Anemonefish facilitate bleaching recovery in a host sea anemone.
ABSTRACT: Ocean warming is causing the symbioses between cnidarians and their algal symbionts to breakdown more frequently, resulting in bleaching. For sea anemones, nutritional benefits derived from hosting anemonefishes increase their algal symbiont density. The sea anemone-anemonefish relationship could, therefore, facilitate bleaching recovery. To test this, bleached and unbleached sea anemones, both with and without anemonefish, were monitored in the laboratory. At the start of our experiment, algal symbiont density and colour score were lower in the bleached than unbleached sea anemones, whereas total chlorophyll remained similar. After 106 days, bleached sea anemones with anemonefish had an algal symbiont density and colour score equal to the controls (unbleached sea anemones and without anemonefish), indicating recovery had occurred. Furthermore, total chlorophyll was 66% higher in the bleached sea anemones with anemonefish than the controls. In contrast, recovery did not occur for the bleached sea anemones without anemonefish as they had 78% fewer algal symbionts than the controls, and colour score remained lower. Unbleached sea anemones with anemonefish also showed positive changes in algal symbiont density and total chlorophyll, which increased by 103% and 264%, respectively. Consequently, anemonefishes give their host sea anemones a distinct ecological advantage by enhancing resilience to bleaching, highlighting the benefits of symbioses in a changing climate.
Project description:Increased ocean temperatures are causing mass bleaching of anemones and corals in the tropics worldwide. While such heat-induced loss of algal symbionts (zooxanthellae) directly affects anemones and corals physiologically, this damage may also cascade on to other animal symbionts. Metabolic rate is an integrative physiological trait shown to relate to various aspects of organismal performance, behaviour and locomotor capacity, and also shows plasticity during exposure to acute and chronic stressors. As climate warming is expected to affect the physiology, behaviour and life history of animals, including ectotherms such as fish, we measured if residing in bleached versus unbleached sea anemones (Heteractis magnifica) affected the standard (i.e. baseline) metabolic rate and behaviour (activity) of juvenile orange-fin anemonefish (Amphiprion chrysopterus). Metabolic rate was estimated from rates of oxygen uptake [Formula: see text], and the standard metabolic rate [Formula: see text] of anemonefish from bleached anemones was significantly higher by 8.2% compared with that of fish residing in unbleached anemones, possibly due to increased stress levels. Activity levels did not differ between fish from bleached and unbleached anemones. As [Formula: see text] reflects the minimum cost of living, the increased metabolic demands may contribute to the negative impacts of bleaching on important anemonefish life history and fitness traits observed previously (e.g. reduced spawning frequency and lower fecundity).
Project description:Understanding how bleaching impacts the settlement of symbiotic habitat specialists and whether there is flexibility in settlement choices with regard to habitat quality is essential given our changing climate. We used five anemonefishes (Amphiprion clarkii, Amphiprion latezonatus, Amphiprion ocellaris, Amphiprion percula and Premnas biaculeatus) and three host sea anemones (Entacmaea quadricolor, Heteractis crispa and Heteractis magnifica) in paired-choice flume experiments to determine whether habitat naive juveniles have the olfactory capabilities to distinguish between unbleached and bleached hosts, and how this may affect settlement decisions. All anemonefishes were able to distinguish between bleached and unbleached hosts, and responded only to chemical cues from species-specific host anemones irrespective of health status, indicating a lack of flexibility in host use. While bleached hosts were selected as habitat, this occurred only when unbleached options were unavailable, with the exception of A. latezonatus, which showed strong preferences for H. crispa regardless of health. This study highlights the potential deleterious indirect impacts of declining habitat quality during larval settlement in habitat specialists, which could be important in the field, given that bleaching events are becoming increasingly common.
