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'Chlorophyll-like' compounds as novel biomarkers of stress in corals

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Barbara Brown


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The appearance of 'bleached' or pale-coloured corals at numerous locations around the world over the last 3 decades has been linked to various environmental stressors. However, the role and fate of zooxanthellar pigments in response to such stress has received little attention. We provide new insights into the adaptive response of coral zooxanthellae to environmental stress, based upon the analysis of chlorophyll pigments using high performance liquid chromatography. Manipulative field experiments were used to monitor induction and recovery of the reef coral Goniastrea aspera from photo-damage. Over a 6 d period the production of up to 6 compounds with very similar light absorbance spectra to chlorophyll a (chl a) was observed. Higher concentrations of a sub-set of these products were observed in response to elevated solar radiation levels. The fact that the same chl a-like compounds were consistently observed under the same experimental conditions means that they may have significant potential as biomarkers of stress in corals and may also provide a means of 'fingerprinting' environmental stress in corals. © Inter-Research 2006.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McDougall KE, Gibb SW, Boyd KG, Brown BE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Marine Ecology Progress Series

Year: 2006

Volume: 325

Pages: 137-144

ISSN (print): 0171-8630

ISSN (electronic): 1616-1599

Publisher: Inter-Research


DOI: 10.3354/meps325137


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