Microbial Ecology

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 1000–1007 | Cite as

Variations in Reactive Oxygen Release and Antioxidant Activity in Multiple Symbiodinium Types in Response to Elevated Temperature

  • Elizabeth S. McGinty
  • Jenna Pieczonka
  • Laura D. Mydlarz
Environmental Microbiology


As ocean temperatures rise, investigations into what the physiological effects will be on the symbiotic microalga Symbiodinium, and how these may play into the cnidarian bleaching response, have highlighted the contribution of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Previous studies have laid this groundwork using a limited number of Symbiodinium phylotypes, and so this study aims to expand this understanding by exploring the effects of sub-lethal elevated temperatures on the physiological response of seven genetically distinct types of Symbiodinium, including A1, B1, B2, C1, D, E1, and F2. The production of ROS (at 26 °C, 29 °C, 30 °C, and 31 °C) and activity of the antioxidants catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) (at 26 °C and 31 °C) were measured as indicators of sensitivity or tolerance to heat stress. Symbiodinium types B1 and C1 were the most thermally sensitive, with C1 producing the highest amount of ROS at elevated temperatures. Types A1 and F2 were tolerant, having no increase in ROS production, and were the only types to increase both CAT and SOD activity with temperature stress. Type B2 had decreased ROS production and elevation of CAT activity, while type E1 had decreased levels of ROS production at elevated temperatures. Type D was the only Symbiodinium type to remain unaffected by elevated temperatures. These results are consistent with previous findings of relative sensitivity or tolerance to elevated temperatures, specifically with regards to types A1, B1, and F2. The inclusion of types B2, C1, D, and E1 provides further new evidence of how types differ in their thermal responses, suggesting differing mechanisms exist in the Symbiodnium response to higher temperature and highlighting the importance of establishing symbiont identity when exploring the response of intact associations to this type of stress.


Reactive Oxygen Species Internal Transcribe Spacer Reactive Oxygen Species Production Increase Reactive Oxygen Species Production High Reactive Oxygen Species 
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


Internal transcribed spacer-2


Superoxide anion


Reactive oxygen species


Superoxide dismutase



The authors would like to acknowledge funding from UTA start-up funds, UTA Research Enhancement Program and NSF # 1017458 (to LDM). The authors would like to thank Todd LaJeunesse (Pennsylvania State University) and Scott Santos (Auburn University) for generously providing Symbiodinium cultures, and James Drake, Regina Roy and Whitney T. Mann (University of Texas at Arlington) for experimental support. Comments by David J. Suggett, Robert F. McMahon, Christian L. Cox, Caroline V. Palmer, Whitney T. Mann and two anonymous reviewers have significantly improved this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth S. McGinty
    • 1
  • Jenna Pieczonka
    • 1
  • Laura D. Mydlarz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA

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