Extracellular production and degradation of superoxide in the coral stylophora pistillata and cultured symbiodinium

Eldad Saragosti, Dan Tchernov, Adi Katsir, Yeala Shaked

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are thought to play a major role in cell death pathways and bleaching in scleractinian corals. Direct measurements of ROS in corals are conspicuously in short supply, partly due to inherent problems with ROS quantification in cellular systems. Methodology/Principal Findings: In this study we characterized the dynamics of the reactive oxygen species superoxide anion radical (O2-) in the externalmilieu of the coral Stylophora pistillata. Using a sensitive, rapid and selective chemiluminesence-based technique, we measured extracellular superoxide production and detoxification activity of symbiont (non-bleached) and aposymbiont (bleached) corals, and of cultured Symbiodinium (from clades A and C). Bleached and non-bleached Stylophora fragments were found to produce superoxide at comparable rates of 10-11-109 mol O2-mg protein-1 min-1 in the dark. In the light, a two-fold enhancement in O2-production rates was observed in non-bleached corals, but not in bleached corals. Cultured Symbiodinium produced superoxide in the dark at a rate of 10-18-10-16 mol O2 {cell{1min{1. Light was found to markedly enhance O2-production. The NADPH Oxidase inhibitor Diphenyleneiodonium chloride (DPI) strongly inhibited O2-production by corals (and more moderately by algae), possibly suggesting an involvement of NADPH Oxidase in the process. An extracellular O2-detoxifying activity was found for bleached and non-bleached Stylophora but not for Symbiodinium. The O2-detoxifying activity was partially characterized and found to resemble that of the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Conclusions/Significance: The findings of substantial extracellular O2-production as well as extracellular O2-detoxifying activity may shed light on the chemical interactions between the symbiont and its host and between the coral and its environment. Superoxide production by Symbiodinium possibly implies that algal bearing corals are more susceptible to an internal build-up of O2-, which may in turn be linked to oxidative stress mediated bleaching.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12508
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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