Coral Reefs

, 30:763 | Cite as

Impact of feeding and short-term temperature stress on the content and isotopic signature of fatty acids, sterols, and alcohols in the scleractinian coral Turbinaria reniformis

  • I. Tolosa
  • C. Treignier
  • R. Grover
  • C. Ferrier-PagèsEmail author


This study assesses the combined effect of feeding and short-term thermal stress on various physiological parameters and on the fatty acid, sterol, and alcohol composition of the scleractinian coral Turbinaria reniformis. The compound-specific carbon isotope composition of the lipids was also measured. Under control conditions (26°C), feeding with Artemia salina significantly increased the symbiont density and chlorophyll content and the growth rates of the corals. It also doubled the concentrations of almost all fatty acid (FA) compounds and increased the n-alcohol and sterol contents. δ13C results showed that the feeding enhancement of FA concentrations occurred either via a direct pathway, for one of the major polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) compounds of the food (18:3n-3 FA), or via an enhancement of photosynthate transfer (indirect pathway), for the other coral FAs. Cholesterol (C27Δ5) was also directly acquired from the food. Thermal stress (31°C) affected corals, but differently according to their feeding status. Chlorophyll, protein content, and maximal photosynthetic efficiency of photosystem II (PSII) decreased to a greater extent in starved corals. In such corals, FA concentrations were reduced by 33%, (especially C16, C18 FAs, and n-3 PUFA) and the sterol content by 27% (especially the C285,22 and C285). The enrichment in the δ13C signature of the storage and structural FAs suggests that they were the main compounds respired during the stress to maintain the coral metabolism. Thermal stress had less effect on the lipid concentrations of fed corals, as only FA levels were reduced by 13%, with no major changes in their isotope carbon signatures. In conclusion, feeding plays an essential role in sustaining T. reniformis metabolism during the thermal stress.


Lipid Coral nutrition Coral physiology Bleaching Heterotrophy δ13



The IAEA is grateful for the support provided to its Marine Environment Laboratories by the Government of the Principality of Monaco.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Tolosa
    • 1
  • C. Treignier
    • 2
  • R. Grover
    • 2
  • C. Ferrier-Pagès
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Marine Environment LaboratoriesInternational Atomic Energy AgencyMonacoPrincipality of Monaco
  2. 2.Centre Scientifique de MonacoMonacoPrincipality of Monaco

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