Project description:Anemonefishes (genera: Amphiprion and Premnas; family Pomacentridae) are a group of 28 species of coral reef fishes that are found in obligate symbiosis with large tropical sea anemones. A phylogenetic hypothesis based on morphological analyses of this group suggests that the ancestral anemonefish was a generalist with similar morphology to other pomacentrids, and that it gave rise to other anemonefish species that were more specialized for living with particular species of host anemones. To test this hypothesis we constructed a molecular phylogeny for the anemonefishes by sequencing 1140 base pairs of the cytochrome b gene and 522 base pairs of the 16S rRNA gene for six species of anemonefishes (representatives of all subgenera and species complexes) and two other pomacentrid species. Three methods of phylogenetic analysis all strongly supported the conclusion that anemonefishes are a monophyletic group. The molecular phylogeny differs from the tree based on morphological data in that the two species of specialized anemonefishes (Premnas biaculeatus and Amphiprion ocellaris) were assigned to a basal position within the clade, and the extreme host generalist (Amphiprion clarkii) to a more derived position. Thus, the initial anemonefish ancestors were probably host specialists and subsequent speciation events led to a combination of generalist and specialist groups. Further phylogenetic studies of additional anemonefish species are required to substantiate this hypothesis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Rising sea temperatures are causing significant destruction to coral reef ecosystems due to coral mortality from thermally-induced bleaching (loss of symbiotic algae and/or their photosynthetic pigments). Although bleaching has been intensively studied in corals, little is known about the causes and consequences of bleaching in other tropical symbiotic organisms. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: This study used underwater visual surveys to investigate bleaching in the 10 species of anemones that host anemonefishes. Bleaching was confirmed in seven anemone species (with anecdotal reports of bleaching in the other three species) at 10 of 19 survey locations spanning the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea, indicating that anemone bleaching is taxonomically and geographically widespread. In total, bleaching was observed in 490 of the 13,896 surveyed anemones (3.5%); however, this percentage was much higher (19-100%) during five major bleaching events that were associated with periods of elevated water temperatures and coral bleaching. There was considerable spatial variation in anemone bleaching during most of these events, suggesting that certain sites and deeper waters might act as refuges. Susceptibility to bleaching varied between species, and in some species, bleaching caused reductions in size and abundance. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Anemones are long-lived with low natural mortality, which makes them particularly vulnerable to predicted increases in severity and frequency of bleaching events. Population viability will be severely compromised if anemones and their symbionts cannot acclimate or adapt to rising sea temperatures. Anemone bleaching also has negative effects to other species, particularly those that have an obligate relationship with anemones. These effects include reductions in abundance and reproductive output of anemonefishes. Therefore, the future of these iconic and commercially valuable coral reef fishes is inextricably linked to the ability of host anemones to cope with rising sea temperatures associated with climate change.
Project description:There has been an increase in the scale and frequency of coral bleaching around the world due mainly to changes in sea temperature. This may occur at large scales, often resulting in significant decline in coral coverage. In order to understand the molecular and cellular basis of the ever-increasing incidence of coral bleaching, we have undertaken a comparative proteomic approach with the endangered Caribbean coral Acropora palmata. Using a proteomic tandem mass spectrometry approach, we identified 285 and 321 expressed protein signatures in bleached and unbleached A. palmata colonies, respectively, in southwestern Puerto Rico. Overall the expression level of 38 key proteins was significantly different between bleached and unbleached corals. A wide range of proteins was detected and categorized, including transcription factors involved mainly in heat stress/UV responses, immunity, apoptosis, biomineralization, the cytoskeleton, and endo-exophagocytosis. The results suggest that for bleached A. palmata, there was an induced differential protein expression response compared with those colonies that did not bleach under the same environmental conditions.
Project description:The 'species' is a key concept for conservation and evolutionary biology, yet the lines between population and species-level variation are often blurred, especially for corals. The 'Porites lobata species complex' consists of branching and mounding corals that form reefs across the Pacific. We used reduced representation meta-genomic sequencing to examine genetic relationships within this species complex and to identify candidate loci associated with colony morphology, cryptic genetic structure, and apparent bleaching susceptibility. We compared existing Porites data with bleached and unbleached colonies of the branching coral P. compressa collected in K?ne'ohe Bay Hawai'i during the 2015 coral bleaching event. Loci that mapped to coral, symbiont, and microbial references revealed genetic structure consistent with recent host-symbiont co-evolution. Cryptic genetic clades were resolved that previous work has associated with distance from shore, but no genetic structure was associated with bleaching. We identified many candidate loci associated with morphospecies, including candidate host and symbiont loci with fixed differences between branching and mounding corals. We also found many loci associated with cryptic genetic structure, yet relatively few loci associated with bleaching. Recent host-symbiont co-evolution and rapid diversification suggests that variation and therefore the capacity of these corals to adapt may be underappreciated.
Project description:Organisms can behaviorally, physiologically, and morphologically adjust to environmental variation via integrative hormonal mechanisms, ultimately allowing animals to cope with environmental change. The stress response to environmental and social changes commonly promotes survival at the expense of reproduction. However, despite climate change impacts on population declines and diversity loss, few studies have attributed hormonal stress responses, or their regulatory effects, to climate change in the wild. Here, we report hormonal and fitness responses of individual wild fish to a recent large-scale sea warming event that caused widespread bleaching on coral reefs. This 14-month monitoring study shows a strong correlation between anemone bleaching (zooxanthellae loss), anemonefish stress response, and reproductive hormones that decreased fecundity by 73%. These findings suggest that hormone stress responses play a crucial role in changes to population demography following climate change and plasticity in hormonal responsiveness may be a key mechanism enabling individual acclimation to climate change.Elevated temperatures can cause anemones to bleach, with unknown effects on their associated symbiotic fish. Here, Beldade and colleagues show that climate-induced bleaching alters anemonefish hormonal stress response, resulting in decreased reproductive hormones and severely impacted reproduction.
