Oxidative stress on scleractinian coral fragments following exposure to high temperature and low salinity

M. Dias, Carolina Madeira, N. Jogee, Ana Ferreira, Raúl Gouveia, Henrique Cabral, Mário Diniz, Catarina Vinagre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Global warming is leading to both increases in frequency and intensity of tropical storms, with consequent salinity decrease at shallow reef areas, but also to mass bleaching events and mortality of reef-building corals around the world. Tropical storms can help reef-building corals to reproduce through fragmentation, allowing their expansion throughout the reefs. The combination of high temperature and low salinity may aggravate the effects of coral bleaching. Investigation of alterations at the cellular level will be useful since this is the first detectable response of organisms to changes in environmental conditions. In this study, the long-term oxidative stress induced by elevated temperature (30 °C), low salinity (20 psu), and their combination was studied on fragments of reef-forming corals, and compared to control conditions (26 °C, 33 psu). Determination of oxidative stress biomarkers: lipid peroxidation (LPO); superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione S-transferase (GST) activities in a long-term experiment (60 days), using nine Indo-Pacific reef-forming coral species, provided useful information that was interpreted in combination with the observed general condition of these organisms (appearance: normal, pale, bleached, dead). High temperature affected the general condition of the species tested to a lower degree than did low salinity. Only two species died at high temperature, while low salinity resulted in the death of all species with the exception of two (P. contigua and G. fascicularis). Oxidative damage was detected in some species, as were antioxidant responses, at high temperature. Coral general condition was severely affected in all species in the low salinity treatment. Galaxea fascicularis and Psammocora contigua were the most resistant to salinity stress, having survived the experimental treatment. Oxidative damage was not detected in these species, but there was an antioxidant response. The high temperature + low salinity (HT + LS) treatment had synergistic effects in the condition of all species. Galaxea fascicularis was the only survivor in the HT + LS treatment. Mortality was high (60%) for this species, oxidative damage was not detected, but an increase in SOD activity revealed an antioxidant response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105586
JournalEcological Indicators
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Coral conservation
  • Global climate change
  • Heat stress
  • Hyposaline stress
  • Oxidative stress biomarkers


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