Lipid class composition of annually bleached Caribbean corals
Corals with high levels of total lipids are known to have increased resilience potential to bleaching, and lipid class management may shed further light on why some species are more resilient to, or are able to acclimatize to, annual bleaching stress. Here, we measured the lipid class composition of three species of Caribbean corals (Porites astreoides, Porites divaricata, and Orbicella faveolata) collected in July 2009 near Puerto Morelos, Mexico (20° 50′ N, 86° 52′ W) that were experimentally bleached 2 years in a row. Our results show that single bleaching can significantly alter lipid class composition in all species, while repeated bleaching can result in stable (i.e., acclimatized) or even more altered (i.e., not acclimatized) lipid class composition depending on the species. Specifically, P. divaricata and O. faveolata both had altered lipid class composition with losses in storage lipids following single bleaching, but maintained lipid class composition following repeated bleaching stress. However, both single and repeated bleaching altered the lipid class composition in P. astreoides, with changes persisting for the 6 weeks after repeated bleaching stress. This study provides evidence that lipid class management is part of the suite of variables associated with coral resilience, that P. divaricata and O. faveolata acclimatize their lipid class management in response to repeated bleaching stress, but that P. astreoides does not. Corals like P. divaricata and O. faveolata may, therefore, be more suitable for coral restoration efforts since they are more likely to persist under chronic repeat bleaching scenarios predicted for later this century.
We thank Roberto Iglesias-Prieto, Ania Banaszak, Susana Enriquez, Robin Smith, and the staff of the Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México for their generous time and logistical support. We also thank Teresa Huey and Dana Borg for their field and laboratory help. We thank the reviewers for their comments and suggestions. Sarah Solomon was a student in Andréa Grottoli’s lab during the execution of this research.
This study was funded by the National Science Foundation (OCE#0825490 to A.G.G., OCE#0825413 to M.E.W) and the Hoover Foundation (to A.G.G.).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
No competing interests declared.
All collections and experiments were conducted following the rules and regulations of Mexico and imported to the USA under CITES permits held by UNAM-ICML and the Ohio State University.
- Clarke K, Gorley R (2006) Primer v6: user manual/turorial, v6 edn. PRIMER-E Ltd, PlymouthGoogle Scholar
- Hoegh-Guldberg O (1999) Climate change, coral bleaching and the future of the world’s coral reefs. Mar Freshw Res 50:839–866Google Scholar
- Liu G, Strong AE, Skirving W, Arzayus LF (2006) Overview of NOAA coral reef watch program’s near-real time satellite global coral bleaching monitoring activities. In: Proceedings of the 10th international coral reef symposium, Okinawa, pp 1783–1793Google Scholar
- Niebuhr DH (1999) Environmental stress in hard coral: Evaluating lipid as an indicator of sub-lethal stress on short time scales. Dissertation, Coll of William and Mary Diss, Theses, and Masters Proj Paper 1539616794. https://doi.org/10.25773/v5-sv8z-2g73
- NOAA Coral Reef Watch (2000) NOAA Coral Reef Watch Virtual Station for Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, Jan. 1, 2001–Dec. 31, 2010, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA: NOAA Coral Reef Watch. https://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/vs/data.php. Accessed 1 Sept 2019
- Oku H, Yamashiro H, Onaga K, Sakai K, Iwasaki H (2003) Seasonal changes in the content and composition of lipids in the coral Goniastrea aspera. Coral Reefs 22:83–85Google Scholar
- Spicer J, Gaston K (2009) Physiological diversity: ecological implications. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
- Stimson JS (1987) Location, quantity and rate of change in quantity of lipids in tissue of Hawaiian hermatypic corals. Bull Mar Sci 41:889–904Google Scholar
- Wilkinson C, Hodgson G (1999) Coral reefs and the 1997–1998 mass bleaching and mortality. Nat Resour 35:16–25Google Scholar