Project description:Disease is increasingly viewed as a major factor in the ecology of marine communities and its impact appears to be increasing with environmental change, such as global warming. The temperate macroalga Delisea pulchra bleaches in Southeast Australia during warm summer periods, a phenomenon which previous studies have indicated is caused by a temperature induced bacterial disease. In order to better understand the ecology of this disease, the bacterial communities associated with threes type of samples was investigated using 16S rRNA gene and environmental shotgun sequencing: 1) unbleached (healthy) D. pulchra 2) bleached parts of D. pulchra and 3) apparently healthy tissue adjacent to bleached regions. Phylogenetic differences between healthy and bleached communities mainly reflected relative changes in the taxa Colwelliaceae, Rhodobacteraceae, Thalassomonas and Parvularcula. Comparative metagenomics showed clear difference in the communities of healthy and diseased D. pulchra as reflected by changes in functions associated with transcriptional regulation, cation/multidrug efflux and non-ribosomal peptide synthesis. Importantly, the phylogenetic and functional composition of apparently healthy tissue adjacent to bleached sections of the thalli indicated that changes in the microbial communities already occur in the absence of visible tissue damage. This shift in unbleached sections might be due to the decrease in furanones, algal metabolites which are antagonists of bacterial quorum sensing. This study reveals the complex shift in the community composition associated with bleaching of Delisea pulchra and together with previous studies is consistent with a model in which elevated temperatures reduce levels of chemical defenses in stressed thalli, leading to colonization or proliferation by opportunistic pathogens or scavengers.
Project description:Thermal stress drives the bleaching of reef corals, during which the endosymbiotic relationship between Symbiodiniaceae microalgae and the host breaks down. The endosymbiont communities are known to shift in response to environmental disturbances, but how they respond within and between colonies during and following bleaching events remains unclear. In 2016, a major global-scale bleaching event hit countless tropical reefs. Here, we investigate the relative abundances of Cladocopium LaJeunesse & H.J.Jeong, 2018 and Durusdinium LaJeunesse, 2018 within and among Pachyseris speciosa colonies in equatorial Singapore that are known to host both these Symbiodiniaceae clades. Bleached and unbleached tissues from bleaching colonies, as well as healthy colonies, during and following the bleaching event were sampled and analyzed for comparison. The nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions were separately amplified and quantified using a SYBR Green-based quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) method and Illumina high-throughput sequencing. We found Cladocopium to be highly abundant relative to Durusdinium. The relative abundance of Durusdinium, known to be thermally tolerant, was highest in post-bleaching healthy colonies, while bleached and unbleached tissues from bleaching colonies as well as tissue from healthy colonies during the event had depressed proportions of Durusdinium. Given the importance of Durusdinium for thermal tolerance and stress response, it is surprising that bleached tissue showed limited change over healthy tissue during the bleaching event. Moreover, colonies were invariably dominated by Cladocopium during bleaching, but a minority of colonies were Durusdinium-dominant during non-bleaching times. The detailed characterization of Symbiodiniaceae in specific colonies during stress and recovery will provide insights into this crucial symbiosis, with implications for their responses during major bleaching events.
Project description:Repeat marine heat wave-induced mass coral bleaching has decimated reefs in Seychelles for 35 years, but how coral-associated microbial diversity (microalgal endosymbionts of the family Symbiodiniaceae and bacterial communities) potentially underpins broad-scale bleaching dynamics remains unknown. We assessed microbiome composition during the 2016 heat wave peak at two contrasting reef sites (clear vs. turbid) in Seychelles, for key coral species considered bleaching sensitive (Acropora muricata, Acropora gemmifera) or tolerant (Porites lutea, Coelastrea aspera). For all species and sites, we sampled bleached versus unbleached colonies to examine how microbiomes align with heat stress susceptibility. Over 30% of all corals bleached in 2016, half of which were from Acropora sp. and Pocillopora sp. mass bleaching that largely transitioned to mortality by 2017. Symbiodiniaceae ITS2-sequencing revealed that the two Acropora sp. and P. lutea generally associated with C3z/C3 and C15 types, respectively, whereas C. aspera exhibited a plastic association with multiple D types and two C3z types. 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that bacterial communities were coral host-specific, largely through differences in the most abundant families, Hahellaceae (comprising Endozoicomonas), Rhodospirillaceae, and Rhodobacteraceae. Both Acropora sp. exhibited lower bacterial diversity, species richness, and community evenness compared to more bleaching-resistant P. lutea and C. aspera. Different bleaching susceptibility among coral species was thus consistent with distinct microbiome community profiles. These profiles were conserved across bleached and unbleached colonies of all coral species. As this pattern could also reflect a parallel response of the microbiome to environmental changes, the detailed functional associations will need to be determined in future studies. Further understanding such microbiome-environmental interactions is likely critical to target more effective management within oceanically isolated reefs of Seychelles.