A moderate increase in seawater temperature causes coral bleaching, at least partially through photobleaching of the symbiotic algae Symbiodinium spp. Photobleaching of Symbiodinium spp. is primarily associated with the loss of light-harvesting proteins of photosystem II (PSII) and follows the inactivation of PSII under heat stress. Here, we examined the effect of increased growth temperature on the change in sensitivity of Symbiodinium spp. PSII inactivation and photobleaching under heat stress. When Symbiodinium spp. cells were grown at 25°C and 30°C, the thermal tolerance of PSII, measured by the thermal stability of the maximum quantum yield of PSII in darkness, was commonly enhanced in all six Symbiodinium spp. tested. In Symbiodinium sp. CCMP827, it took 6 h to acquire the maximum PSII thermal tolerance after transfer from 25°C to 30°C. The effect of increased growth temperature on the thermal tolerance of PSII was completely abolished by chloramphenicol, indicating that the acclimation mechanism of PSII is associated with the de novo synthesis of proteins. When CCMP827 cells were exposed to light at temperature ranging from 25°C to 35°C, the sensitivity of cells to both high temperature-induced photoinhibition and photobleaching was ameliorated by increased growth temperatures. These results demonstrate that thermal acclimation of Symbiodinium spp. helps to improve the thermal tolerance of PSII, resulting in reduced inactivation of PSII and algal photobleaching. These results suggest that whole-organism coral bleaching associated with algal photobleaching can be at least partially suppressed by the thermal acclimation of Symbiodinium spp. at higher growth temperatures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science