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Evidence of an inflammatory-like response in non-normally pigmented tissues of two scleractinian corals

Lookup NU author(s): Caroline Palmer


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Increasing evidence of links between climate change, anthropogenic stress and coral disease underscores the importance of understanding the mechanisms by which reef-building corals resist infection and recover from injury. Cellular inflammation and melanin-producing signalling pathway are two mechanisms employed by invertebrates to remove foreign organisms such as pathogens, but they have not been recorded previously in scleractinian corals. This study demonstrates the presence of the phenoloxidase (PO) activating melanin pathway in two species of coral, Acropora millepora and a massive species of Porites, which both develop local pigmentation in response to interactions with a variety of organisms. L-DOPA (3-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-L-alanine) substrate-based enzyme activation assays demonstrated PO activity in healthy tissues of both species and upregulation in pigmented tissues of A. millepora. Histological staining conclusively identified the presence of melanin in Porites tissues. These results demonstrate that the PO pathway is active in both coral species. Moreover, the upregulation of PO activity in areas of non-normal pigmentation in A. millepora and increased melanin production in pigmented Porites tissues suggest the presence of a generalized defence response to localized stress. Interspecific differences in the usage of pathways involved in innate immunity may underlie the comparative success of massive Porites sp. as long-lived stress tolerators. © 2008 The Royal Society.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Palmer CV, Mydlarz LD, Willis BL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Year: 2008

Volume: 275

Issue: 1652

Pages: 2687-2693

ISSN (print): 0962-8452

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2954

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0335

PubMed id: 18700208


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