. forsteri were the most abundant species and variation in their abundance corresponded with local patterns of live coral cover and abundance of Pocilloporid corals, respectively. These findings demonstrate the link between small predatory fishes and live coral habitats adding to the growing body of literature highlighting that live corals (especially erect branching corals are critically important for sustaining high abundance and diversity of fishes on coral reefs.

  1. Habitat Selectivity and Reliance on Live Corals for Indo-Pacific Hawkfishes (Family: Cirrhitidae)

    KAUST Repository

    Coker, Darren James

    2015-11-03

    Hawkfishes (family: Cirrhitidae) are small conspicuous reef predators that commonly perch on, or shelter within, the branches of coral colonies. This study examined habitat associations of hawkfishes, and explicitly tested whether hawkfishes associate with specific types of live coral. Live coral use and habitat selectivity of hawkfishes was explored at six locations from Chagos in the central Indian Ocean extending east to Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. A total of 529 hawkfishes from seven species were recorded across all locations with 63% of individuals observed perching on, or sheltering within, live coral colonies. Five species (all except Cirrhitus pinnulatus and Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus) associated with live coral habitats. Cirrhitichthys falco selected for species of Pocillopora while Paracirrhites arcatus and P. forsteri selected for both Pocillopora and Acropora, revealing that these habitats are used disproportionately more than expected based on the local cover of these coral genera. Habitat selection was consistent across geographic locations, and species of Pocillopora were the most frequently used and most consistently selected even though this coral genus never comprised more than 6% of the total coral cover at any of the locations. Across locations, Paracirrhites arcatus and P. forsteri were the most abundant species and variation in their abundance corresponded with local patterns of live coral cover and abundance of Pocilloporid corals, respectively. These findings demonstrate the link between small predatory fishes and live coral habitats adding to the growing body of literature highlighting that live corals (especially erect branching corals) are critically important for sustaining high abundance and diversity of fishes on coral reefs.

  2. Biotic control of skeletal growth by scleractinian corals in aragonite-calcite seas.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Tomihiko Higuchi

    Full Text Available Modern scleractinian coral skeletons are commonly composed of aragonite, the orthorhombic form of CaCO3. Under certain conditions, modern corals produce calcite as a secondary precipitate to fill pore space. However, coral construction of primary skeletons from calcite has yet to be demonstrated. We report a calcitic primary skeleton produced by the modern scleractinian coral Acropora tenuis. When uncalcified juveniles were incubated from the larval stage in seawater with low mMg/Ca levels, the juveniles constructed calcitic crystals in parts of the primary skeleton such as the septa; the deposits were observable under Raman microscopy. Using scanning electron microscopy, we observed different crystal morphologies of aragonite and calcite in a single juvenile skeleton. Quantitative analysis using X-ray diffraction showed that the majority of the skeleton was composed of aragonite even though we had exposed the juveniles to manipulated seawater before their initial crystal nucleation and growth processes. Our results indicate that the modern scleractinian coral Acropora mainly produces aragonite skeletons in both aragonite and calcite seas, but also has the ability to use calcite for part of its skeletal growth when incubated in calcite seas.

  3. The promiscuous larvae: flexibility in the establishment of symbiosis in corals

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cumbo, V. R.; Baird, A. H.; van Oppen, M. J. H.

    2013-03-01

    Coral reefs thrive in part because of the symbiotic partnership between corals and Symbiodinium. While this partnership is one of the keys to the success of coral reef ecosystems, surprisingly little is known about many aspects of coral symbiosis, in particular the establishment and development of symbiosis in host species that acquire symbionts anew in each generation. More specifically, the point at which symbiosis is established (i.e., larva vs. juvenile) remains uncertain, as does the source of free-living Symbiodinium in the environment. In addition, the capacity of host and symbiont to form novel combinations is unknown. To explore patterns of initial association between host and symbiont, larvae of two species of Acropora were exposed to sediment collected from three locations on the Great Barrier Reef. A high proportion of larvae established symbiosis shortly after contact with sediments, and Acropora larvae were promiscuous, taking up multiple types of Symbiodinium. The Symbiodinium types acquired from the sediments reflected the symbiont assemblage within a wide range of cnidarian hosts at each of the three sites, suggesting potential regional differences in the free-living Symbiodinium assemblage. Coral larvae clearly have the capacity to take up Symbiodinium prior to settlement, and sediment is a likely source. Promiscuous larvae allow species to associate with Symbiodinium appropriate for potentially novel environments that may be experienced following dispersal.

  4. Comparative Effects of Different Disturbances in Coral Reef Habitats in Moorea, French Polynesia

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Mélanie L. Trapon

    2011-01-01

    Full Text Available Degradation and loss of critical coastal habitats has significant ramifications for marine fisheries, such that knowledge of changes in habitat quality and quantity are fundamental to effective ecosystem management. This study explores changes in the structure of coral reef habitats, specifically changes in coral cover and composition, in Moorea, French Polynesia, to assess the independent and combined effects of different disturbances since 1979. During this period, reefs on the north coast have been subject to coral bleaching, severe tropical storms, as well as outbreaks of Acanthaster. Coral cover varied significantly among years, showing marked declines during some, but not all, disturbances. The greatest rates of coral loss coincided with outbreaks of A. planci. Moreover, successive disturbances have had differential effects among coral genera, leading to strong directional shifts in coral composition. Acropora is declining in abundance and coral assemblages are becoming increasingly dominated by Pocillopora and Porites. Observed changes in the cover and composition of corals are likely to have further significant impacts on the reef fish assemblages. Given that significant disturbances have been mostly associated with outbreaks of A. planci, rather than climate change, effective ecosystem management may reduce and/or delay impending effects of climate change.

  5. The effects of coral bleaching on settlement preferences and growth of juvenile butterflyfishes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cole, A J; Lawton, R J; Pisapia, C; Pratchett, M S

    2014-07-01

    Coral bleaching and associated mortality is an increasingly prominent threat to coral reef ecosystems. Although the effects of bleaching-induced coral mortality on reef fishes have been well demonstrated, corals can remain bleached for several weeks prior to recovery or death and little is known about how bleaching affects resident fishes during this time period. This study compared growth rates of two species of juvenile butterflyfishes (Chaetodon aureofasciatus and Chaetodon lunulatus) that were restricted to feeding upon either bleached or healthy coral tissue of Acropora spathulata or Pocillopora damicornis. Coral condition (bleached vs. unbleached) had no significant effects on changes in total length or weight over a 23-day period. Likewise, in a habitat choice experiment, juvenile butterflyfishes did not discriminate between healthy and bleached corals, but actively avoided using recently dead colonies. These results indicate that juvenile coral-feeding fishes are relatively robust to short term effects of bleaching events, provided that the corals do recover. Crown Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  6. The Presence of Biomarker Enzymes of Selected Scleractinian Corals of Palk Bay, Southeast Coast of India

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    R. Anithajothi

    2014-01-01

    Full Text Available The health and existence of coral reefs are in danger by an increasing range of environmental and anthropogenic impacts. The causes of coral reef decline include worldwide climate change, shoreline development, habitat destruction, pollution, sedimentation and overexploitation. These disasters have contributed to an estimated loss of 27% of the reefs. If the current pressure continues unabated, the estimated loss of coral reef will be about 60% by the year 2030. Therefore, the present study was aimed to analyze the enzymes involved in stress induced by coral pathogen and its resistance. We focused on the enzymes involved in melanin synthesis pathway (phenoloxidase (PO and peroxidases (POD and free radical scavenging enzymes (super oxide dismutase (SOD, catalase (CAT and glutathione peroxidase (Gpx in selected scleractinian corals such as Acropora formosa, Echinopora lamellosa, Favia favus, Favites halicora, Porites sp., and Anacropora forbesi. Overall, PO activity of coral was significantly lower than that of zooxanthellae except for Favia favus. Coral colonies with lower PO and POD activities are prone to disease. Maximum antioxidant defensive enzymes were observed in Favia favus followed by Echinopora lamellose. It is concluded that assay of these enzymes can be used as biomarkers for identifying the susceptibility of corals towards coral bleaching induced by pathogen.

  7. Low sediment loads affect survival of coral recruits: the first weeks are crucial

    Science.gov (United States)

    Moeller, Mareen; Nietzer, Samuel; Schils, Tom; Schupp, Peter J.

    2017-03-01

    Increased sedimentation due to anthropogenic activities is a threat to many nearshore coral reefs. The effects on adult corals have been studied extensively and are well known. Studies about the impact of sedimentation on the early life stages of scleractinian corals, however, are rare although recruitment is essential for conserving and restoring coral reefs. Laboratory and in situ experiments with recruits of different age classes focused on the broadcast-spawning species Acropora hyacinthus and the brooding coral Leptastrea purpurea. Recruits were exposed to different sediment loads over three to five weeks. Applied sediment loads were more than one order of magnitude lower than those known to affect survival of adult coral colonies. Growth and survival of newly settled recruits were negatively affected by sediment loads that had no effect on the growth and survival of one-month-old recruits. All experiments indicated that newly settled coral recruits are most sensitive to sedimentation within the first two to four weeks post settlement. The co-occurrence of moderate sedimentation events during and immediately after periods of coral spawning can therefore reduce recruitment success substantially. These findings provide new information to develop comprehensive sediment management plans for the conservation and recovery of coral reefs affected by chronic or acute sedimentation events.

