Acquisition and assimilation of carbon in non-bleached and bleached corals

Adam Hughes, Andrea Grottoli, Tamara Pease, Yohei Matsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Reef-forming corals cycle carbon (C) between the coral host, their endosymbiotic algae, and their skeleton. At elevated sea-surface temperatures this relationship breaks down and the corals bleach by expelling their endosymbiotic algae or these algae lose their photosynthetic pigments. The effect of thermally induced bleaching on the C cycling of 2 ecologically important coral species was investigated. The acquisition and assimilation of photoautotrophically and heterotrophically acquired C was examined via pulse-chase labeling experiments in thermally bleached and non-bleached Montipora capitata and Porites compressa corals. In non-bleached corals photoautotrophic and heterotrophic C were acquired and assimilated very differently. Namely, photoautotrophically acquired C was used to meet short-term metabolic demands and calcification, whereas heterotrophically acquired C was retained in both the coral host and endosymbiotic algae. In bleached corals there was a dramatic reduction in the assimilation of photoautotrophically acquired C by the endosymbiotic algae, in the translocation of C from the algae to the coral host, and in the C assimilated in the skeleton. The level of heterotrophically acquired C assimilated into bleached corals was similar to that in non-bleached corals, and was a direct source of organic C to the endosymbiotic algae. This host-to-endosymbiotic algal supply of heterotrophic C may stimulate endosymbiotic algal recovery. These findings show the importance of both photoautotrophic and heterotrophic C to coral function and demonstrate that both play a crucial role in the recovery from bleaching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-101
Number of pages11
JournalMAR ECOL-PROG SER
Volume420
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • STABLE-ISOTOPE COMPOSITION
  • Marine & Freshwater Biology
  • ENDOSYMBIOTIC ZOOXANTHELLAE
  • ORGANIC-MATTER
  • CALCIFICATION
  • Oceanography
  • ACROPORA-PULCHRA
  • STYLOPHORA-PISTILLATA
  • REEF CORALS
  • Ecology
  • PHOTOSYNTHESIS
  • NITROGEN
  • SYMBIOTIC SEA-ANEMONE

Cite this