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Breakdown of the Coral-algae Symbiosis: Towards Formalising a Linkage Between Warm-water Bleaching Thresholds and the Growth Rate of the Intracellular Zooxanthellae : Volume 9, Issue 7 (05/07/2012)

By Wooldridge, S. A.

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Book Id: WPLBN0003982560
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 29
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: Breakdown of the Coral-algae Symbiosis: Towards Formalising a Linkage Between Warm-water Bleaching Thresholds and the Growth Rate of the Intracellular Zooxanthellae : Volume 9, Issue 7 (05/07/2012)  
Author: Wooldridge, S. A.
Volume: Vol. 9, Issue 7
Language: English
Subject: Science, Biogeosciences, Discussions
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection (Contemporary), Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications


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Wooldridge, S. A. (2012). Breakdown of the Coral-algae Symbiosis: Towards Formalising a Linkage Between Warm-water Bleaching Thresholds and the Growth Rate of the Intracellular Zooxanthellae : Volume 9, Issue 7 (05/07/2012). Retrieved from

Description: Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB#3 Townsville MC, Townsville 4810, Queensland, Australia. Impairment of the photosynthetic machinery of the algal endosymbiont (zooxanthellae) is the proximal trigger for the thermal breakdown of the coral-algae symbiosis (coral bleaching). Yet, the primary site of thermal damage is not well resolved. In this perspective essay, I consider further a recent hypothesis which proposes an energetic disruption to the carbon-concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) of the coral host, and the resultant onset of CO2-limitation within the photosynthetic dark reactions, as a unifying cellular mechanism. The hypothesis identifies the enhanced retention of photosynthetic carbon for zooxanthellae (re)growth following an initial irradiance-driven expulsion event as the cause of the energetic disruption. If true, then it implies that the onset of the bleaching syndrome and setting of upper thermal bleaching limits are emergent attributes of the coral symbiosis that are ultimately underpinned by the characteristic growth profile of the intracellular zooxanthellae; which is known to depend not just on temperature, but also external (seawater) nutrient availability and zooxanthellae genotype. Here, I review this proposed bleaching linkage at a variety of observational scales, and find it to be parsimonious with the available evidence. This provides a new standpoint to consider the future prospects of the coral symbiosis in an era of rapid environmental change, including the now crucial importance of reef water quality in co-determining thermal bleaching resistance.

Breakdown of the coral-algae symbiosis: towards formalising a linkage between warm-water bleaching thresholds and the growth rate of the intracellular zooxanthellae

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