Goyen, S, Camp, EF, Fujise, L, Lloyd, A, Nitschke, MR, LaJeunensse, T, Kahlke, T, Ralph, PJ & Suggett, D 2019, 'Mass coral bleaching of P. versipora in Sydney Harbour driven by the 2015–2016 heatwave', Coral Reefs, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 815-830.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. High-latitude coral communities are distinct from their tropical counterparts, and how they respond to recent heat wave events that have decimated tropical reefs remains unknown. In Australia, the 2016 El Niño resulted in the largest global mass coral bleaching event to date, reaching as far south as Sydney Harbour (~ 34°S). Coral bleaching was observed for the first time (affecting ca., 60% of all corals) as sea surface temperatures in Sydney Harbour remained > 2 °C above the long-term mean summer maxima, enabling us to examine whether high-latitude corals bleached in a manner described for tropical corals. Responses of the geographically cosmopolitan Plesiastrea versipora and southerly restricted Coscinaraea mcneilli were contrasted across two harbour sites, both in situ and among samples-maintained ex situ in aquaria continually supplied with Sydney Harbour seawater. While both coral taxa hosted the same species of microalgal endosymbiont (Breviolum spp; formerly clade B), only P. versipora bleached both in situ and ex situ via pronounced losses of endosymbiont cells. Both species displayed very different metabolic responses (growth, photosynthesis, respiration and calcification) and bleaching susceptibilities under elevated temperatures. Bacterial microbiome profiling, however, revealed a convergence of bacterial community composition across coral species throughout the bleaching. Corals species found in temperate regions, including the generalist P. versipora, will therefore likely be highly susceptible to future change as heat waves grow in frequency and severity unless their thermal thresholds increase. Our observations provide further evidence that high-latitude systems are susceptible to community reorganisation under climate change.
Goyen, S, Camp, EF, Fujise, L, Lloyd, A, Nitschke, MR, LaJeunesse, TC, Kahlke, T, Ralph, PJ & Suggett, D 2019, 'Mass coral bleaching of P. versipora in Sydney Harbour driven by the 2015-2016 heatwave (vol 38, pg 815, 2019)', CORAL REEFS, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 877-877.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Fujise, L, Nitschke, MR, Frommlet, JC, Serôdio, J, Woodcock, S, Ralph, PJ & Suggett, DJ 2018, 'Cell Cycle Dynamics of Cultured Coral Endosymbiotic Microalgae (Symbiodinium) Across Different Types (Species) Under Alternate Light and Temperature Conditions', Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, vol. 65, pp. 505-517.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Nitschke, MR, Gardner, SG, Goyen, S, Fujise, L, Camp, EF, Ralph, PJ & Suggett, DJ 2018, 'Utility of photochemical traits as diagnostics of thermal tolerance amongst great barrier reef corals', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 5, no. FEB.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2018 Nitschke, Gardner, Goyen, Fujise, Camp, Ralph and Suggett. Light availability is considered a key factor regulating the thermal sensitivity of reef building corals, where excessive excitation of photosystem II (PSII) further exacerbates pressure on photochemical pathways already compromised by heat stress. Coral symbionts acclimate to changes in light availability (photoacclimation) by continually fine-tuning the photochemical operating efficiency of PSII. However, how this process adjusts throughout the warmest months in naturally heat-tolerant or sensitive species is unknown, and whether this influences the capacity to tolerate transient heat stress is untested. We therefore examined the PSII photophysiology of 10 coral species (with known thermal tolerances) from shallow reef environments at Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia), in spring (October-November, 2015) vs. summer (February-March, 2016). Corals were maintained in flow-through aquaria and rapid light curve (RLC) protocols using pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometry captured changes in the PSII photoacclimation strategy, characterized as the minimum saturating irradiance (Ek), and the extent of photochemical ([1-C], operating efficiency) vs. non-photochemical ([1-Q]) energy dissipation. Values of Ekacross species were > 2-fold higher in all coral species in spring, consistent with a climate of higher overall light exposure (i.e., higher PAR from lower cloud cover, rainfall and wind speed) compared with summer. Summer decreases in Ekwere combined with a shift toward preferential photochemical quenching in all species. All coral species were subsequently subjected to thermal stress assays. An equivalent temperature-ramping profile of 1°C increase per day and then maintenance at 32°C was applied in each season. Despite the significant seasonal photoacclimation, the species hierarchy of thermal tolerance [maximum quantum yields of PSII (Fv/Fm), monitored at dawn and dusk] did not shift...
