Coral Reefs

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 41–53

Dynamics of lipid and fatty acid composition of shallow-water corals under thermal stress: an experimental approach


DOI: 10.1007/s00338-011-0817-4

Cite this article as:
Imbs, A.B. & Yakovleva, I.M. Coral Reefs (2012) 31: 41. doi:10.1007/s00338-011-0817-4


Coral bleaching induces changes in lipid and fatty acid composition that result in low lipid content, reducing the likelihood of coral survival. Species-specific differences in the metabolism of lipid reserves may contribute to the differential resistance of corals under acute heat exposures. Here, we examined the dynamics of lipids and fatty acid abundance in corals subjected to short-term heat stress. The stony corals Acropora intermedia, Montipora digitata, and the soft coral Sinularia capitalis all showed a 60–75% decline in both storage and structural lipids. However, S. capitalis and M. digitata exhibited no significant change in the percentages of structural lipids (i.e., polar lipids and sterols) until they had lost 90–95% of their endosymbionts, whereas A. intermedia showed a rapid decline in structural lipids after a 50% loss of symbionts. After a 90–95% loss of symbionts under heat stress, all three corals showed a relative depletion of polyunsaturated fatty acids that had symbiont biomarkers, suggesting that polyunsaturated fatty acids were translocated from the symbiont to the coral host tissue.


Heat stressLipidsFatty acidsCoral bleachingLipid transferZooxanthellae

Supplementary material

338_2011_817_MOESM1_ESM.doc (294 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 294 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.A. V. Zhirmunsky Institute of Marine BiologyFar Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of SciencesVladivostokRussia