  8. Evaluation of Stony Coral Indicators for Coral Reef ...

    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 their response to gradients of human disturbance. The purpose of the study was to identify indicators that could be used for regulatory assessments under authority of the Clean Water Act--this requires that indicators distinguish anthropogenic disturbances from natural variation. Stony coral indicators were tested for correlation with human disturbance across gradients located on three different sides of the island. At the most intensely disturbed location, five of eight primary indicators were highly correlated with distance from the source of disturbance: Coral taxa richness, average colony size, the coefficient of variation of colony size (an indicator of colony size heterogeneity), total topographic coral surface area, and live coral surface area. An additional set of exploratory indicators related to rarity, reproductive and spawning mode, and taxonomic identity were also screened for association with disturbance at the same location. For the other two locations, there were no significant changes in indicator values and therefore no discernible effects of human activity. Coral indicators demonstrated sufficient precision to detect levels of change that would be applicable in a regio

  9. Comparative embryology of eleven species of stony corals (Scleractinia).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Okubo, Nami; Mezaki, Takuma; Nozawa, Yoko; Nakano, Yoshikatsu; Lien, Yi-Ting; Fukami, Hironobu; Hayward, David C; Ball, Eldon E

    2013-01-01

    A comprehensive understanding of coral reproduction and development is needed because corals are threatened in many ways by human activity. Major threats include the loss of their photosynthetic symbionts (Symbiodinium) caused by rising temperatures (bleaching), reduced ability to calcify caused by ocean acidification, increased storm severity associated with global climate change and an increase in predators caused by runoff from human agricultural activity. In spite of these threats, detailed descriptions of embryonic development are not available for many coral species. The current consensus is that there are two major groups of stony corals, the "complex" and the "robust". In this paper we describe the embryonic development of four "complex" species, Pseudosiderastrea tayamai, Galaxea fascicularis, Montipora hispida, and Pavona Decussata, and seven "robust" species, Oulastrea crispata, Platygyra contorta, Favites abdita, Echinophyllia aspera, Goniastrea favulus, Dipsastraea speciosa (previously Favia speciosa), and Phymastrea valenciennesi (previously Montastrea valenciennesi). Data from both histologically sectioned embryos and whole mounts are presented. One apparent difference between these two major groups is that before gastrulation the cells of the complex corals thus far described (mainly Acropora species) spread and flatten to produce the so-called prawn chip, which lacks a blastocoel. Our present broad survey of robust and complex corals reveals that prawn chip formation is not a synapomorphy of complex corals, as Pavona Decussata does not form a prawn chip and has a well-developed blastocoel. Although prawn chip formation cannot be used to separate the two clades, none of the robust corals which we surveyed has such a stage. Many robust coral embryos pass through two periods of invagination, separated by a return to a spherical shape. However, only the second of these periods is associated with endoderm formation. We have therefore termed the first

  10. Evolutionary insights into scleractinian corals using comparative genomic hybridizations

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Aranda Manuel

    2012-09-01

    Full Text Available Abstract Background 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. Results Our results showed that the current microarray platform for A. palmata is able to provide biological relevant information for a wide variety of coral species covering both the complex clade as well the robust clade. Analysis of the fraction of highly diverged genes showed a significantly higher amount of genes without annotation corroborating previous findings that point towards a higher rate of divergence for taxonomically restricted genes. Among the genes with annotation, we found many mitochondrial genes to be highly diverged in M. faveolata when compared to A. palmata, while the majority of nuclear encoded genes maintained an average divergence rate. Conclusions The use of present microarray platforms for transcriptional analyses in different coral species will greatly enhance the understanding of the molecular basis of stress and health and highlight evolutionary differences between scleractinian coral species. On a genomic basis, we show that cDNA arrays can be used to identify patterns of divergence. Mitochondrion-encoded genes seem to have diverged faster than

  11. Comparative embryology of eleven species of stony corals (Scleractinia.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Nami Okubo

    Full Text Available A comprehensive understanding of coral reproduction and development is needed because corals are threatened in many ways by human activity. Major threats include the loss of their photosynthetic symbionts (Symbiodinium caused by rising temperatures (bleaching, reduced ability to calcify caused by ocean acidification, increased storm severity associated with global climate change and an increase in predators caused by runoff from human agricultural activity. In spite of these threats, detailed descriptions of embryonic development are not available for many coral species. The current consensus is that there are two major groups of stony corals, the "complex" and the "robust". In this paper we describe the embryonic development of four "complex" species, Pseudosiderastrea tayamai, Galaxea fascicularis, Montipora hispida, and Pavona Decussata, and seven "robust" species, Oulastrea crispata, Platygyra contorta, Favites abdita, Echinophyllia aspera, Goniastrea favulus, Dipsastraea speciosa (previously Favia speciosa, and Phymastrea valenciennesi (previously Montastrea valenciennesi. Data from both histologically sectioned embryos and whole mounts are presented. One apparent difference between these two major groups is that before gastrulation the cells of the complex corals thus far described (mainly Acropora species spread and flatten to produce the so-called prawn chip, which lacks a blastocoel. Our present broad survey of robust and complex corals reveals that prawn chip formation is not a synapomorphy of complex corals, as Pavona Decussata does not form a prawn chip and has a well-developed blastocoel. Although prawn chip formation cannot be used to separate the two clades, none of the robust corals which we surveyed has such a stage. Many robust coral embryos pass through two periods of invagination, separated by a return to a spherical shape. However, only the second of these periods is associated with endoderm formation. We have therefore

  12. Evidence of initial coral community recovery at Discovery Bay on Jamaica’s North Coast

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    M. James C. Crabbe

    2014-09-01

    Full Text Available Current challenges to coral reef sustainability include overfishing, destructive fishing practices, bleaching, acidification, sea-level rise, starfish, algae, agricultural run-off, coastal and resort development, pollution, diseases, invasive species and hurricanes. We used SCUBA belt transects to record coral cover and digital image analysis in the Dairy Bull Reef off the north coast of Jamaica and found that it is a positive example of how reefs can recover after major environmental disturbance. Live coral cover increased from 13±5% in 2006 to 31±7% in 2008, while live Acropora cervicornis increased from 2±2% in 2006 to 22±7% in 2008. Coral cover levels were maintained until 2012.

  13. 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

  14. Building

    OpenAIRE

    Seavy, Ryan

    2014-01-01

    Building for concrete is temporary. The building of wood and steel stands against the concrete to give form and then gives way, leaving a trace of its existence behind. Concrete is not a building material. One does not build with concrete. One builds for concrete. MARCH

  15. Suspended sediments limit coral sperm availability

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ricardo, Gerard F.; Jones, Ross J.; Clode, Peta L.; Humanes, Adriana; Negri, Andrew P.

    2015-01-01

    Suspended sediment from dredging activities and natural resuspension events represent a risk to the reproductive processes of coral, and therefore the ongoing maintenance of reefal populations. To investigate the underlying mechanisms that could reduce the fertilisation success in turbid water, we conducted several experiments exposing gametes of the corals Acropora tenuis and A. millepora to two sediment types. Sperm limitation was identified in the presence of siliciclastic sediment (230 and ~700 mg L−1), with 2–37 fold more sperm required to achieve maximum fertilisation rates, when compared with sediment-free treatments. This effect was more pronounced at sub-optimum sperm concentrations. Considerable (>45%) decreases in sperm concentration at the water’s surface was recorded in the presence of siliciclastic sediment and a >20% decrease for carbonate sediment. Electron microscopy then confirmed sediment entangled sperm and we propose entrapment and sinking is the primary mechanism reducing sperm available to the egg. Longer exposure to suspended sediments and gamete aging further decreased fertilisation success when compared with a shorter exposure. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that high concentrations of suspended sediments effectively remove sperm from the water’s surface during coral spawning events, reducing the window for fertilisation with potential subsequent flow-on effects for recruitment. PMID:26659008

  16. Unexpected diversity of cnidarian integrins: expression during coral gastrulation

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ball Eldon E

    2008-05-01

    Full Text Available Abstract Background Adhesion mediated through the integrin family of cell surface receptors is central to early development throughout the Metazoa, playing key roles in cell-extra cellular matrix adhesion and modulation of cadherin activity during the convergence and extension movements of gastrulation. It has been suggested that Caenorhabditis elegans, which has a single β and two α integrins, might reflect the ancestral integrin complement. Investigation of the integrin repertoire of anthozoan cnidarians such as the coral Acropora millepora is required to test this hypothesis and may provide insights into the original roles of these molecules. Results Two novel integrins were identified in Acropora. AmItgα1 shows features characteristic of α integrins lacking an I-domain, but phylogenetic analysis gives no clear indication of its likely binding specificity. AmItgβ2 lacks consensus cysteine residues at positions 8 and 9, but is otherwise a typical β integrin. In situ hybridization revealed that AmItgα1, AmItgβ1, and AmItgβ2 are expressed in the presumptive endoderm during gastrulation. A second anthozoan, the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, has at least four β integrins, two resembling AmItgβ1 and two like AmItgβ2, and at least three α integrins, based on its genomic sequence. Conclusion In two respects, the cnidarian data do not fit expectations. First, the cnidarian integrin repertoire is more complex than predicted: at least two βs in Acropora, and at least three αs and four βs in Nematostella. Second, whereas the bilaterian αs resolve into well-supported groups corresponding to those specific for RGD-containing or laminin-type ligands, the known cnidarian αs are distinct from these. During early development in Acropora, the expression patterns of the three known integrins parallel those of amphibian and echinoderm integrins.

