Coral physiological adaptations to air exposure: Heat shock and oxidative stress responses in Veretillum cynomorium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Intertidal environments are boundaries between marine and terrestrial systems and are subject to rapid fluctuations in physical characteristics across tidal cycles. Although extreme low-tide, air exposure (hypoxia),high-irradiance and thermal stress are structuring forces of intertidal coral communities, some octocoralshave developed the ability to withstand emersion. Here, we investigated, for the first time, the physiologicalmechanisms that enable an octocoral, Veretillum cynomorium, to tolerate the rapid cyclical fluctuations of theintertidal environment. A significant increase in expression of two molecular chaperones, heat shock cognate70 (HSC70) and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70), was observed throughout the emersion period, which wasthen followed by a drop during immersion. An opposite trend was observed for the peroxidase activity, asthere was no malondialdehyde (MDA) build-up in coral tissues during air exposure. Thus, coral tissueswere not subjected to any peroxidative damage during air exposure. Additionally, during the emersionphase, there was a significant increase in CAT and GST activities, whereas SOD activity remained stable. Altogether, our results suggest that HSC70/HSP70, CAT and GST constitute an integrated response duringoxygen-restricted periods. In fact, this strategy may constitute an anticipatory protective response to the oxidative stress caused by the reoxygenation event. The present study constitutes the first evidence of cellularpreparation to post-hypoxic free radical damage in octocorals, and we argue that such physiological strategycan allow these organisms to thrive in intertidal habitats and withstand air exposure during low tides
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)35-41
JournalJournal Of Experimental Marine Biology And Ecology
Issue numberNA
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Cite this