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Morphological alterations of zooxanthellae in bleached cnidarian hosts
Ladriere, O.; Compere, P.; Decloux, N.; Vandewalle, P.; Poulicek, M. (2008). Morphological alterations of zooxanthellae in bleached cnidarian hosts. Cah. Biol. Mar. 49(3): 215-227
In: Cahiers de Biologie Marine. Station Biologique de Roscoff: Paris. ISSN 0007-9723; e-ISSN 2262-3094, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Cnidaria [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    zooxanthellae; ultrastructure; alterations; symbiosis; coral bleaching;

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  • Vandewalle, P., more
  • Poulicek, M., more

    Studying the morphological changes of zooxanthellae in the host gastroderm is essential to understand the mechanisms of bleaching. Transmission electron microscopy was used to observe samples from four coral species-three collected from a barrier reef in Madagascar (Acropora digitifera (Dana, 1846), Echinopora hirsutissima Milne-Edwards & Haime, 1849 and Porites (Synaraea) rus Forskal, 1775)) and one cut from an aquarium-grown coral (Pocillopora damicornis (Linnaeus, 1758)-and from the hermatypic (zooxanthellae-containing) sea anemone Aiptasia pulchella (Carlgren, 1943). Zooxanthellae from bleached animals showed different stages of degradation or disorganization. Some were free, detached from the host gastroderm, associated or not with host-cell remains. Others were vacuolated, with abundant reserve material globules and angular holes probably created by the loss of crystalline material during cutting. Experimentally heat-shocked P. damicornis harboured, moreover, a greater number of dividing algae. Bleached individuals were found to vary as regards their response to stress, and zooxanthellae expelled from heat-shocked anemones showed a greater mitotic index and a higher survival rate than algae extracted or naturally externalized from healthy individuals. We propose a combination of morphological criteria for use in diagnosing the health state of algae-cnidarian symbiosis, so vulnerable in the case of bleaching.

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