Camp, EF, Suggett, DJ, Pogoreutz, C, Nitschke, MR, Houlbreque, F, Hume, BCC, Gardner, SG, Zampighi, M, Rodolfo-Metalpa, R & Voolstra, CR 2020, 'Corals exhibit distinct patterns of microbial reorganisation to thrive in an extreme inshore environment', CORAL REEFS.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Leggat, WP, Camp, EF, Suggett, DJ, Heron, SF, Fordyce, AJ, Gardner, S, Deakin, L, Turner, M, Beeching, LJ, Kuzhiumparambil, U, Eakin, CM & Ainsworth, TD 2019, 'Rapid Coral Decay Is Associated with Marine Heatwave Mortality Events on Reefs.', Current biology : CB, vol. 29, no. 16, pp. 2723-2730.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Severe marine heatwaves have recently become a common feature of global ocean conditions due to a rapidly changing climate [1, 2]. These increasingly severe thermal conditions are causing an unprecedented increase in the frequency and severity of mortality events in marine ecosystems, including on coral reefs . The degradation of coral reefs will result in the collapse of ecosystem services that sustain over half a billion people globally [4, 5]. Here, we show that marine heatwave events on coral reefs are biologically distinct to how coral bleaching has been understood to date, in that heatwave conditions result in an immediate heat-induced mortality of the coral colony, rapid coral skeletal dissolution, and the loss of the three-dimensional reef structure. During heatwave-induced mortality, the coral skeletons exposed by tissue loss are, within days, encased by a complex biofilm of phototrophic microbes, whose metabolic activity accelerates calcium carbonate dissolution to rates exceeding accretion by healthy corals and far greater than has been documented on reefs under normal seawater conditions. This dissolution reduces the skeletal density and hardness and increases porosity. These results demonstrate that severe-heatwave-induced mortality events should be considered as a distinct biological phenomenon from bleaching events on coral reefs. We also suggest that such heatwave mortality events, and rapid reef decay, will become more frequent as the intensity of marine heatwaves increases and provides further compelling evidence for the need to mitigate climate change and instigate actions to reduce marine heatwaves.
Gardner, SG, Camp, EF, Smith, DJ, Kahlke, T, Osman, EO, Gendron, G, Hume, BCC, Pogoreutz, C, Voolstra, CR & Suggett, DJ 2019, 'Coral microbiome diversity reflects mass coral bleaching susceptibility during the 2016 El Niño heat wave.', Ecology and Evolution, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 938-956.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
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 manag...
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: UTS OPUS or 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: UTS OPUS or 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.
Gardner, SG, Raina, J-B, Nitschke, MR, Nielsen, DA, Stat, M, Motti, CA, Ralph, PJ & Petrou, K 2017, 'A multi-trait systems approach reveals a response cascade to bleaching in corals', BMC BIOLOGY, vol. 15.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Gardner, SG, Raina, J-B, Ralph, PJ & Petrou, K 2017, 'Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and dimethylated sulphur compounds in coral explants under acute thermal stress.', Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 220, no. Pt 10, pp. 1787-1791.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Coral bleaching is intensifying with global climate change. Although the causes for these catastrophic events are well understood, the cellular mechanism that triggers bleaching is not well established. Our understanding of coral bleaching processes is hindered by the lack of robust methods for studying interactions between host and symbiont at the single-cell level. Here, we exposed coral explants to acute thermal stress and measured oxidative stress, more specifically, reactive oxygen species (ROS), in individual symbiont cells. Furthermore, we measured concentrations of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP) and dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO) to elucidate the role of these compounds in coral antioxidant function. This work demonstrates the application of coral explants for investigating coral physiology and biochemistry under thermal stress and delivers a new approach to study host-symbiont interactions at the microscale, allowing us to directly link intracellular ROS with DMSP and DMSO dynamics.
Gardner, SG, Nielsen, DA, Laczka, O, Shimmon, R, Beltran, VH, Ralph, PJ & Petrou, K 2016, 'Dimethylsulfoniopropionate, superoxide dismutase and glutathione as stress response indicators in three corals under short-term hyposalinity stress', PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, vol. 283, no. 1824.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site