Uncovering the effects of symbiosis and temperature on coral calcification
Vargas, Phillip A.
La Riviere, Patrick J.
Roberson, Loretta M.
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We tested the impact of temperature and symbiont state on calcification in corals, using the facultatively symbiotic coral Astrangia poculata as a model system. Symbiotic and aposymbiotic colonies of A. poculata were reared in 15, 20, and 27 °C conditions. We used scanning electron microscopy to quantify how these physiological and environmental conditions impact skeletal structure. Buoyant weight data over time revealed that temperature significantly affects calcification rates. Scanning electron microscopy of A. poculata skeletons showed that aposymbiotic colonies appear to have a lower density of calcium carbonate in actively growing septal spines. We describe a novel approach to analyze the roughness and texture of scanning electron microscopy images. Quantitative analysis of the roughness of septal spines revealed that aposymbiotic colonies have a rougher surface than symbiotic colonies in tropical conditions (27 °C). This trend reversed at 15 °C, a temperature at which the symbionts of A. poculata may exhibit parasitic properties. Analysis of surface texture patterns showed that temperature impacts the spatial variance of crystals on the spine surface. Few published studies have examined the skeleton of A. poculata by using scanning electron microscopy. Our approach provides a way to study detailed changes in skeletal microstructure in response to environmental parameters and can serve as a proxy for more expensive and time-consuming analyses. Utilizing a facultatively symbiotic coral that is native to both temperate and tropical regions provides new insights into the impact of both symbiosis and temperature on calcification in corals.
Author Posting. © University of Chicago, 2022. This article is posted here by permission of University of Chicago for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Biological Bulletin 242(1), (2022): 62-73, https://doi.org/10.1086/716711.
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