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Keywords:

  • Calvin cycle;
  • coral bleaching;
  • pulse amplitude modulated fluorometry;
  • Symbiodinium;
  • thermal inhibition

Exposure to elevated temperature is known to cause photosynthetic inhibition in the coral symbiont Symbiodinium sp. Through the use of the artificial electron acceptor, methyl viologen, this study identified how reduced photosynthetic capacity occurs as a result of inhibition up- and/or downstream of ferredoxin in Symbiodinium sp. in hospite and in culture. Heterogeneity between coral species and symbiont clades was identified in the thermal sensitivity of photosynthesis in the symbionts of the scleractinian corals Stylophora pistillata and Pocillopora damicornis, as well as among Symbiodinium cultures of clades A, B, and C. The in hospite symbionts of S. pistillata and the cultured clade C Symbiodinium both exhibited similar patterns in that their primary site of thermal inhibition occurred downstream of ferredoxin at 32°C. In contrast, the primary site of thermal inhibition occurred upstream of ferredoxin in clades A and B at 32°C, while at 34°C, all samples showed combined up- and downstream inhibition. Although clade C is common to both P. damicornis and S. pistillata, the manner of thermal inhibition was not consistent when observed in hospite. Results showed that there is heterogeneity in the primal site of thermal damage in Symbiodinium among coral species and symbiont clades.