Although reef-building corals are threatened by a number of anthropogenic
impacts, certain scleractinian-dinoflagellate (genus Symbiodinium) endosymbioses
have proven markedly resilient to environmental change. For instance,
corals from upwelling habitats of Southern Taiwan withstand both short- and
long-term increases in temperature, potentially due to their routine exposure
to highly variable temperature regimes in situ. To gain a greater understanding
of the proteomic basis for such acclimatization to unstable environmental
conditions, specimens of the Indo-Pacific reef-building coral Seriatopora hystrix Dana 1846 were sampled during a period of stable temperature conditions
from 1) a site characterized by frequent upwelling events in Southern
Taiwan and 2) a nearby, non-upwelling control site in the Taiwan Strait.
Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis followed by sequencing of differentially
concentrated proteins with mass spectrometry unveiled significantly more
proteins involved in the cellular stress response in coral hosts of the upwelling
site. Although such stress protein signatures could be indicative of sub-lethal
levels of cellular stress, especially given the relatively higher sediment loads
characteristic of the upwelling site, these proteins may, in contrast, have been
constitutively maintained at high levels in preparation for large fluctuations in
temperature and other abiotic parameters (e.g., nutrient levels) brought upon
by upwelling events.
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