Species-specific control of external superoxide levels by the coral holobiont during a natural bleaching event
Diaz, Julia M.
Hansel, Colleen M.
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The reactive oxygen species superoxide (O2·−) is both beneficial and detrimental to life. Within corals, superoxide may contribute to pathogen resistance but also bleaching, the loss of essential algal symbionts. Yet, the role of superoxide in coral health and physiology is not completely understood owing to a lack of direct in situ observations. By conducting field measurements of superoxide produced by corals during a bleaching event, we show substantial species-specific variation in external superoxide levels, which reflect the balance of production and degradation processes. Extracellular superoxide concentrations are independent of light, algal symbiont abundance and bleaching status, but depend on coral species and bacterial community composition. Furthermore, coral-derived superoxide concentrations ranged from levels below bulk seawater up to ∼120 nM, some of the highest superoxide concentrations observed in marine systems. Overall, these results unveil the ability of corals and/or their microbiomes to regulate superoxide in their immediate surroundings, which suggests species-specific roles of superoxide in coral health and physiology.
© The Author(s), 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Nature Communications 7 (2016): 13801, doi:10.1038/ncomms13801.
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