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Acclimatization of symbiotic corals to mesophotic light environments through wavelength transformation by fluorescent protein pigments

Acclimatization of symbiotic corals to mesophotic light environments through wavelength transformation by fluorescent protein pigments
Acclimatization of symbiotic corals to mesophotic light environments through wavelength transformation by fluorescent protein pigments
The depth distribution of reef-building corals exposes their photosynthetic symbionts of the genus Symbiodinium to extreme gradients in the intensity and spectral quality of the ambient light environment. Characterizing the mechanisms used by the coral holobiont to respond to the low intensity and reduced spectral composition of the light environment in deeper reefs (greater than 20 m) is fundamental to our understanding of the functioning and structure of reefs across depth gradients. Here, we demonstrate that host pigments, specifically photoconvertible red fluorescent proteins (pcRFPs), can promote coral adaptation/acclimatization to deeper-water light environments by transforming the prevalent blue light into orange-red light, which can penetrate deeper within zooxanthellae-containing tissues; this facilitates a more homogeneous distribution of photons across symbiont communities. The ecological importance of pcRFPs in deeper reefs is supported by the increasing proportion of red fluorescent corals with depth (measured down to 45 m) and increased survival of colour morphs with strong expression of pcRFPs in long-term light manipulation experiments. In addition to screening by host pigments from high light intensities in shallow water, the spectral transformation observed in deeper-water corals highlights the importance of GFP-like protein expression as an ecological mechanism to support the functioning of the coral–Symbiodinium association across steep environmental gradients.
0962-8452
1-9
Smith, Edward G.
fc355d48-9c28-41dc-a191-0c33308be0ed
D'angelo, Cecilia
0d35b03b-684d-43aa-a57a-87212ab07ee1
Sharon, Yoni
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Tchernov, Dan
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Wiedenmann, Joerg
ad445af2-680f-4927-90b3-589ac9d538f7
Smith, Edward G.
fc355d48-9c28-41dc-a191-0c33308be0ed
D'angelo, Cecilia
0d35b03b-684d-43aa-a57a-87212ab07ee1
Sharon, Yoni
6c5f7225-5df7-4680-9f1b-01730eb20cf1
Tchernov, Dan
6e92a6e2-c93c-4d73-959d-bb95634fcce8
Wiedenmann, Joerg
ad445af2-680f-4927-90b3-589ac9d538f7

Smith, Edward G., D'angelo, Cecilia, Sharon, Yoni, Tchernov, Dan and Wiedenmann, Joerg (2017) Acclimatization of symbiotic corals to mesophotic light environments through wavelength transformation by fluorescent protein pigments. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284 (1858), 1-9, [20170320]. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.0320).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The depth distribution of reef-building corals exposes their photosynthetic symbionts of the genus Symbiodinium to extreme gradients in the intensity and spectral quality of the ambient light environment. Characterizing the mechanisms used by the coral holobiont to respond to the low intensity and reduced spectral composition of the light environment in deeper reefs (greater than 20 m) is fundamental to our understanding of the functioning and structure of reefs across depth gradients. Here, we demonstrate that host pigments, specifically photoconvertible red fluorescent proteins (pcRFPs), can promote coral adaptation/acclimatization to deeper-water light environments by transforming the prevalent blue light into orange-red light, which can penetrate deeper within zooxanthellae-containing tissues; this facilitates a more homogeneous distribution of photons across symbiont communities. The ecological importance of pcRFPs in deeper reefs is supported by the increasing proportion of red fluorescent corals with depth (measured down to 45 m) and increased survival of colour morphs with strong expression of pcRFPs in long-term light manipulation experiments. In addition to screening by host pigments from high light intensities in shallow water, the spectral transformation observed in deeper-water corals highlights the importance of GFP-like protein expression as an ecological mechanism to support the functioning of the coral–Symbiodinium association across steep environmental gradients.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 22 June 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 5 July 2017
Published date: 12 July 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 412849
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/412849
ISSN: 0962-8452
PURE UUID: 88857fb4-4b38-4392-8b7e-17c25109ba68
ORCID for Joerg Wiedenmann: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2128-2943

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 03 Aug 2017 16:30
Last modified: 07 Oct 2020 01:53

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