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Letter. Nutrient enrichment can increase the susceptibility of reef corals to bleaching

Letter. Nutrient enrichment can increase the susceptibility of reef corals to bleaching
Letter. Nutrient enrichment can increase the susceptibility of reef corals to bleaching
Mass coral bleaching, resulting from the breakdown of coral–algal symbiosis has been identified as the most severe threat to coral reef survival on a global scale. Regionally, nutrient enrichment of reef waters is often associated with a significant loss of coral cover and diversity. Recently, increased dissolved inorganic nitrogen concentrations have been linked to a reduction of the temperature threshold of coral bleaching, a phenomenon for which no mechanistic explanation is available. Here we show that increased levels of dissolved inorganic nitrogen in combination with limited phosphate concentrations result in an increased susceptibility of corals to temperature- and light-induced bleaching. Mass spectrometric analyses of the algal lipidome revealed a marked accumulation of sulpholipids under these conditions. Together with increased phosphatase activities, this change indicates that the imbalanced supply of dissolved inorganic nitrogen results in phosphate starvation of the symbiotic algae. Based on these findings we introduce a conceptual model that links unfavourable ratios of dissolved inorganic nutrients in the water column with established mechanisms of coral bleaching. Notably, this model improves the understanding of the detrimental effects of coastal nutrient enrichment on coral reefs, which is urgently required to support knowledge-based management strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change.
oceanography, ecology, biogeochemistry and geochemistry, biology
1758-678X
160-164
Wiedenmann, Jörg
ad445af2-680f-4927-90b3-589ac9d538f7
D'Angelo, Cecilia
0d35b03b-684d-43aa-a57a-87212ab07ee1
Smith, Edward G.
bc4bde94-8c86-46c3-8c1c-9fe8c72fb43e
Hunt, Alan N.
95a3e223-da96-40e7-b47d-27dce014e305
Legiret, François-Eric
954da4a6-fb75-4899-b8c9-04bed2749f89
Postle, Anthony D.
0fa17988-b4a0-4cdc-819a-9ae15c5dad66
Achterberg, Eric P.
685ce961-8c45-4503-9f03-50f6561202b9
Wiedenmann, Jörg
ad445af2-680f-4927-90b3-589ac9d538f7
D'Angelo, Cecilia
0d35b03b-684d-43aa-a57a-87212ab07ee1
Smith, Edward G.
bc4bde94-8c86-46c3-8c1c-9fe8c72fb43e
Hunt, Alan N.
95a3e223-da96-40e7-b47d-27dce014e305
Legiret, François-Eric
954da4a6-fb75-4899-b8c9-04bed2749f89
Postle, Anthony D.
0fa17988-b4a0-4cdc-819a-9ae15c5dad66
Achterberg, Eric P.
685ce961-8c45-4503-9f03-50f6561202b9

Wiedenmann, Jörg, D'Angelo, Cecilia, Smith, Edward G., Hunt, Alan N., Legiret, François-Eric, Postle, Anthony D. and Achterberg, Eric P. (2013) Letter. Nutrient enrichment can increase the susceptibility of reef corals to bleaching. Nature Climate Change, 3 (5), 160-164. (doi:10.1038/nclimate1661).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Mass coral bleaching, resulting from the breakdown of coral–algal symbiosis has been identified as the most severe threat to coral reef survival on a global scale. Regionally, nutrient enrichment of reef waters is often associated with a significant loss of coral cover and diversity. Recently, increased dissolved inorganic nitrogen concentrations have been linked to a reduction of the temperature threshold of coral bleaching, a phenomenon for which no mechanistic explanation is available. Here we show that increased levels of dissolved inorganic nitrogen in combination with limited phosphate concentrations result in an increased susceptibility of corals to temperature- and light-induced bleaching. Mass spectrometric analyses of the algal lipidome revealed a marked accumulation of sulpholipids under these conditions. Together with increased phosphatase activities, this change indicates that the imbalanced supply of dissolved inorganic nitrogen results in phosphate starvation of the symbiotic algae. Based on these findings we introduce a conceptual model that links unfavourable ratios of dissolved inorganic nutrients in the water column with established mechanisms of coral bleaching. Notably, this model improves the understanding of the detrimental effects of coastal nutrient enrichment on coral reefs, which is urgently required to support knowledge-based management strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: August 2012
Published date: 2013
Keywords: oceanography, ecology, biogeochemistry and geochemistry, biology
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science, Faculty of Medicine, Ocean Biochemistry & Ecosystems

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 346217
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/346217
ISSN: 1758-678X
PURE UUID: 31e68401-9c24-47b2-a88f-68a328ac5a3b
ORCID for Jörg Wiedenmann: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2128-2943
ORCID for Alan N. Hunt: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5938-2152
ORCID for Anthony D. Postle: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7361-0756

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 13 Dec 2012 15:47
Last modified: 17 Dec 2019 02:05

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Contributors

Author: Edward G. Smith
Author: Alan N. Hunt ORCID iD
Author: François-Eric Legiret

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