Effect of temperature on the accumulation and repair of UV damage in Symbiodinium and corals

Ms Ruth Reef (2008). Effect of temperature on the accumulation and repair of UV damage in Symbiodinium and corals PhD Thesis, Centre for Marine Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Ms Ruth Reef
Thesis Title Effect of temperature on the accumulation and repair of UV damage in Symbiodinium and corals
School, Centre or Institute Centre for Marine Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2008-06
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Sophie Dove
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
Oren Levy
Total pages 109
Subjects 300000 Agricultural, Veterinary and Environmental Sciences
Formatted abstract
Throughout their long evolution, reef building corals have experienced periods when
ultraviolet radiation (UVR) levels were much higher than those we experience today. Their
ability to survive under these high UVR levels is probably what allows them to maintain their
present distribution in the clear shallow waters of the tropics, where UVR levels are the
highest for any marine ecosystem. Through their highly beneficial symbiosis with
photosynthetic dinoflagellates, Symbiodinium, corals harness the abundant solar radiation in
these regions and build massive limestone structures which harbour an endless diversity of
organisms. Their reliance on solar energy also implies high exposure to damaging UVR.
UVR is a high energy radiation capable of damaging many cellular components, most notably
the DNA. As these damages can prove lethal to an organism, energy must be expended to
avoid and repair UVR damage. In this thesis, I have examined the suite of defences corals
employ against solar UVR, which range from sunscreen molecules (MAAs) to DNA repair
enzymes and even to the skeleton, which I found to be a key component in the battle against
UVR inflicted damage. I found these defences to be highly effective but also found that they
can be potentially weakened by climate change. The rise of temperature and drop in ocean pH
will challenge the UV defence mechanisms of corals but the highly efficient and resilient
repair enzymes we have revealed in this study might give corals a fighting chance in this
brave new world.
Keyword Ultraviolet radiation, DNA, coral, Symbiodinium, photolyase, MAA, skeleton, climate change, ocean acidification, global warming

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Created: Fri, 09 Jan 2009, 14:53:09 EST by Ms Ruth Reef on behalf of Library - Information Access Service