Disruptions in photorespiration of genus Millepora coral symbiodinium in response to ocean acidification

Coral bleaching poses an imminent threat to the health and longevity of the world’s coral reef systems. The recent increase of ambient CO2 in sea water endangers the photoprotective process of photorespiration, which may overwhelmingly contribute to these bleaching events. While it has been established in numerous studies that ocean acidification negatively impacts calcification rates in corals, ocean acidification’s potential effect on other physiological processes has been largely overlooked, and the link between photoprotection disruption and bleaching events has been highly suggested, but has yet to be definitively established within a controlled environment. This study will investigate the effect of increasing CO2 levels on photorespiratory processes and their effect on coral bleaching patterns. When thirty specimen of genus Millepora are placed in ocean water with lower-than-average pH (“business-as-usual” projections ranging from normal levels to 1000 ppm), it is hypothesized that there will be a marked increase in surface area of bleached coral, measured in mm2. The surface area of bleached coral will be measured by a laser grid in mm2, while oxygen levels will also be monitored to observe the adjustment in photosynthesis after photorespiration declines. It will be analyzed whether the area of surface bleached in the high acidity group deviates from the control specimen where all conditions are at an optimal level.

Brayton C., 2015. Disruptions in photorespiration of genus Millepora coral symbiodinium in response to ocean acidification. South Carolina Junior Academy of Science, Paper 171. Article (subscription required).


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