  17. Unexpected diversity of cnidarian integrins: expression during coral gastrulation.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Knack, Brent A; Iguchi, Akira; Shinzato, Chuya; Hayward, David C; Ball, Eldon E; Miller, David J

    2008-05-09

    Adhesion mediated through the integrin family of cell surface receptors is central to early development throughout the Metazoa, playing key roles in cell-extra cellular matrix adhesion and modulation of cadherin activity during the convergence and extension movements of gastrulation. It has been suggested that Caenorhabditis elegans, which has a single beta and two alpha integrins, might reflect the ancestral integrin complement. Investigation of the integrin repertoire of anthozoan cnidarians such as the coral Acropora millepora is required to test this hypothesis and may provide insights into the original roles of these molecules. Two novel integrins were identified in Acropora. AmItgalpha1 shows features characteristic of alpha integrins lacking an I-domain, but phylogenetic analysis gives no clear indication of its likely binding specificity. AmItgbeta2 lacks consensus cysteine residues at positions 8 and 9, but is otherwise a typical beta integrin. In situ hybridization revealed that AmItgalpha1, AmItgbeta1, and AmItgbeta2 are expressed in the presumptive endoderm during gastrulation. A second anthozoan, the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, has at least four beta integrins, two resembling AmItgbeta1 and two like AmItgbeta2, and at least three alpha integrins, based on its genomic sequence. In two respects, the cnidarian data do not fit expectations. First, the cnidarian integrin repertoire is more complex than predicted: at least two betas in Acropora, and at least three alphas and four betas in Nematostella. Second, whereas the bilaterian alphas resolve into well-supported groups corresponding to those specific for RGD-containing or laminin-type ligands, the known cnidarian alphas are distinct from these. During early development in Acropora, the expression patterns of the three known integrins parallel those of amphibian and echinoderm integrins.

  18. Crowning corals

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Raghukumar, C.

    and the atolls. Reefs all over the world are dwindling fast. The major agents of destruction of coral reefs are abiotic and biotic factors such as hurricanes, bioerosion, sedimentation, eutrophication, pollution, predation and diseases. Pollution by oil spill...

  19. Raiding the Coral Nurseries?

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Alison M. Jones

    2011-08-01

    Full Text Available A recent shift in the pattern of commercial harvest in the Keppel Island region of the southern inshore Great Barrier Reef raises concern about the depletion of a number of relatively rare restricted range taxa. The shift appears to be driven by demand from the United States (US for corals for domestic aquaria. Data from the annual status reports from the Queensland Coral Fishery were compared with export trade data to the US from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES. Evidence was found of recent increases in the harvest of species from the Mussidae family (Acanthastrea spp. which appears to be largely driven by demand from the US. On present trends, the industry runs the risk of localized depletion of Blastomussa and Scolymia; evidenced by an increase in the harvest of small specimens and the trend of decreasing harvest despite a concurrent increase in demand. Considering their relatively high sediment tolerance compared to other reef-building species, and the current lack of information about their functional role in reef stability, the trend raises concerns about the impact of the harvest on local coral communities. The recent shift in harvest patterns could have impacts on slow-growing species by allowing harvest beyond the rate of population regeneration. In light of these factors, combined with the value of such species to local tourism, a commercial coral fishery based on uncommon but highly sought-after species may not be ecologically sustainable or economically viable in the Keppels.

  20. Photoreception and signal transduction in corals: proteomic and behavioral evidence for cytoplasmic calcium as a mediator of light responsivity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hilton, J Daniel; Brady, Aisling K; Spaho, Skender A; Vize, Peter D

    2012-12-01

    Little is known about how corals sense and respond to light. In this report the proteome of coral is explored using 2D protein electrophoresis in two species, Montastraea cavernosa and Acropora millepora. Multiple protein species have major shifts in abundance in both species when sampled in daylight compared to corals sampled late in the night. These changes were observed both in larvae lacking zooxanthellae and in adult tissue containing zooxanthellae, including both Pacific and Caribbean corals. When larvae kept in the dark were treated with either thapsigargin or ionomycin, compounds that raise the level of cytoplasmic calcium, the night pattern of proteins shifted to the day pattern. This implies that photoreceptors responding to light elevate calcium levels and that calcium acts as the second messenger relaying light responses in corals. Corals spawn at night, and spawning can be delayed by exposure to light or pushed forward by early artificial sunsets. In a series of behavioral experiments, treatment of corals with ionomycin or thapsigargin was found to delay broadcast spawning in M. franksi, demonstrating that pharmacologically altering cytoplasmic calcium levels generates the same response as light exposure. Together these results show that the photo-responsive cells of corals detect and respond to light by altering cytoplasmic calcium levels, similarly to the transduction pathways in complex invertebrate eyes. The primacy of cytoplasmic calcium levels in light responsivity has broad implications for coral reproduction, including predicting how different species spawn at different times after sunset and how reproductive isolation is achieved during coral speciation.

  1. Status of Coral Reef Communities on Two Carbonate Platforms (Tun Sakaran Marine Park, East Sabah, Malaysia

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    A. Montagne

    2013-01-01

    Full Text Available This study concerns three sites, located on carbonate platforms, east Sabah: Gaya West, Gaya East, and Mantabuan. At each site, the dominant coral shapes and their health were recorded (lagoons and outer slopes. Densities of echinoderms, Tridacna, and nudibranchs were recorded while fish density was estimated. Generally, the coral vitality is low (≤50% living corals. Massive corals dominate all sites, except the Gaya West-outer slope where coral coverage and diversity are the highest. On the Mantabuan-mesh reef, a diverse Acropora assemblage dominates the landscape. On the reef flat of Gaya East, monospecific circa 10 meter coral patches occur. Primary producers are scarce on all sites. Sea urchins, dominated by Diadema, are abundant on the Gaya East-reef flat and the Gaya West-mesh reef. Sea stars and holothurids are the most prevalent in Gaya West-outer slope, although they remain scarce. Crinoids are only abundant in Mantabuan. Stegastes damselfish highly characterizes the sites of Gaya East (reef flat and inner slope and the Mantabuan-mesh reef. On the Mantabuan-outer slope, parrotfish and other fishes are plentiful. No sign of eutrophication has been detected and natural hypersedimentation and/or eventual ancient bleaching events appear to be the direct principal causes of coral death or coral degradation.

  2. Local extinction of a coral reef fish explained by inflexible prey choice

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brooker, R. M.; Munday, P. L.; Brandl, S. J.; Jones, G. P.

    2014-12-01

    While global extinctions of marine species are infrequent, local extinctions are becoming common. However, the role of habitat degradation and resource specialisation in explaining local extinction is unknown. On coral reefs, coral bleaching is an increasingly frequent cause of coral mortality that can result in dramatic changes to coral community composition. Coral-associated fishes are often specialised on a limited suite of coral species and are therefore sensitive to these changes. This study documents the local extinction of a corallivorous reef fish, Oxymonacanthus longirostris, following a mass bleaching event that altered the species composition of associated coral communities. Local extinction only occurred on reefs that also completely lost a key prey species, Acropora millepora, even though coral cover remained high. In an experimental test, fish continued to select bleached A. millepora over the healthy, but less-preferred prey species that resisted bleaching. These results suggest that behavioural inflexibility may limit the ability of specialists to cope with even subtle changes to resource availability.

  3. Stepwise Evolution of Coral Biomineralization Revealed with Genome-Wide Proteomics and Transcriptomics

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sawada, Hitoshi; Satoh, Noriyuki

    2016-01-01

    Despite the importance of stony corals in many research fields related to global issues, such as marine ecology, climate change, paleoclimatogy, and metazoan evolution, very little is known about the evolutionary origin of coral skeleton formation. In order to investigate the evolution of coral biomineralization, we have identified skeletal organic matrix proteins (SOMPs) in the skeletal proteome of the scleractinian coral, Acropora digitifera, for which large genomic and transcriptomic datasets are available. Scrupulous gene annotation was conducted based on comparisons of functional domain structures among metazoans. We found that SOMPs include not only coral-specific proteins, but also protein families that are widely conserved among cnidarians and other metazoans. We also identified several conserved transmembrane proteins in the skeletal proteome. Gene expression analysis revealed that expression of these conserved genes continues throughout development. Therefore, these genes are involved not only skeleton formation, but also in basic cellular functions, such as cell-cell interaction and signaling. On the other hand, genes encoding coral-specific proteins, including extracellular matrix domain-containing proteins, galaxins, and acidic proteins, were prominently expressed in post-settlement stages, indicating their role in skeleton formation. Taken together, the process of coral skeleton formation is hypothesized as: 1) formation of initial extracellular matrix between epithelial cells and substrate, employing pre-existing transmembrane proteins; 2) additional extracellular matrix formation using novel proteins that have emerged by domain shuffling and rapid molecular evolution and; 3) calcification controlled by coral-specific SOMPs. PMID:27253604

  4. Chronic exposure of corals to fine sediments: lethal and sub-lethal impacts.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Flores, Florita; Hoogenboom, Mia O; Smith, Luke D; Cooper, Timothy F; Abrego, David; Negri, Andrew P

    2012-01-01

    Understanding the sedimentation and turbidity thresholds for corals is critical in assessing the potential impacts of dredging projects in tropical marine systems. In this study, we exposed two species of coral sampled from offshore locations to six levels of total suspended solids (TSS) for 16 weeks in the laboratory, including a 4 week recovery period. Dose-response relationships were developed to quantify the lethal and sub-lethal thresholds of sedimentation and turbidity for the corals. The sediment treatments affected the horizontal foliaceous species (Montipora aequituberculata) more than the upright branching species (Acropora millepora). The lowest sediment treatments that caused full colony mortality were 30 mg l(-1) TSS (25 mg cm(-2) day(-1)) for M. aequituberculata and 100 mg l(-1) TSS (83 mg cm(-2) day(-1)) for A. millepora after 12 weeks. Coral mortality generally took longer than 4 weeks and was closely related to sediment accumulation on the surface of the corals. While measurements of damage to photosystem II in the symbionts and reductions in lipid content and growth indicated sub-lethal responses in surviving corals, the most reliable predictor of coral mortality in this experiment was long-term sediment accumulation on coral tissue.

