Kneeland Jessie M.

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Jessie M.

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  • Preprint
    Lipid biomarkers in Symbiodinium dinoflagellates : new indicators of thermal stress
    ( 2013-06-13) Kneeland, Jessie M. ; Hughen, Konrad A. ; Cervino, James M. ; Hauff, B. ; Eglinton, Timothy I.
    Lipid content and fatty acid profiles of corals and their dinoflagellate endosymbionts are known to vary in response to high temperature stress. To better understand the heat stress response in these symbionts, we investigated cultures of Symbiodinium goreauii type C1 and Symbiodinium clade subtype D1 grown under a range of temperatures and durations. The predominant lipids produced by Symbiodinium are palmitic (C16) and stearic (C18) saturated fatty acids and their unsaturated analogs, docosahexaenoic (C22:6, n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), and a variety of sterols. The relative amount of unsaturated acids within the C18 fatty acids in Symbiodinium tissue decreases in response to thermal stress. Prolonged exposure to high temperature also causes a decrease in abundance of fatty acids relative to sterols. These shifts in fatty acids and sterols are common to both types C1 and D1, but the apparent thermal threshold of lipid changes is lower for type C1. This work indicates that ratios among free fatty acids and sterols in Symbiodinium can be used as sensitive indicators of thermal stress. If the Symbdionium lipid stress response is unchanged in hospite, the algal heat stress biomarkers we have identified could be measured to detect thermal stress within the coral holobiont.. These results provide new insights into the potential role of lipids in the overall Symbiodinium thermal stress response.
  • Thesis
    Lipid biomarkers of coral stress : calibration and exploration
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2011-06) Kneeland, Jessie M.
    Corals are increasingly threatened by warming sea surface temperatures and other anthropogenic changes. The delicate symbiosis between corals and their algal endosymbionts (zooxanthellae) is easily disrupted by thermal stress, leading to bleaching and eventual mortality. The use of lipid ratios as biomarkers of environmental conditions is well established. Coral biomass contains abundant lipids, and the potential of lipid parameters to diagnose thermal tolerance in zooxanthellae has been previously suggested. In this thesis, I explore the response of specific fatty acids, sterols, and thylakoid membrane lipids to thermal and disease stress in zooxanthellae grown in culture, as well as those isolated from living corals. I present the discovery of a bioactive thylakoid lipid within zooxanthellae cells, and show how this compound is selectively mobilized in thermally stressed cells. I present a plausible mechanism for the breakdown of this compound into products that may cause apoptosis and disrupt the coral-­‐algal symbiosis, eventually causing bleaching. I present two new lipid biomarkers of thermal stress in zooxanthellae, the C18 fatty acid unsaturation ratio, and the fatty acid to sterol ratio. I calibrate the decline of these two parameters to levels of thermal stress comparable to those needed to cause bleaching. I further show that these parameters are sensitive to pathogen stress as well. In several case studies of diseased and thermally stressed corals, I demonstrate that these lipid biomarkers of coral stress may be applied to zooxanthellae isolated from environmental samples. I show that these same compounds are preserved within coral aragonite, which opens up the potential to retrieve lipid-­‐based historical records of coral health from annual layers of coral skeleton. This work demonstrates the value of using lipid biomarkers to assess coral health and better understand the biochemical mechanisms of coral bleaching.