Increasing pCO2 correlates with low concentrations of intracellular dimethylsulfoniopropionate in the sea anemone Anemonia viridis

Esther M. Borell, Michael Steinke, Rael Horwitz, Maoz Fine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marine anthozoans maintain a mutualistic symbiosis with dinoflagellates that are prolific producers of the algal secondary metabolite dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), the precursor of the climate-cooling trace gas dimethyl sulfide (DMS). Surprisingly, little is known about the physiological role of DMSP in anthozoans and the environmental factors that regulate its production. Here, we assessed the potential functional role of DMSP as an antioxidant and determined how future increases in seawater pCO2 may affect DMSP concentrations in the anemone Anemonia viridis along a natural pCO2 gradient at the island of Vulcano, Italy. There was no significant difference in zooxanthellae genotype and characteristics (density of zooxanthellae, and chlorophyll a) as well as protein concentrations between anemones from three stations along the gradient, V1 (3232 μatm CO2), V2 (682 μatm) and control (463 μatm), which indicated that A. viridis can acclimate to various seawater pCO2. In contrast, DMSP concentrations in anemones from stations V1 (33.23 ± 8.30 fmol cell-1) and V2 (34.78 ± 8.69 fmol cell-1) were about 35% lower than concentrations in tentacles from the control station (51.85 ± 12.96 fmol cell-1). Furthermore, low tissue concentrations of DMSP coincided with low activities of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). Superoxide dismutase activity for both host (7.84 ± 1.37 U·mg-1 protein) and zooxanthellae (2.84 ± 0.41 U·mg-1 protein) at V1 was 40% lower than at the control station (host: 13.19 ± 1.42; zooxanthellae: 4.72 ± 0.57 U·mg-1 protein). Our results provide insight into coastal DMSP production under predicted environmental change and support the function of DMSP as an antioxidant in symbiotic anthozoans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-449
Number of pages9
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • CO vent
  • Chlorophyll
  • DMSP
  • Primary research article
  • Protein
  • Superoxide dismutase
  • Zooxanthellae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


Dive into the research topics of 'Increasing pCO2 correlates with low concentrations of intracellular dimethylsulfoniopropionate in the sea anemone Anemonia viridis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this