  5. Cumulative impacts: thermally bleached corals have reduced capacity to clear deposited sediment.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bessell-Browne, Pia; Negri, Andrew P; Fisher, Rebecca; Clode, Peta L; Jones, Ross

    2017-06-02

    The interaction between local, anthropogenic stressors, and larger scale regional/global stressors, is often used to explain the current poor condition of many corals reefs. This form of cumulative pressure is clearly manifested by situations where dredging projects happen to coincide with marine heatwaves that have caused coral bleaching. A key pressure associated with dredging is elevated sedimentation. In this study, 3 coral species (Acropora millepora, Porites spp. and Turbinaria reniformis), representing three common morphologies (branching, massive and foliose respectively), were experimentally induced to bleach by exposure to a temperature of 31 °C for 21 d. The corals were then subjected to a range of sedimentation rates (0, 11, 22 and 40 mg cm(-2) d(-1)), and their sediment-rejection ability quantified after 1 and 7 successive sediment deposition events. Bleached corals were less capable of removing sediments from their surfaces, and sediment accumulated 3 to 4-fold more than on normally-pigmented corals. Repeated deposition resulted in a ~3-fold increase in the amount of sediment remaining on the corals, regardless of bleaching status. These results suggest that adaptive management practices need to be developed to reduce the impacts of future dredging projects that follow or coincide with elevated sea surface temperatures and coral bleaching events.

  6. Acute ecotoxicology of natural oil and gas condensate to coral reef larvae

    Science.gov (United States)

    Negri, Andrew P.; Brinkman, Diane L.; Flores, Florita; Botté, Emmanuelle S.; Jones, Ross J.; Webster, Nicole S.

    2016-02-01

    Risks posed by oil spills to coral reefs are difficult to evaluate, partially due to the absence of studies that adequately assess toxicity to relevant coral reef species. Here we experimentally tested the acute toxicity of condensate, representing a fraction of light crude oil, to coral (Acropora tenuis) and sponge (Rhopaloeides odorabile) larvae. The metamorphosis of coral larvae was inhibited at total petroleum aromatic hydrocarbon (TPAH) concentrations of water accommodated fractions (WAF) as low as 103 μg l-1, similar to concentrations detected in seawater following large spills. The sensitivity of coral larvae increased by 40% when co-exposed to UV light that they might encounter in shallow reefal systems. Condensate WAF was more toxic to coral larvae than predicted by summing the toxicity of its main components (benzene, toluene, p-xylene and napthalene). In contrast, the sensitivity of sponge larvae to condensate WAF (>10,000 μg l-1 TPAH) was far less than coral in the presence and absence of UV, but similar to that of other marine invertebrates. While these results highlight the relative sensitivity of coral larvae to oil, further research is needed to better understand and predict the impacts and risks posed by hydrocarbons to tropical reef systems.

  7. Chronic exposure of corals to fine sediments: lethal and sub-lethal impacts.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Florita Flores

    Full Text Available Understanding the sedimentation and turbidity thresholds for corals is critical in assessing the potential impacts of dredging projects in tropical marine systems. In this study, we exposed two species of coral sampled from offshore locations to six levels of total suspended solids (TSS for 16 weeks in the laboratory, including a 4 week recovery period. Dose-response relationships were developed to quantify the lethal and sub-lethal thresholds of sedimentation and turbidity for the corals. The sediment treatments affected the horizontal foliaceous species (Montipora aequituberculata more than the upright branching species (Acropora millepora. The lowest sediment treatments that caused full colony mortality were 30 mg l(-1 TSS (25 mg cm(-2 day(-1 for M. aequituberculata and 100 mg l(-1 TSS (83 mg cm(-2 day(-1 for A. millepora after 12 weeks. Coral mortality generally took longer than 4 weeks and was closely related to sediment accumulation on the surface of the corals. While measurements of damage to photosystem II in the symbionts and reductions in lipid content and growth indicated sub-lethal responses in surviving corals, the most reliable predictor of coral mortality in this experiment was long-term sediment accumulation on coral tissue.

  8. Gross and microscopic lesions in corals from Micronesia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Work, Thierry M.; Aeby, Greta S.; Hughen, Konrad A.

    2015-01-01

    The authors documented gross and microscopic morphology of lesions in corals on 7 islands spanning western, southern, and eastern Micronesia, sampling 76 colonies comprising 30 species of corals among 18 genera, with Acropora, Porites, and Montipora dominating. Tissue loss comprised the majority of gross lesions sampled (41%), followed by discoloration (30%) and growth anomaly (29%). Of 31 cases of tissue loss, most lesions were subacute (48%), followed by acute and chronic (26% each). Of 23 samples with discoloration, most were dark discoloration (40%), with bleaching and other discoloration each constituting 30%. Of 22 growth anomalies, umbonate growth anomalies composed half, with exophytic, nodular, and rugose growth anomalies composing the remainder. On histopathology, for 9 cases of dark discoloration, fungal infections predominated (77%); for 7 bleached corals, depletion of zooxanthellae from the gastrodermis made up a majority of microscopic diagnoses (57%); and for growth anomalies other than umbonate, hyperplasia of the basal body wall was the most common microscopic finding (63%). For the remainder of the gross lesions, no single microscopic finding constituted >50% of the total. Host response varied with the agent present on histology. Fragmentation of tissues was most often associated with algae (60%), whereas necrosis dominated (53%) for fungi. Two newly documented potentially symbiotic tissue-associated metazoans were seen in Porites and Montipora. Findings of multiple potential etiologies for a given gross lesion highlight the importance of incorporating histopathology in coral disease surveys. This study also expands the range of corals infected with cell-associated microbial aggregates.

  9. 50 CFR 226.216 - Critical habitat for elkhorn (Acropora palmata) and staghorn (A. cervicornis) corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-10-01

    ... MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE MARINE... macroalgae cover and sediment cover. (b) Critical Habitat Areas. Critical habitat includes one specific area...

  10. Nearshore Turbid-Zone Corals Exhibit High Bleaching Tolerance on the Great Barrier Reef Following the 2016 Ocean Warming Event

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Kyle M. Morgan

    2017-07-01

    Full Text Available High sea surface temperatures (SSTs on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR during summer 2015/2016 caused extensive coral bleaching, with aerial and in-water surveys confirming high (but variable bleaching-related coral mortality. In contrast, bleaching impacts on nearshore turbid-zone reefs, traditionally considered more “marginal” coral habitats, remain poorly documented. This is because rapid ecological surveys are difficult in these turbid water settings, and baseline coral community data from which to quantify disturbance are rare. However, models suggest that the extreme environmental conditions characteristic of nearshore settings (e.g., fluctuating turbidity, light, and temperature may acclimate corals to the thermal anomalies associated with bleaching on offshore reefs, although validation by field evidence has to-date been sparse. Here we present a novel pre- (June 2013/2014 and post-warming (August 2016 assessment of turbid-zone coral communities and examine the response of corals to prolonged and acute heat stress within the Paluma Shoals reef complex, located on the central GBR. Our analysis of 2,288 still video frames (~1,200 m2 which include 11,374 coral colonies (24 coral genera suggest a high tolerance of turbid-zone corals to bleaching, with no significant changes in coral cover (pre: 48 ± 20%; post: 55 ± 26% or coral community structure (e.g., Acropora, Montipora, Turbinaria, Porites following the warming event. Indeed, only one coral colony (Lobophyllia sp. exhibited full colony bleaching, and just 1.5% of colonies displayed partial pigmentation loss (<20% colony surface. Taxa-specific responses to this thermal stress event contrast with clear-water assessments, as Acropora corals which are normally reported as highly susceptible to bleaching on clear-water reefs were least impacted at Paluma Shoals, a phenomena that has been observed within other turbid settings. Importantly, field surveys confirm regional SSTs were

  11. Keeping It Local: Dispersal Limitations of Coral Larvae to the High Latitude Coral Reefs of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Kathryn L Markey

    Full Text Available In 2011 the first recorded bleaching event for the high latitude Houtman Abrolhos Islands (HAI coral communities was documented. This bleaching event highlighted the question of whether a supply of 'heat tolerant' coral recruits from the tropical north would be sufficient to provide a level of resistance for these reefs to future warming events. Using Lagrangian modelling we showed that due to its regional isolation, large-scale larval input from potential tropical northern source populations to the HAI is unlikely, despite the southward flowing Leeuwin current. Successful recruitment to artificial substrates was recorded following the bleaching event. However, this was negligible (0.4 ± 0.1 recruits per tile compared to 2013 post impact recruitment (128.8 ± 15.8 recruits per tile. Our data therefore provides preliminary evidence suggesting that the connectivity of the HAI with coral communities in the north is limited, and population maintenance and recovery is likely driven primarily by self-recruitment. Given the low thermal tolerance of the HAI coral communities, the dominance of Acropora, and the apparent reliance on self-recruitment, an increased frequency of thermally anomalous conditions at the HAI (such as experienced in 2011 has the potential to reduce the long-term stability of the HAI coral populations and species that depend upon them.

