Physiological resilience of a temperate soft coral to ocean warming and acidification

Atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) is increasing at an unprecedented rate and subsequently leading to ocean acidification. Concomitantly, ocean warming is intensifying, leading to serious and predictable biological impairments over marine biota. Reef-building corals have proven to be very vulnerable to climate change, but little is known about the resilience of non-reef-building species. In this study, we investigated the effects of ocean warming and acidification on the antioxidant enzyme activity (CAT—catalase, and GST—glutathione S-transferase), lipid peroxidation (using malondialdehyde, MDA—levels as a biomarker) and heat shock response (HSP70/HSC70 content) of the octocoral Veretillum cynomorium. After 60 days of acclimation, no mortalities were registered in all treatments. Moreover, CAT and GST activities, as well as MDA levels, did not change significantly under warming and/or acidification. Heat shock response was significantly enhanced under warming, but high CO2 did not have a significant effect. Contrasting to many of their tropical coral-reef relatives, our findings suggest that temperate shallow-living octocorals may be able to physiologically withstand future conditions of increased temperature and acidification.

Lopes A. R., Faleiro F., Rosa I. C., Pimentel M. S., Trubenbach K., Repolho T., Diniz M. & Rosa R., 2018. Physiological resilience of a temperate soft coral to ocean warming and acidification. Cell Stress and Chaperones. Article (subscription required).

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