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Enzyme activity demonstrates multiple pathways of innate immunity in Indo-Pacific anthozoans

Lookup NU author(s): Caroline Palmer, Professor John BythellORCiD


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Coral reefs are threatened by increasing levels of coral disease and the functional loss of obligate algal symbionts (bleaching). Levels of immunity relate directly to susceptibility to these threats; however, our understanding of fundamental aspects of coral immunology is lacking. We show that three melanin-synthesis pathway components (mono-phenoloxidase, ortho-diphenoloxidase (tyrosinase-type pathway) and para-diphenoloxidase (laccase-type pathway)) are present in both their active (phenoloxidase, PO) and inactive (prophenoloxidase, PPO) forms across a diverse range of 22 species of healthy Indo-Pacific anthozoans. We also demonstrate transglutaminase activity of the coagulation cascade for, to our knowledge, the first time in a coral. Melanin-synthesis enzyme activities varied among taxa, although they were generally lowest in the coral family Acroporidae and highest in the Poritidae and Oculinidae. Inactive tyrosinase-type activity (PPO) and active laccase-type activity (PO) correlate with taxonomic patterns in disease resistance, whereas the converse pattern in activity levels correlates with bleaching resistance. Overall, we demonstrate the presence of several melanin-synthesis pathways in Indo-Pacific corals, co-regulation among some pathway components, and highlight their potential roles in coral health.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Palmer CV, Bythell JC, Willis BL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Year: 2012

Volume: 279

Issue: 1743

Pages: 3879-3887

Print publication date: 22/09/2012

ISSN (print): 0962-8452

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2954

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2487


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Funder referenceFunder name
Australian Research Council (ARC)
NE/E006949/1Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)