  12. Variability in the effects of macroalgae on the survival and growth of corals: the consumer connection.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bulleri, Fabio; Couraudon-Réale, Marine; Lison de Loma, Thierry; Claudet, Joachim

    2013-01-01

    Shifts in dominance from corals to macroalgae are occurring in many coral reefs worldwide. Macroalgal canopies, while competing for space with coral colonies, may also form a barrier to herbivorous and corallivorous fish, offering protection to corals. Thus, corals could either suffer from enhanced competition with canopy-forming and understorey macroalgae or benefit from predator exclusion. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the effects of the brown, canopy-forming macroalga, Turbinaria ornata, on the survival and growth of corals can vary according to its cover, to the presence or absence of herbivorous and corallivorous fish and to the morphological types of corals. Over a period of 66 days, two coral species differing in growth form, Acropora pulchra and Porites rus, were exposed to three different covers of T. ornata (absent versus medium versus high), in the presence or absence of fish. Irrespective of the cover of T. ornata, fish exclusion reduced mortality rates of A. pulchra. Following fish exclusion, a high cover of T. ornata depressed the growth of this branched coral, whilst it had no effect when fish species were present. P. rus suffered no damage from corallivorous fish, but its growth was decreased by high covers of T. ornata, irrespective of the presence or absence of fish. These results show that negative effects of T. ornata on some coral species are subordinate to those of fish predation and are, therefore, likely to manifest only on reefs severely depleted of predators. In contrast, space dominance by T. ornata may decrease the growth of other coral species regardless of predation intensity. In general, this study shows that susceptibility to predation may determine the severity of the effects of canopy-forming macroalgae on coral growth.

  13. Earliest direct evidence of monument building at the archaeological site of Nan Madol (Pohnpei, Micronesia) identified using 230Th/U coral dating and geochemical sourcing of megalithic architectural stone

    Science.gov (United States)

    McCoy, Mark D.; Alderson, Helen A.; Hemi, Richard; Cheng, Hai; Edwards, R. Lawrence

    2016-11-01

    Archaeologists commonly use the onset of the construction of large burial monuments as a material indicator of a fundamental shift in authority in prehistoric human societies during the Holocene. High- quality direct evidence of this transition is rare. We report new interdisciplinary research at the archaeological site of Nan Madol that allows us to specify where and when people began to construct monumental architecture in the remote islands of the Pacific. Nan Madol is an ancient administrative and mortuary center and the former capital of the island of Pohnpei. It was constructed over 83 ha of lagoon with artificial islets and other architecture built using columnar basalt and coral. We employed geochemical sourcing of basalt used as architectural stone and high-precision uranium-thorium series dates (230Th/U) on coral from the tomb of the first chief of the entire island to identify the beginning of monument building at Nan Madol in AD 1180-1200. Over the next several centuries (AD 1300-1600) monument building began on other islands across Oceania. Future research should be aimed at resolving the causes of these social transformations through higher quality data on monument building.

  14. Possible natural hybridization of two morphologically distinct species of Acropora (Cnidaria, Scleractinia in the Pacific: fertilization and larval survival rates.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Naoko Isomura

    Full Text Available Natural hybridization of corals in the Indo-Pacific has been considered rather rare. However, field studies have observed many corals with intermediate interspecific or unusual morphologies. Given that the existence of F1 hybrids with intermediate interspecific morphologies has been proven in the Caribbean, hybrids may also inhabit the Indo-Pacific and occur more frequently than expected. In this study, we focused on two morphologically different species, Acropora florida and A. intermedia, and performed crossing experiments at Akajima Island, Japan. Results showed that these species could hybridize in both directions via eggs and sperm, but that fertilization rates significantly differed according to which species provided eggs. These results are similar to those reported from the Caribbean. Although all embryos developed normally to the planular larval stage, the developmental processes of some hybrid embryos were delayed by approximately 1 h compared with conspecific embryos, suggesting that fertilization occurred 1 h later in interspecific crosses than in intraspecific crosses. More successful hybridization could occur under conditions with low numbers of conspecific colonies. Additionally, a comparison of survival rates between hybrid and intraspecific larvae revealed that intra- and interspecific larvae produced from eggs of A. florida survived for significantly longer than those produced from eggs of A. intermedia. Considering these data, under specific conditions, hybrids can be expected to be produced and survive in nature in the Pacific. Furthermore, we identified one colony with intermediate morphology between A. florida and A. intermedia in the field. This colony was fertilized only by eggs of A. florida, with high fertilization rates, suggesting that this colony would be a hybrid of these two species and might be backcrossed.

  15. Rapid Evolution of Coral Proteins Responsible for Interaction with the Environment

    Science.gov (United States)

    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

    Background 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. Methodology/Principal Findings 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. Conclusion/Relevance 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. PMID:21633702

  16. Spatial and seasonal reef calcification in corals and calcareous crusts in the central Red Sea

    KAUST Repository

    Roik, Anna Krystyna

    2015-12-14

    The existence of coral reef ecosystems critically relies on the reef carbonate framework produced by scleractinian corals and calcareous crusts (i.e., crustose coralline algae). While the Red Sea harbors one of the longest connected reef systems in the world, detailed calcification data are only available from the northernmost part. To fill this knowledge gap, we measured in situ calcification rates of primary and secondary reef builders in the central Red Sea. We collected data on the major habitat-forming coral genera Porites, Acropora, and Pocillopora and also on calcareous crusts (CC) in a spatio-seasonal framework. The scope of the study comprised sheltered and exposed sites of three reefs along a cross-shelf gradient and over four seasons of the year. Calcification of all coral genera was consistent across the shelf and highest in spring. In addition, Pocillopora showed increased calcification at exposed reef sites. In contrast, CC calcification increased from nearshore, sheltered to offshore, exposed reef sites, but also varied over seasons. Comparing our data to other reef locations, calcification in the Red Sea was in the range of data collected from reefs in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific; however, Acropora calcification estimates were at the lower end of worldwide rates. Our study shows that the increasing coral cover from nearshore to offshore environments aligned with CC calcification but not coral calcification, highlighting the potentially important role of CC in structuring reef cover and habitats. While coral calcification maxima have been typically observed during summer in many reef locations worldwide, calcification maxima during spring in the central Red Sea indicate that summer temperatures exceed the optima of reef calcifiers in this region. This study provides a foundation for comparative efforts and sets a baseline to quantify impact of future environmental change in the central Red Sea.

  17. Identification of Scleractinian Coral Recruits Using Fluorescent Censusing and DNA Barcoding Techniques

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hsu, Chia-Min; de Palmas, Stéphane; Kuo, Chao-Yang; Denis, Vianney; Chen, Chaolun Allen

    2014-01-01

    The identification of coral recruits has been problematic due to a lack of definitive morphological characters being available for higher taxonomic resolution. In this study, we tested whether fluorescent detection of coral recruits used in combinations of different DNA-barcoding markers (cytochrome oxidase I gene [COI], open reading frame [ORF], and nuclear Pax-C intron [PaxC]) could be useful for increasing the resolution of coral spat identification in ecological studies. One hundred and fifty settlement plates were emplaced at nine sites on the fringing reefs of Kenting National Park in southern Taiwan between April 2011 and September 2012. A total of 248 living coral spats and juveniles (with basal areas ranging from 0.21 to 134.57 mm2) were detected on the plates with the aid of fluorescent light and collected for molecular analyses. Using the COI DNA barcoding technique, 90.3% (224/248) of coral spats were successfully identified into six genera, including Acropora, Isopora, Montipora, Pocillopora, Porites, and Pavona. PaxC further separated I. cuneata and I. palifera of Isopora from Acropora, and ORF successfully identified the species of Pocillopora (except P. meandrina and P. eydouxi). Moreover, other cnidarian species such as actinarians, zoanthids, and Millepora species were visually found using fluorescence and identified by COI DNA barcoding. This combination of existing approaches greatly improved the taxonomic resolution of early coral life stages, which to date has been mainly limited to the family level based on skeletal identification. Overall, this study suggests important improvements for the identification of coral recruits in ecological studies. PMID:25211345

  18. Rapid Evolution of Coral Proteins Responsible for Interaction with the Environment

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    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, Monica

    2011-01-31

    Background: 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. Methodology/Principal Findings: 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. 7percent of the orthologs show elevated rates of evolution. Taxonomically-restricted (i.e. lineagespecific) 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. Conclusion/Relevance: 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.

  19. Rapid evolution of coral proteins responsible for interaction with the environment.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Christian R Voolstra

    Full Text Available BACKGROUND: 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. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: 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. CONCLUSION/RELEVANCE: 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.

  20. Bleaching and secondary threats on the corals of Palk Bay: A survey and Proactive conservation needs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Ravindran, J.; Kannapiran, E.; Manikandan, B.; ManiMurali, R.; Joseph, A.

    conditions. [Keywords: Bleaching, Coral, Sedimentation, SST, Solar irradiance, Stress, Palk Bay] Introduction Corals are the major reef building organisms maintaining the structure, function and stability of the reef ecosystems1. Despite this, corals... to the environmental stressors. Corals are visible bio indicators alarming the increasing Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) through bleaching in which the endosymbiotic zooxanthellae is expelled. A constant rise in the mean solar radiation and SST results in coral...

