Masuda et al. 1993

scientific article | Mar Biol

Adaptation of solitary corals and their zooxanthellae to low light and UV radiation

Masuda K, Goto M, Maruyama T, Miyachi S


Adaptation of solitary corals, Fungia repanda and F. echinata, and their zooxanthellae to low light and ultraviolet light B (UV-B) was studied with respect to changes in their protein contents, photosynthetic pigment contents and the photosynthesis-irradiance (P-I) curves. The corals were collected from 1 to 50 m depths in the Republic of Belau (Paulau) in 1990 and 1991. The chlorophyll a content in a unit surface area of the coral did not change significantly with the depth of the habitat, whereas cellular chlorophyll a in the algae increased with the depth. Zooxanthellae density and protein content in a unit surface area of Fungia spp. decreased with the depth. Photosynthetic parameters normalized by a unit surface area of the Fungia spp., maximum gross photosynthetic rate (Pgmax area-1) and dark respiration rate (R area-1), were negatively correlated with the depth, while initial slope of the P-I curve (α) did not show significant correlation with the depth. Compensation light intensity (Ic) decreased with the depth. In isolated zooxanthellae, Pmax chl a-1, and R chl a-1 decreased with the depth, while αchl a was constant. Pgmax cell-1 and R cell-1 did not change significantly but αcell increased with the depth. Ic decreased with the depth as in the intact corals. Reduction of protein content in a unit area of the coral from deeper habitat implies decrease of host animal tissues. Reduction of Ic can be explained by decrease of R area-1, which may be due to the diminution of animal tissues. The photoadaptational response to low light intensity of intact Fungia spp. was found to be a combination of the photoadaptation of symbiotic algae and the decrease of host animal tissue. In order to study their adaptation to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, P-I curves of Fungia spp. and isolated zooxanthellae were analyzed before and after UV-B irradiation. 1 h UV-B irradiation showed no effect on the photosynthetic rate of the shallow water (1 m) corals, while it inhibited the photosynthesis of the deep water (30 m) corals and zooxanthellae isolated from both shallow and deep water corals. These results indicate that the host, Fungia spp., in shallow water have protective mechanism for intense UV-B in their habitat. These photoadaptational mechanisms seem to allow the Fungia spp. to have wide vertical distribution where light intensity spans more than two orders of magnitude.

Depth range
1- 50 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
0 x (total of 5118 words)

* Presents original data
* Focused on 'mesophotic' depth range
* Focused on 'mesophotic coral ecosystem'


Scleractinia (Hard Corals)
Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae)

Micronesia - Caroline Islands (Pohnpei)
Republic of Palau

SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)

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