Long term photoacclimation responses of the coral Stylophora pistillata to reciprocal deep to shallow transplantation: Photosynthesis and calcification

Itay Cohen, Zvy Dubinsky

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48 Scopus citations


Reciprocal transplantation of Stylophora pistillata coral fragments between deep (30 m) and shallow sites (3 m) was conducted gradually and resulted with 100% survival. Photoacclimation of transplants at both depths showed two distinct phases: at the first phase, within 2 weeks, zooxanthellae density decreased below (at 3 m) and increased beyond (at 30 m) these of the control values at the new depth, while chlorophyll a per zooxanthellae cell remained as in the original depths, thereby fully adjusting areal chlorophyll concentration. On the second phase, after 6 months, zooxanthellae chlorophyll and their quantum yield (Fv/Fm) were adjusted at both new depths. Such regulated acclimation was also observed in the maximal photosynthesis rate of both transplants, whereas respiration adjustment was rapid. These results differ from previously reported rapid shade and light acclimation strategies hence we suggest that acclimation mechanism changes when certain symbiont type is exposed to depth out of its boundary zone. Despite seemingly having become physiologically acclimated, calcification at both new depths was only half the rate achieved by the controls, suggesting that the coral host requires even longer time than the symbionts to acclimate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Cohen and Dubinsky.


Special thanks to Noa Moshkowitz for the assistance with the statistical analyses and to Ofri Mann for creating the hyperbolic tangent model. We are grateful to Dana Nahum Cohen for the assistance in data collection, Ms. A. Goldreich for the meticulous editing and to Oded Ben-Shaprut for planning the dives and to the staff of the Interuniversity institute in Eilat, Israel. This study was performed under permit No. 2004/20265 of the nature reservation authority and was supported by Israel Science Foundation grant number 408/03-17.3, NATO grant number SFP 981883 and by grant EU FP7 European Research Council 309646 and grant Horizon 2020 European Research Council PoC 639304 to Z. D.

FundersFunder number
Dana Nahum Cohen
Horizon 2020 European Research Council
Interuniversity institute in Eilat, Israel2004/20265
North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationSFP 981883
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme639304, 309646
European Research Council
Israel Science Foundation408/03-17.3


    • Calcification
    • Photoacclimation
    • Photosynthesis
    • Survival
    • Symbiosis


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