  1. Threatened Caribbean coral is able to mitigate the adverse effects of ocean acidification on calcification by increasing feeding rate.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Erica K Towle

    Full Text Available Global climate change threatens coral growth and reef ecosystem health via ocean warming and ocean acidification (OA. Whereas the negative impacts of these stressors are increasingly well-documented, studies identifying pathways to resilience are still poorly understood. Heterotrophy has been shown to help corals experiencing decreases in growth due to either thermal or OA stress; however, the mechanism by which it mitigates these decreases remains unclear. This study tested the ability of coral heterotrophy to mitigate reductions in growth due to climate change stress in the critically endangered Caribbean coral Acropora cervicornis via changes in feeding rate and lipid content. Corals were either fed or unfed and exposed to elevated temperature (30°C, enriched pCO2 (800 ppm, or both (30°C/800 ppm as compared to a control (26°C/390 ppm for 8 weeks. Feeding rate and lipid content both increased in corals experiencing OA vs. present-day conditions, and were significantly correlated. Fed corals were able to maintain ambient growth rates at both elevated temperature and elevated CO2, while unfed corals experienced significant decreases in growth with respect to fed conspecifics. Our results show for the first time that a threatened coral species can buffer OA-reduced calcification by increasing feeding rates and lipid content.

  2. Long-term impacts of coral bleaching events on the world's warmest reefs.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Burt, John; Al-Harthi, Suaad; Al-Cibahy, Ashraf

    2011-10-01

    The southern Arabian Gulf houses some of the most thermally tolerant corals on earth, but severe bleaching in the late 1990s caused widespread mortality. More than a decade later, corals still dominated benthos (mean: 40 ± 3% cover on 10 sites spanning > 350 km; range: 11.0-65.6%), but coral communities varied spatially. Sites to the west generally had low species richness and coral cover (mean: 3.2 species per transect, 31% cover), with Porites dominated communities (88% of coral) that are distinct from more diverse and higher cover eastern sites (mean: 10.3 species per transect, 62% cover). These patterns reflect both the more extreme bleaching to the west in the late 1990s as well as the higher faviid dominated recruitment to the east in subsequent years. There has been limited recovery of the formerly dominant Acropora, which now represents bleaching can have substantial long-term impacts on coral communities, even in areas with corals tolerant to environmental extremes. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  3. Differential Response of Coral Assemblages to Thermal Stress Underscores the Complexity in Predicting Bleaching Susceptibility.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chou, Loke Ming; Toh, Tai Chong; Toh, Kok Ben; Ng, Chin Soon Lionel; Cabaitan, Patrick; Tun, Karenne; Goh, Eugene; Afiq-Rosli, Lutfi; Taira, Daisuke; Du, Rosa Celia Poquita; Loke, Hai Xin; Khalis, Aizat; Li, Jinghan; Song, Tiancheng

    2016-01-01

    Coral bleaching events have been predicted to occur more frequently in the coming decades with global warming. The susceptibility of corals to bleaching during thermal stress episodes is dependent on many factors and an understanding of these underlying drivers is crucial for conservation management. In 2013, a mild bleaching episode ensued in response to elevated sea temperature on the sediment-burdened reefs in Singapore. Surveys of seven sites highlighted variable bleaching susceptibility among coral genera-Pachyseris and Podabacia were the most impacted (31% of colonies of both genera bleached). The most susceptible genera such as Acropora and Pocillopora, which were expected to bleach, did not. Susceptibility varied between less than 6% and more than 11% of the corals bleached, at four and three sites respectively. Analysis of four of the most bleached genera revealed that a statistical model that included a combination of the factors (genus, colony size and site) provided a better explanation of the observed bleaching patterns than any single factor alone. This underscored the complexity in predicting the coral susceptibility to future thermal stress events and the importance of monitoring coral bleaching episodes to facilitate more effective management of coral reefs under climate change.

  4. Differential Response of Coral Assemblages to Thermal Stress Underscores the Complexity in Predicting Bleaching Susceptibility.

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Loke Ming Chou

    Full Text Available Coral bleaching events have been predicted to occur more frequently in the coming decades with global warming. The susceptibility of corals to bleaching during thermal stress episodes is dependent on many factors and an understanding of these underlying drivers is crucial for conservation management. In 2013, a mild bleaching episode ensued in response to elevated sea temperature on the sediment-burdened reefs in Singapore. Surveys of seven sites highlighted variable bleaching susceptibility among coral genera-Pachyseris and Podabacia were the most impacted (31% of colonies of both genera bleached. The most susceptible genera such as Acropora and Pocillopora, which were expected to bleach, did not. Susceptibility varied between less than 6% and more than 11% of the corals bleached, at four and three sites respectively. Analysis of four of the most bleached genera revealed that a statistical model that included a combination of the factors (genus, colony size and site provided a better explanation of the observed bleaching patterns than any single factor alone. This underscored the complexity in predicting the coral susceptibility to future thermal stress events and the importance of monitoring coral bleaching episodes to facilitate more effective management of coral reefs under climate change.

  5. Assessing threats from coral and crustose coralline algae disease on the reefs of New Caledonia

    Science.gov (United States)

    Aeby, Greta S.; Tribollet, Aline; Lasne, Gregory; Work, Thierry M.

    2015-01-01

    The present study reports the results of the first quantitative survey of lesions on coral and crustose coralline algae (CCA) on reefs in the lagoon of New Caledonia. Surveys on inshore and offshore reefs were conducted at 13 sites in 2010, with 12 sites resurveyed in 2013. Thirty coral diseases affecting 15 coral genera were found, with low overall disease prevalence (<1%). This study extends the known distribution of growth anomalies to the coral genera Platygyraand Hydnophora, endolithic hypermycosis to Platygyra, Leptoria and Goniastrea and extends the geographic range of three CCA diseases. We found the first trematode infection in Porites outside of Hawaii. Disease prevalence differed among coral genera, with Porites having more lesions, and Acropora and Montipora fewer lesions, than expected on the basis of field abundance. Inshore reefs had a lower coral-colony density, species diversity and reduced CCA cover than did the offshore reefs. Disease prevalence was significantly higher on inshore reefs in 2013 than in 2010, but did not change on offshore reefs. The potential ecological impact of individual coral diseases was assessed using an integrative-scoring and relative-ranking scheme based on average frequency of occurrence, prevalence and estimated degree of virulence. The top-five ranked diseases were all tissue-loss diseases.

  6. Community Structure Of Coral Reefs In Saebus Island, Sumenep District, East Java

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rizmaadi, Mada; Riter, Johannes; Fatimah, Siti; Rifaldi, Riyan; Yoga, Arditho; Ramadhan, Fikri; Ambariyanto, Ambariyanto

    2018-02-01

    Increasing degradation coral reefs ecosystem has created many concerns. Reduction of this damage can only be done with good and proper management of coral reef ecosystem based on existing condition. The condition of coral reef ecosystem can be determined by assessing its community structure. This study investigates community structure of coral reef ecosystems around Saebus Island, Sumenep District, East Java, by using satellite imagery analysis and field observations. Satellite imagery analysis by Lyzenga methods was used to determine the observation stations and substrate distribution. Field observations were done by using Line Intercept Transect method at 4 stations, at the depth of 3 and 10 meters. The results showed that the percentage of coral reef coverage at the depth of 3 and 10 meters were 64.36% and 59.29%, respectively, and included in fine coverage category. This study found in total 25 genera from 13 families of corals at all stations. The most common species found were Acropora, Porites, and Pocillopora, while the least common species were Favites and Montastrea. Average value of Diversity, Uniformity and Dominancy indices were 2.94, 0.8 and 0.18 which include as medium, high, and low category, respectively. These results suggest that coral reef ecosystems around Saebus Island is in a good condition.

  7. How does the proliferation of the coral-killing sponge Terpios hoshinota affect benthic community structure on coral reefs?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Elliott, Jennifer; Patterson, Mark; Summers, Natalie; Miternique, Céline; Montocchio, Emma; Vitry, Eugene

    2016-09-01

    Terpios hoshinota is an encrusting sponge and a fierce space competitor. It kills stony corals by overgrowing them and can impact reefs on the square kilometer scale. We investigated an outbreak of T. hoshinota in 2014 at the island of Mauritius to determine its impacts on coral community structure. Surveys were conducted at the putative outbreak center, an adjacent area, and around the island to determine the extent of spread of the sponge and which organisms it impacted. In addition, quadrats were monitored for 5 months (July-December) to measure the spreading rates of T. hoshinota and Acropora austera in areas both with and without T. hoshinota. The photosynthetic capabilities of T. hoshinota and A. austera were also measured. Terpios hoshinota was well established, covering 13% of an estimated 416 m2 of available hard coral substrate at the putative outbreak center, and 10% of an estimated 588 m2 of available hard coral substrate at the adjacent area. The sponge was observed at only one other site around Mauritius. Terpios hoshinota and A. austera increased their planar areas by 26.9 and 13.9%, respectively, over five months. No new colonies of T. hoshinota were recorded in adjacent sponge-free control areas, suggesting that sponge recruitment is very low during austral winter and spring. The sponge was observed to overgrow five stony corals; however, it showed a preference for branching corals, especially A. austera. This is the first time that a statistically significant coral substrate preference by T. hoshinota has been reported. Terpios hoshinota also had a significantly higher photosynthetic capacity than A. austera at irradiance >500 μmol photons m-2 s-1, a possible explanation for its high spreading rate. We discuss the long-term implications of the proliferation of T. hoshinota on community structure and dynamics of our study site.

