Proximity to competitors changes secondary metabolites of non-indigenous cup corals, Tubastraea spp., in the southwest Atlantic
Competition for space changes species’ distributions and community organization on tropical rocky shores, and the presence of secondary metabolites in the tissues of non-indigenous species may aid them in establishing and expanding their range through negative competitive interactions. The aim of this study was to describe the range of chemical substances produced by the non-indigenous cup corals Tubastraea coccinea and T. tagusensis and to test whether they varied in the field when the corals were placed in proximity to two local competitors. Cholest-5-en-3β-ol and 9-octadecanoic acid were two common secondary metabolites found in the tissues of Tubastraea. In the competition interaction experiment, necrosis was detected on the tissues of the coral Mussismilia hispida, and this species induced variation in sterol, alkaloid, and fatty acid production in Tubastraea tissues. In contrast, a sponge overgrew Tubastraea colonies. These results indicate that chemical defense may contribute to the ability of these non-indigenous corals to invade native communities.
KeywordsSponge Secondary Metabolite Soft Coral Partial Little Square Discriminant Analysis Receptor Community
The authors express their gratitude to N. P. Arruda and E. Petronilho for their assistance with the Unscrambler program. We would like to thank L. Vidal and A. F. de Paula for assistance in the field. We also thank the students and researchers who contributed to the present study with assistance in the laboratory and the staff at the Center for Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development—CEADS/UERJ for the use of facilities. BGL gratefully acknowledges Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ), which provided a doctoral scholarship; JCC acknowledges financial support of the Programa de Incentivo à Produção Científica, Técnica e Artística, UERJ and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, a grant from FAPERJ No. E-25/170669/2004 and sponsorship from Petrobras throught the Programa Petrobras Ambiental. BGF acknowledges financial support from Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior/Ciências do Mar 1137/2010. We also thank those who reviewed earlier versions of the manuscript.
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