Irradiance driven trophic plasticity in the coral Madracis pharensis from the Eastern Mediterranean

Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, Stephane Martinez, Jessica Bellworthy, Alex Chequer, Hagai Nativ, Tali Mass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The distribution of symbiotic scleractinian corals is driven, in part, by light availability, as host energy demands are partially met through translocation of photosynthate. Physiological plasticity in response to environmental conditions, such as light, enables the expansion of resilient phenotypes in the face of changing environmental conditions. Here we compared the physiology, morphology, and taxonomy of the host and endosymbionts of individual Madracis pharensis corals exposed to dramatically different light conditions based on colony orientation on the surface of a shipwreck at 30 m depth in the Bay of Haifa, Israel. We found significant differences in symbiont species consortia, photophysiology, and stable isotopes, suggesting that these corals can adjust multiple aspects of host and symbiont physiology in response to light availability. These results highlight the potential of corals to switch to a predominantly heterotrophic diet when light availability and/or symbiont densities are too low to sustain sufficient photosynthesis, which may provide resilience for corals in the face of climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3646
JournalScientific Reports
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 13 Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.

Funding

This work was supported by funds from the United States National Science Foundation and United States—Israel Binational Science Foundation (NSF #1937770 to GG-G and BSF #2019653 to TM), the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, Israel (to TM), and the European Union Assemble Plus program (#11768 to GG-G). We extend our continued gratitude to the support staff at the Morris Kahn Marine Science Center for assistance with field work and preparation. This work was supported by funds from the United States National Science Foundation and United States—Israel Binational Science Foundation (NSF #1937770 to GG-G and BSF #2019653 to TM), the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, Israel (to TM), and the European Union Assemble Plus program (#11768 to GG-G). We extend our continued gratitude to the support staff at the Morris Kahn Marine Science Center for assistance with field work and preparation.

FundersFunder number
Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, Israel
Morris Kahn Marine Science Center
National Science Foundation1937770
European Commission11768
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation2019653

    Keywords

    • Coral symbiosis
    • Mesophotic
    • Morphology
    • Photophysiology
    • Stable Isotopes

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