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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms






Increased ocean warming is causing detrimental impacts to tropical corals worldwide. Compounding the effects of heat stress, incidences of tropical coral disease have risen concurrently. While tropical coral responses to these impacts are well studied, temperate coral responses remain largely unknown. The present study focused on the immune response of the temperate coral Astrangia poculata to increased temperature and disease. Symbiotic and aposymbiotic A. poculata were collected from Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island (USA) in summer and winter seasons and exposed to control (18°C) versus elevated temperatures (26°C) in the presence of an immune stimulant (i.e. lipopolysaccharide) for a 12 h period. Prophenoloxidase (PPO) and melanin concentrations from the melanin-synthesis pathway were assessed via spectrophotometry to examine immune responses. While PPO measurements were higher on average in symbiotic corals compared with aposymbiotic corals, temperature and season did not significantly affect this metric. Melanin was significantly higher in symbiotic compared to aposymbiotic corals, implying that symbiotic state may be important for melanin-synthesis response. Conversely, melanin as an immune response may be of less importance in aposymbiotic A. poculata due to the potential capacity of other immune responses in this species. In addition, differences in resource allocation to immune investment as a result of symbiosis is plausible given melanin production observed within the present study. However, thermal stressors may reduce the overall influence of symbiosis on melanin production. Future studies should build upon these results to further understand the entirety of innate immunity responses in temperate coral species.


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Original Publication Citation

Harman, T. E., Barshis, D. J., Hauff Salas, B., Hamsher, S. E., & Strychar, K. B. (2022). Indications of symbiotic state influencing melanin-synthesis immune response in the facultative coral Astrangia poculata. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 151, 63-74.


0000-0003-1510-8375 (Barshis)

Available for download on Wednesday, September 29, 2027


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