  8. Calcification continues in Caribbean reef-building corals at high pCO2 levels in a recirculating ocean acidification exposure system

    Science.gov (United States)

    Projected increases in ocean pCO2 levels are anticipated to affect calcifying organisms more rapidly and to a greater extent than other marine organisms. The effects of ocean acidification (OA) have been documented in numerous species of corals in laboratory studies, largely test...

  9. Historical insights on growth rates of the reef-building corals Pavona gigantea and Porites panamensis from the Northeastern tropical Pacific.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tortolero-Langarica, J J A; Carricart-Ganivet, J P; Cupul-Magaña, A L; Rodríguez-Troncoso, A P

    2017-12-01

    Historical coral growth assessed by sclerochronology records provides an environmental retrospective and future perspective on the maintenance of coral-reef ecosystems. Three growth parameters, extension rate, skeletal density, and calcification rate were evaluated over the past two decade's interval (1988-2013) in different gender of two massive corals Pavona gigantea and Porites panamensis. The species P. gigantea calcified two-times faster (0.84 ± 0.29 g cm -2 yr -1 ) than P. panamensis (0.36 ± 0.15 g cm -2 yr -1 ); and male colonies presents13-58% higher calcification rates than females. Annual growth parameters do not show significant trends over the period 1988-2013, but significant, growth disruption associated with ENSO events. The data presented here suggest that P.gigantea and P.panamensis from the area have developed phenotypic plasticity to a wide range of environmental condition; the life history of both species is reflected in their calcification rates during both optimal and non-optimal conditions over the last two decades. Massive species develop denser structures that provide a permanent habitat to many marine species and contributes to the long-term maintenance of coral reef communities in the eastern tropical Pacific. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  10. Calcification rates of the Caribbean reef-building coral Siderastrea siderea adversely affected by both seawater warming and CO2-induced ocean acidification

    Science.gov (United States)

    Horvath, K. M.; Connolly, B. D.; Westfield, I. T.; Chow, E.; Castillo, K. D.; Ries, J. B.

    2013-05-01

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that atmospheric pCO2 will increase to ca. 550-950 ppm by the end of the century, primarily due to the anthropogenic combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation, and cement production. This is predicted to cause SST to increase by 1-3 °C and seawater pH to decrease by 0.1-0.3 units. Laboratory studies have shown that warming depresses calcification rates of scleractinian corals and that acidification yields mixed effects on coral calcification. With both warming and ocean acidification predicted for the next century, we must constrain the interactive effects of these two CO2-induced stressors on scleractinian coral calcification. Here, we present the results of experiments designed to assess the response of the scleractinian coral Siderastrea siderea to both ocean warming and acidification. Coral fragments (12/tank) were reared for 60 days under three temperatures (25.1± 0.02 °C, 28.0± 0.02 °C, 31.8± 0.02 °C) at near modern pCO2 (436 ± 7) and near the highest IPCC estimate for atmospheric pCO2 for the year 2100 AD (883 ± 16). Each temperature and pCO2 treatment was executed in triplicate and contained similarly sized S. Siderea fragments obtained from the same suite of coral colonies equitably distributed amongst the nearshore, backreef, and forereef zones of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System off the coast of southern Belize. Individual coral fragments were hand fed Artemia sp. to satiation twice weekly. Weekly seawater samples (250 ml) were collected and analyzed for dissolved inorganic carbon via coulometry and total alkalinity via closed-cell potentiometric titration. Seawater pCO2, pH, carbonate ion concentration, bicarbonate ion concentration, aqueous CO2, and aragonite saturation state (ΩA) were calculated with the program CO2SYS. Under near-modern atmospheric pCO2 of ca. 436 ± 7 ppm, seawater warming from 25 to 28 to 32°C caused coral calcification rates (estimated from change in

  11. CORAL REEFS. Genomic determinants of coral heat tolerance across latitudes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dixon, Groves B; Davies, Sarah W; Aglyamova, Galina A; Meyer, Eli; Bay, Line K; Matz, Mikhail V

    2015-06-26

    As global warming continues, reef-building corals could avoid local population declines through "genetic rescue" involving exchange of heat-tolerant genotypes across latitudes, but only if latitudinal variation in thermal tolerance is heritable. Here, we show an up-to-10-fold increase in odds of survival of coral larvae under heat stress when their parents come from a warmer lower-latitude location. Elevated thermal tolerance was associated with heritable differences in expression of oxidative, extracellular, transport, and mitochondrial functions that indicated a lack of prior stress. Moreover, two genomic regions strongly responded to selection for thermal tolerance in interlatitudinal crosses. These results demonstrate that variation in coral thermal tolerance across latitudes has a strong genetic basis and could serve as raw material for natural selection. Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

  12. Coral reef ecosystem

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Wafar, M.V.M.; Wafar, S.

    is unparalleled by any other marine ecosystem. More than 2,200 fishes are known allover the world reefs (Sale 1980), ofwhich several hundreds may orcur at any time in a single reef (Sale et al. 1994). So is the order ofsome other invertebrate groups: corals (800... skeleton. in bone transplants). Capacity Building in Intellectual Property Rights (/PR) Technological benefits from the use of hiodiversity can be in lhe order of millions of dollars. For example, sale ofTaq D!'IA polymerase, produced from thennophi)ic...

  13. Exploring coral microbiome assemblages in the South China Sea.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cai, Lin; Tian, Ren-Mao; Zhou, Guowei; Tong, Haoya; Wong, Yue Him; Zhang, Weipeng; Chui, Apple Pui Yi; Xie, James Y; Qiu, Jian-Wen; Ang, Put O; Liu, Sheng; Huang, Hui; Qian, Pei-Yuan

    2018-02-05

    Coral reefs are significant ecosystems. The ecological success of coral reefs relies on not only coral-algal symbiosis but also coral-microbial partnership. However, microbiome assemblages in the South China Sea corals remain largely unexplored. Here, we compared the microbiome assemblages of reef-building corals Galaxea (G. fascicularis) and Montipora (M. venosa, M. peltiformis, M. monasteriata) collected from five different locations in the South China Sea using massively-parallel sequencing of 16S rRNA gene and multivariate analysis. The results indicated that microbiome assemblages for each coral species were unique regardless of location and were different from the corresponding seawater. Host type appeared to drive the coral microbiome assemblages rather than location and seawater. Network analysis was employed to explore coral microbiome co-occurrence patterns, which revealed 61 and 80 co-occurring microbial species assembling the Galaxea and Montipora microbiomes, respectively. Most of these co-occurring microbial species were commonly found in corals and were inferred to play potential roles in host nutrient metabolism; carbon, nitrogen, sulfur cycles; host detoxification; and climate change. These findings suggest that the co-occurring microbial species explored might be essential to maintain the critical coral-microbial partnership. The present study provides new insights into coral microbiome assemblages in the South China Sea.

  14. Distinguishing between Microbial Habitats Unravels Ecological Complexity in Coral Microbiomes.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Apprill, Amy; Weber, Laura G; Santoro, Alyson E

    2016-01-01

    The diverse prokaryotic communities associated with reef-building corals may provide important ecological advantages to their threatened hosts. The consistency of relationships between corals and specific prokaryotes, however, is debated, and the locations where microbially mediated processes occur in the host are not resolved. Here, we examined how the prokaryotic associates of five common Caribbean corals with different evolutionary and ecological traits differ across mucus and tissue habitats. We used physical and chemical separation of coral mucus and tissue and sequencing of partial small-subunit rRNA genes of bacteria and archaea from these samples to demonstrate that coral tissue and mucus harbor unique reservoirs of prokaryotes, with 23 to 49% and 31 to 56% of sequences exclusive to the tissue and mucus habitats, respectively. Across all coral species, we found that 46 tissue- and 22 mucus-specific microbial members consistently associated with the different habitats. Sequences classifying as "Candidatus Amoebophilus," Bacteroidetes-affiliated intracellular symbionts of amoebae, emerged as previously unrecognized tissue associates of three coral species. This study demonstrates how coral habitat differentiation enables highly resolved examination of ecological interactions between corals and their associated microorganisms and identifies previously unrecognized tissue and mucus associates of Caribbean corals for future targeted study. IMPORTANCE This study demonstrates that coral tissue or mucus habitats structure the microbiome of corals and that separation of these habitats facilitates identification of consistent microbial associates. Using this approach, we demonstrated that sequences related to "Candidatus Amoebophilus," recognized intracellular symbionts of amoebae, were highly associated with the tissues of Caribbean corals and possibly endosymbionts of a protistan host within corals, adding a further degree of intricacy to coral holobiont symbioses

  15. A PCR-Based Assay Targeting the Major Capsid Protein Gene of a Dinorna-Like ssRNA Virus That Infects Coral Photosymbionts

    OpenAIRE

    Jose Montalvo-Proaño; Patrick Buerger; Karen D. Weynberg; Madeleine J H van Oppen

    2017-01-01

    The coral-Symbiodinium association is a critical component of coral reefs as it is the main primary producer and builds the reef's 3-dimensional structure. A breakdown of this endosymbiosis causes a loss of the dinoflagellate photosymbiont, Symbiodinium, and/or its photosynthetic pigments from the coral tissues (i.e., coral bleaching), and can lead to coral mortality. Coral bleaching has mostly been attributed to environmental stressors, and in some cases to bacterial infection. Viral lysis o...

