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      Effects of cold stress and heat stress on coral fluorescence in reef-building corals

      a , 1 , 2 , 1

      Scientific Reports

      Nature Publishing Group

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          Abstract

          Widespread temperature stress has caused catastrophic coral bleaching events that have been devastating for coral reefs. Here, we evaluate whether coral fluorescence could be utilized as a noninvasive assessment for coral health. We conducted cold and heat stress treatments on the branching coral Acropora yongei, and found that green fluorescent protein (GFP) concentration and fluorescence decreased with declining coral health, prior to initiation of bleaching. Ultimately, cold-treated corals acclimated and GFP concentration and fluorescence recovered. In contrast, heat-treated corals eventually bleached but showed strong fluorescence despite reduced GFP concentration, likely resulting from the large reduction in shading from decreased dinoflagellate density. Consequently, GFP concentration and fluorescence showed distinct correlations in non-bleached and bleached corals. Green fluorescence was positively correlated with dinoflagellate photobiology, but its closest correlation was with coral growth suggesting that green fluorescence could be used as a physiological proxy for health in some corals.

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          Most cited references 37

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          The green fluorescent protein.

          In just three years, the green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria has vaulted from obscurity to become one of the most widely studied and exploited proteins in biochemistry and cell biology. Its amazing ability to generate a highly visible, efficiently emitting internal fluorophore is both intrinsically fascinating and tremendously valuable. High-resolution crystal structures of GFP offer unprecedented opportunities to understand and manipulate the relation between protein structure and spectroscopic function. GFP has become well established as a marker of gene expression and protein targeting in intact cells and organisms. Mutagenesis and engineering of GFP into chimeric proteins are opening new vistas in physiological indicators, biosensors, and photochemical memories.
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            Ocean acidification causes bleaching and productivity loss in coral reef builders.

            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.
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              Living in the now: physiological mechanisms to tolerate a rapidly changing environment.

              Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide has resulted in scientific projections of changes in global temperatures, climate in general, and surface seawater chemistry. Although the consequences to ecosystems and communities of metazoans are only beginning to be revealed, a key to forecasting expected changes in animal communities is an understanding of species' vulnerability to a changing environment. For example, environmental stressors may affect a particular species by driving that organism outside a tolerance window, by altering the costs of metabolic processes under the new conditions, or by changing patterns of development and reproduction. Implicit in all these examples is the foundational understanding of physiological mechanisms and how a particular environmental driver (e.g., temperature and ocean acidification) will be transduced through the animal to alter tolerances and performance. In this review, we highlight examples of mechanisms, focusing on those underlying physiological plasticity, that operate in contemporary organisms as a means to consider physiological responses that are available to organisms in the future.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group
                2045-2322
                12 March 2013
                2013
                : 3
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego , La Jolla, CA 92093-0202, USA
                [2 ]Current address: Physical Biosciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA and Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3102, USA.
                Author notes
                Article
                srep01421
                10.1038/srep01421
                3594756
                23478289
                Copyright © 2013, Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

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