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Programmed cell death and cell necrosis activity during hyperthermic stress-induced bleaching of the symbiotic sea anemone Aiptasia sp.

Lookup NU author(s): Simon Dunn, Professor John BythellORCiD, Dr Martin Le Tissier, Dr William Burnett, Dr Jeremy Thomason


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Different cell death pathways were investigated during bleaching in the sea anemone Aiptasia sp. in response to hyperthermic treatment. Using a suite of techniques, (haematoxylin and eosin staining of paraffin wax-embedded tissue sections, in-situ end labelling (ISEL) of fragmented DNA, agarose gel electrophoresis electron microscopy) both necrotic and programmed cell death (PCD) activity were indicated. After a treatment period of 4 days, the host endoderm tissues underwent necrotic cell death. This was indicated by widespread cellular degradation, dilation of cell cytoplasm and organelles, cell swelling and rupture, irregular pyknotic condensation of nuclear chromatin, and abundant cell debris. Host cell necrosis was associated with the release of zooxanthellae with a normal, healthy appearance into the coelenteron. Longer periods of hyperthermic treatment (7 days) were correlated with further animal cell degradation and the in-situ degradation of zooxanthellae remaining within the degraded endoderm. Within the same degraded endoderm tissue, the degradation of zooxanthellae resulted from two forms of cell death occurring simultaneously, which were identified as programmed cell death and cell necrosis. Programmed cell death of zooxanthellae was characterised by condensation of the cytoplasm and organelles, cell shrinkage, formation of accumulation bodies at the periphery of the cell wall, and DNA fragmentation. Cell necrosis of zooxanthellae was characterised by dilation of the cytoplasm and organelles, cell swelling and lysis, dispersion of cell component debris, and DNA fragmentation. The existence of a programmed cell death pathway within zooxanthellae is important to the understanding of coral bleaching events, raising interesting questions regarding the evolution of this process and the activation of the cellular trigger mechanisms involved. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dunn SR, Bythell JC, Le Tissier MDA, Burnett WJ, Thomason JC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

Year: 2002

Volume: 272

Issue: 1

Pages: 29-53

ISSN (print): 0022-0981

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/S0022-0981(02)00036-9


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