, Volume 759, Issue 1, pp 15–26 | Cite as

Light-dependent fluorescence in the coral Galaxea fascicularis

  • Or Ben-ZviEmail author
  • Gal Eyal
  • Yossi Loya


Light in the sea is one of the major factors influencing corals, with changes in light being rapid along the depth gradient. Those changes can be a potential stress factor for coral-reef organisms and affect different aspects of the coral’s physiology, including its fluorescence. Fluorescence is a physical phenomenon, comprising the emission of light by a substance that has absorbed light with a different wavelength. Major hypotheses concerning the role of coral fluorescence include that of photoprotection and the facilitation of photosynthesis. We sought to further investigate some ecophysiological aspects of coral fluorescence. We focused on the effect of different light conditions on fluorescence of the coral Galaxea fascicularis and used photography, confocal microscopy, and spectral measurements to assess changes in its fluorescence. We show that fluorescence is significantly influenced by light and, therefore, by depth. Coral fluorescence increased with the increase in light intensity and when the spectrum of light was broader. Hence, we support the “sunscreen” hypothesis and conclude that fluorescence plays a role in the coral’s defense mechanism against harmful radiation. However, multiple fluorescent proteins, as found in different locations of the coral tissue, might suggest more than one functional role of fluorescence in the coral’s physiology.


Fluorescence Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) Galaxea fascicularis GFP Coral Red Sea 



We would like to thank the staff of The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat (IUI) for making the facilities of the lab available to us. We are grateful to Nadav Shashar and Amit Lerner for their help with the spectral measurements, Maoz Fine for his help with the coral physiology tests, Ofri Mann for his help with the statistical analysis, Naomi Paz for the proofreading, and all of YL’s lab members for their support in the various tasks of this study. This research was partially funded by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grant No. 341/12 and USAID/MERC grant No. M32-037 to YL.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.The Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in EilatEilatIsrael

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