  16. Evidence of photosymbiosis in Palaeozoic tabulate corals.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zapalski, Mikolaj K

    2014-01-22

    Coral reefs form the most diverse of all marine ecosystems on the Earth. Corals are among their main components and owe their bioconstructing abilities to a symbiosis with algae (Symbiodinium). The coral-algae symbiosis had been traced back to the Triassic (ca 240 Ma). Modern reef-building corals (Scleractinia) appeared after the Permian-Triassic crisis; in the Palaeozoic, some of the main reef constructors were extinct tabulate corals. The calcium carbonate secreted by extant photosymbiotic corals bears characteristic isotope (C and O) signatures. The analysis of tabulate corals belonging to four orders (Favositida, Heliolitida, Syringoporida and Auloporida) from Silurian to Permian strata of Europe and Africa shows these characteristic carbon and oxygen stable isotope signatures. The δ(18)O to δ(13)C ratios in recent photosymbiotic scleractinians are very similar to those of Palaeozoic tabulates, thus providing strong evidence of such symbioses as early as the Middle Silurian (ca 430 Ma). Corals in Palaeozoic reefs used the same cellular mechanisms for carbonate secretion as recent reefs, and thus contributed to reef formation.

  17. Coral-associated viral communities show high levels of diversity and host auxiliary functions

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Karen D. Weynberg

    2017-11-01

    Full Text Available Stony corals (Scleractinia are marine invertebrates that form the foundation and framework upon which tropical reefs are built. The coral animal associates with a diverse microbiome comprised of dinoflagellate algae and other protists, bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses. Using a metagenomics approach, we analysed the DNA and RNA viral assemblages of seven coral species from the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR, demonstrating that tailed bacteriophages of the Caudovirales dominate across all species examined, and ssDNA viruses, notably the Microviridae, are also prevalent. Most sequences with matches to eukaryotic viruses were assigned to six viral families, including four Nucleocytoplasmic Large DNA Viruses (NCLDVs families: Iridoviridae, Phycodnaviridae, Mimiviridae, and Poxviridae, as well as Retroviridae and Polydnaviridae. Contrary to previous findings, Herpesvirales were rare in these GBR corals. Sequences of a ssRNA virus with similarities to the dinornavirus, Heterocapsa circularisquama ssRNA virus of the Alvernaviridae that infects free-living dinoflagellates, were observed in three coral species. We also detected viruses previously undescribed from the coral holobiont, including a virus that targets fungi associated with the coral species Acropora tenuis. Functional analysis of the assembled contigs indicated a high prevalence of latency-associated genes in the coral-associated viral assemblages, several host-derived auxiliary metabolic genes (AMGs for photosynthesis (psbA, psbD genes encoding the photosystem II D1 and D2 proteins respectively, as well as potential nematocyst toxins and antioxidants (genes encoding green fluorescent-like chromoprotein. This study expands the currently limited knowledge on coral-associated viruses by characterising viral composition and function across seven GBR coral species.

  18. Coral-associated viral communities show high levels of diversity and host auxiliary functions.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Weynberg, Karen D; Laffy, Patrick W; Wood-Charlson, Elisha M; Turaev, Dmitrij; Rattei, Thomas; Webster, Nicole S; van Oppen, Madeleine J H

    2017-01-01

    Stony corals (Scleractinia) are marine invertebrates that form the foundation and framework upon which tropical reefs are built. The coral animal associates with a diverse microbiome comprised of dinoflagellate algae and other protists, bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses. Using a metagenomics approach, we analysed the DNA and RNA viral assemblages of seven coral species from the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR), demonstrating that tailed bacteriophages of the Caudovirales dominate across all species examined, and ssDNA viruses, notably the Microviridae, are also prevalent. Most sequences with matches to eukaryotic viruses were assigned to six viral families, including four Nucleocytoplasmic Large DNA Viruses (NCLDVs) families: Iridoviridae, Phycodnaviridae, Mimiviridae, and Poxviridae, as well as Retroviridae and Polydnaviridae. Contrary to previous findings, Herpesvirales were rare in these GBR corals. Sequences of a ssRNA virus with similarities to the dinornavirus, Heterocapsa circularisquama ssRNA virus of the Alvernaviridae that infects free-living dinoflagellates, were observed in three coral species. We also detected viruses previously undescribed from the coral holobiont, including a virus that targets fungi associated with the coral species Acropora tenuis. Functional analysis of the assembled contigs indicated a high prevalence of latency-associated genes in the coral-associated viral assemblages, several host-derived auxiliary metabolic genes (AMGs) for photosynthesis (psbA, psbD genes encoding the photosystem II D1 and D2 proteins respectively), as well as potential nematocyst toxins and antioxidants (genes encoding green fluorescent-like chromoprotein). This study expands the currently limited knowledge on coral-associated viruses by characterising viral composition and function across seven GBR coral species.

  19. Biology of corals and coral reefs

    Digital Repository Service at National Institute of Oceanography (India)

    Rajkumar, R.; Parulekar, A.H.

    on the systematic position is presented. The general structure is depicted with illustrations. Physiology part is updated to current knowledge on reproduction, nutrition and excretion of corals. The coral reefs section begins with status of world reefs...

  20. Palaeoecological evidence of a historical collapse of corals at Pelorus Island, inshore Great Barrier Reef, following European settlement

    Science.gov (United States)

    Roff, George; Clark, Tara R.; Reymond, Claire E.; Zhao, Jian-xin; Feng, Yuexing; McCook, Laurence J.; Done, Terence J.; Pandolfi, John M.

    2013-01-01

    The inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have undergone significant declines in water quality following European settlement (approx. 1870 AD). However, direct evidence of impacts on coral assemblages is limited by a lack of historical baselines prior to the onset of modern monitoring programmes in the early 1980s. Through palaeoecological reconstructions, we report a previously undocumented historical collapse of Acropora assemblages at Pelorus Island (central GBR). High-precision U-series dating of dead Acropora fragments indicates that this collapse occurred between 1920 and 1955, with few dates obtained after 1980. Prior to this event, our results indicate remarkable long-term stability in coral community structure over centennial scales. We suggest that chronic increases in sediment flux and nutrient loading following European settlement acted as the ultimate cause for the lack of recovery of Acropora assemblages following a series of acute disturbance events (SST anomalies, cyclones and flood events). Evidence for major degradation in reef condition owing to human impacts prior to modern ecological surveys indicates that current monitoring of inshore reefs on the GBR may be predicated on a significantly shifted baseline. PMID:23135672

  1. Comparative analyses of coding and noncoding DNA regions indicate that Acropora (Anthozoa: Scleractina) possesses a similar evolutionary tempo of nuclear vs. mitochondrial genomes as in plants.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chen, I-Ping; Tang, Chung-Yu; Chiou, Chih-Yung; Hsu, Jia-Ho; Wei, Nuwei Vivian; Wallace, Carden C; Muir, Paul; Wu, Henry; Chen, Chaolun Allen

    2009-01-01

    Evidence suggests that the mitochondrial (mt)DNA of anthozoans is evolving at a slower tempo than their nuclear DNA; however, parallel surveys of nuclear and mitochondrial variations and calibrated rates of both synonymous and nonsynonymous substitutions across taxa are needed in order to support this scenario. We examined species of the scleractinian coral genus Acropora, including previously unstudied species, for molecular variations in protein-coding genes and noncoding regions of both nuclear and mt genomes. DNA sequences of a calmodulin (CaM)-encoding gene region containing three exons, two introns and a 411-bp mt intergenic spacer (IGS) spanning the cytochrome b (cytb) and NADH 2 genes, were obtained from 49 Acropora species. The molecular evolutionary rates of coding and noncoding regions in nuclear and mt genomes were compared in conjunction with published data, including mt cytochrome b, the control region, and nuclear Pax-C introns. Direct sequencing of the mtIGS revealed an average interspecific variation comparable to that seen in published data for mt cytb. The average interspecific variation of the nuclear genome was two to five times greater than that of the mt genome. Based on the calibration of the closure of Panama Isthmus (3.0 mya) and closure of the Tethy Seaway (12 mya), synonymous substitution rates ranged from 0.367% to 1.467% Ma(-1) for nuclear CaM, which is about 4.8 times faster than those of mt cytb (0.076-0.303% Ma(-1)). This is similar to the findings in plant genomes that the nuclear genome is evolving at least five times faster than those of mitochondrial counterparts.

  2. Circadian clocks in symbiotic corals: the duet between Symbiodinium algae and their coral host.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sorek, Michal; Díaz-Almeyda, Erika M; Medina, Mónica; Levy, Oren

    2014-04-01

    To date, the association and synchronization between two organismal circadian clocks ticking in parallel as part of a meta-organism (termed a symbiotic association), have rarely been investigated. Reef-building corals exhibit complex rhythmic responses to diurnal, lunar, and annual changes. Understanding circadian, circatidal, and annual regulation in reef-building corals is complicated by the presence of photosynthetic endosymbionts, which have a profound physiochemical influence on the intracellular environment. How corals tune their animal-based clock machinery to respond to external cues while simultaneously responding to internal physiological changes imposed by the symbiont, is not clear. There is insufficient molecular or physiological evidence of the existence of a circadian pacemaker that controls the metabolism, photosynthesis, synchronized mass spawning, and calcification processes in symbiotic corals