Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 11, pp 2209–2220 | Cite as

Implication of nitric oxide in the heat-stress-induced cell death of the symbiotic alga Symbiodinium microadriaticum

  • Josée Nina BouchardEmail author
  • Hideo Yamasaki
Original Paper


One of the major consequences of global warming is a rise in sea surface temperature which may affect the survival of marine organisms including phytoplankton. Here, we provide experimental evidence for heat-induced cell death in a symbiotic microalga. Shifting Symbiodinium microadriaticum from 27 to 32°C resulted in an increase in mortality, an increase in caspase 3-like activity, and an increase in nitric oxide (NO) production. The caspase-like activity was strongly correlated with the production of NO in thermally challenged microalgae. For this experiment, the application of Ac-DEVD-CHO, a mammalian caspase 3-specific inhibitor, partly prevented (by 65%) the increase in caspase-like activity. To verify the relationship between NO and the caspase-like activity, S. microadriaticum were subsequently incubated with 1.0 mM of the following chemical NO donors: sodium nitroprusside (SNP), S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO), S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP) and 3,3bis(Aminoethyl)-1-hydroxy-2-oxo-1-triazene (NOC-18). The supplementation of both SNP and NOC-18 caused a significant increase in caspase-like activity compared to the control treatment. Pre-treatment of the microalgae with the inhibitor Ac-DEVD-CHO before the supplementation of the different NO donors completely prevented the increase in caspase-like activity. These results suggest that NO could play a role in the induction of cell death in heat-stressed S. microadriaticum by mediating an increase in caspase-like activity.


Nitric Oxide Phytoplankton Microalgae Programme Cell Death Dinoflagellate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Hydrogen peroxide


Nitric oxide






Programmed cell death


Reactive oxygen intermediates



This work was made possible by a JSPS postdoctoral fellowship granted to J.N.B and by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, Japan to H.Y.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ScienceUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan
  2. 2.National Oceanography CentreUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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