Photoinhibition of Symbiodinium spp. within the reef corals Montastraea faveolata and Porites astreoides: implications for coral bleaching

Sebastian J. Hennige, Michael P. McGinley, Andrea G. Grottoli, Mark E. Warner

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    Abstract

    It is speculated that differences in coral bleaching susceptibility may be influenced by the genotype of in hospite Symbiodinium and their differential responses to bleaching stressors. Photoinhibition of photosystem II (PSII), damage to the D1 (psbA) PSII reaction centre protein and production of reactive oxygen species by in hospite Symbiodinium are likely precursors of coral bleaching. In order to assess whether photorepair rates of in hospite Symbiodinium underlie the bleaching susceptibility of their hosts, photoinhibition (net and gross), photoprotection and photorepair rates were assessed in a bleaching-'tolerant' coral (P. astreoides) and a bleaching-'sensitive' coral (M. faveolata) using non-invasive fluorometric techniques and by blocking de novo synthesis of psbA. Previous studies using such techniques have demonstrated that in vitro Symbiodinium types 'sensitive' to bleaching stressors had reduced rates of photorepair relative to 'tolerant' Symbiodinum types. Our measurements demonstrated that Symbiodinium in the more bleaching tolerant P. astreoides had higher photorepair rates than Symbiodinium in M. faveolata. Higher repair rates in P. astreoides resulted in lower net photoinhibition relative to M. faveolata, where both corals exhibited similar susceptibility to photodamage (gross photoinhibition). Photoprotective mechanisms were observed in both corals; M. faveolata exhibited higher antennae-bed quenching than P. astreoides at low-light intensities, but at and above light-saturating intensities, which are different for each coral species, P. astreoides displayed more efficient non-photochemical quenching (Stern-Volmer quenching) of chlorophyll fluorescence than M. faveolata. Increased NPQ by P. astreoides at E/E (k) a parts per thousand yen 1 was not driven by antennae-bed quenching. The ability of in hospite Symbiodinium in P. astreoides to mitigate the effects of photoinhibition under high light conditions compared with Symbiodinium in M. faveolata, and their high repair capacity following photoinhibition, may be a key factor to consider in future bleaching studies and may underlie the relative bleaching tolerance of P. astreoides compared to M. faveolata.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2515-2526
    Number of pages12
    JournalMarine Biology
    Volume158
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

    Keywords

    • FAST REPETITION RATE
    • THERMAL-STRESS
    • COMMUNITY STRUCTURE
    • CARIBBEAN CORAL
    • CHLOROPHYLL FLUORESCENCE
    • GREAT-BARRIER-REEF
    • OXIDATIVE STRESS
    • PHOTOSYSTEM-II
    • ELECTRON-TRANSPORT
    • ELEVATED-TEMPERATURES

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