Camp, EF, Nitschke, MR, Rodolfo-Metalpa, R, Houlbreque, F, Gardner, SG, Smith, DJ, Zampighi, M & Suggett, DJ 2017, 'Reef-building corals thrive within hot-acidified and deoxygenated waters.', Scientific reports, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 2434-2434.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Coral reefs are deteriorating under climate change as oceans continue to warm and acidify and thermal anomalies grow in frequency and intensity. In vitro experiments are widely used to forecast reef-building coral health into the future, but often fail to account for the complex ecological and biogeochemical interactions that govern reefs. Consequently, observations from coral communities under naturally occurring extremes have become central for improved predictions of future reef form and function. Here, we present a semi-enclosed lagoon system in New Caledonia characterised by diel fluctuations of hot-deoxygenated water coupled with tidally driven persistently low pH, relative to neighbouring reefs. Coral communities within the lagoon system exhibited high richness (number of species = 20) and cover (24-35% across lagoon sites). Calcification rates for key species (Acropora formosa, Acropora pulchra, Coelastrea aspera and Porites lutea) for populations from the lagoon were equivalent to, or reduced by ca. 30-40% compared to those from the reef. Enhanced coral respiration, alongside high particulate organic content of the lagoon sediment, suggests acclimatisation to this trio of temperature, oxygen and pH changes through heterotrophic plasticity. This semi-enclosed lagoon therefore provides a novel system to understand coral acclimatisation to complex climatic scenarios and may serve as a reservoir of coral populations already resistant to extreme environmental conditions.
Levin, RA, Suggett, DJ, Nitschke, MR, van Oppen, MJH & Steinberg, PD 2017, 'Expanding the Symbiodinium (Dinophyceae, Suessiales) Toolkit Through Protoplast Technology.', The Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, vol. 64, no. 5, pp. 588-597.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Dinoflagellates within the genus Symbiodinium are photosymbionts of many tropical reef invertebrates, including corals, making them central to the health of coral reefs. Symbiodinium have therefore gained significant research attention, though studies have been constrained by technical limitations. In particular, the generation of viable cells with their cell walls removed (termed protoplasts) has enabled a wide range of experimental techniques for bacteria, fungi, plants, and algae such as ultrastructure studies, virus infection studies, patch clamping, genetic transformation, and protoplast fusion. However, previous studies have struggled to remove the cell walls from armored dinoflagellates, potentially due to the internal placement of their cell walls. Here, we produce the first Symbiodinium protoplasts from three genetically and physiologically distinct strains via incubation with cellulase and osmotic agents. Digestion of the cell walls was verified by a lack of Calcofluor White fluorescence signal and by cell swelling in hypotonic culture medium. Fused protoplasts were also observed, motivating future investigation into intra- and inter-specific somatic hybridization of Symbiodinium. Following digestion and transfer to regeneration medium, protoplasts remained photosynthetically active, regrew cell walls, regained motility, and entered exponential growth. Generation of Symbiodinium protoplasts opens exciting, new avenues for researching these crucial symbiotic dinoflagellates, including genetic modification.
Lohr, KE, Smith, DJ, Suggett, DJ, Nitschke, MR, Dumbrell, AJ, Woodcock, S & Camp, EF 2017, 'Coral Community Structure and Recruitment in Seagrass Meadows', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 4, pp. 1-13.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Klein, SG, Pitt, KA, Nitschke, MR, Goyen, S, Welsh, DT, Suggett, DJ & Carroll, AR 2017, 'Symbiodinium mitigate the combined effects of hypoxia and acidification on a noncalcifying cnidarian.', Global Change Biology, vol. 23, no. 9, pp. 3690-3703.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Anthropogenic nutrient inputs enhance microbial respiration within many coastal ecosystems, driving concurrent hypoxia and acidification. During photosynthesis, Symbiodinium spp., the microalgal endosymbionts of cnidarians and other marine phyla, produce O2 and assimilate CO2 and thus potentially mitigate the exposure of the host to these stresses. However, such a role for Symbiodinium remains untested for noncalcifying cnidarians. We therefore contrasted the fitness of symbiotic and aposymbiotic polyps of a model host jellyfish (Cassiopea sp.) under reduced O2 (~2.09 mg/L) and pH (~ 7.63) scenarios in a full-factorial experiment. Host fitness was characterized as asexual reproduction and their ability to regulate internal pH and Symbiodinium performance characterized by maximum photochemical efficiency, chla content and cell density. Acidification alone resulted in 58% more asexual reproduction of symbiotic polyps than aposymbiotic polyps (and enhanced Symbiodinium cell density) suggesting Cassiopea sp. fitness was enhanced by CO2 -stimulated Symbiodinium photosynthetic activity. Indeed, greater CO2 drawdown (elevated pH) was observed within host tissues of symbiotic polyps under acidification regardless of O2 conditions. Hypoxia alone produced 22% fewer polyps than ambient conditions regardless of acidification and symbiont status, suggesting Symbiodinium photosynthetic activity did not mitigate its effects. Combined hypoxia and acidification, however, produced similar numbers of symbiotic polyps compared with aposymbiotic kept under ambient conditions, demonstrating that the presence of Symbiodinium was key for mitigating the combined effects of hypoxia and acidification on asexual reproduction. We hypothesize that this mitigation occurred because of reduced photorespiration under elevated CO2 conditions where increased net O2 production ameliorates oxygen debt. We show that Symbiodinium play an important role in facilitating enhanced fitness of Cassiopea sp. ...