Relative Contributions of Various Cellular Mechanisms to Loss of Algae during Cnidarian Bleaching.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

When exposed to stress such as high seawater temperature, corals and other cnidarians can bleach due to loss of symbiotic algae from the host tissue and/or loss of pigments from the algae. Although the environmental conditions that trigger bleaching are reasonably well known, its cellular and molecular mechanisms are not well understood. Previous studies have reported the occurrence of at least four different cellular mechanisms for the loss of symbiotic algae from the host tissue: in situ degradation of algae, exocytic release of algae from the host, detachment of host cells containing algae, and death of host cells containing algae. The relative contributions of these several mechanisms to bleaching remain unclear, and it is also not known whether these relative contributions change in animals subjected to different types and/or durations of stresses. In this study, we used a clonal population of the small sea anemone Aiptasia, exposed individuals to various precisely controlled stress conditions, and quantitatively assessed the several possible bleaching mechanisms in parallel. Under all stress conditions tested, except for acute cold shock at 4°C, expulsion of intact algae from the host cells appeared to be by far the predominant mechanism of bleaching. During acute cold shock, in situ degradation of algae and host-cell detachment also became quantitatively significant, and the algae released under these conditions appeared to be severely damaged.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bieri, T; Onishi, M; Xiang, T; Grossman, AR; Pringle, JR

Published Date

  • January 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 11 / 4

Start / End Page

  • e0152693 -

PubMed ID

  • 27119147

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4847765

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0152693


  • eng