Light from down under

Fine, Maoz, Sabbah, Shai, Shashar, Nadav and Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove (2013) Light from down under. Journal of Experimental Biology, 216 23: 4341-4346. doi:10.1242/jeb.025106

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Author Fine, Maoz
Sabbah, Shai
Shashar, Nadav
Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove
Title Light from down under
Journal name Journal of Experimental Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-0949
Publication date 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1242/jeb.025106
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 216
Issue 23
Start page 4341
End page 4346
Total pages 6
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher The Company of Biologists
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Coral-algae symbiosis is a key feature of tropical corals and is highly dependent on the efficiency with which solar energy is attenuated by the coral. Scleractinian corals are among the most efficient light collectors in nature because of the modulation of the internal light field in the coral skeleton. Interestingly, coral skeleton particles composing the sandy bottoms in reef margins sustain these optical characteristics. In the present study, we examined two free-living coral species - Heterocyathus aequicostatus (Caryophyllidae) and Heteropsammia cochlea (Dendrophylliidae) - common on biogenic coarse carbonate sand of the Great Barrier Reef but absent from fine sand at the same depth. In coarse carbonate sand, light penetrates a few millimeters below the surface and propagates along horizontal distances of a few centimeters. In fine sand, almost all of the light is reflected back to the water column. For photosynthetic sand-dwelling organisms such as the studied species, with over one-third of their surface area facing the substrate, light flux to their underside may be beneficial. A correlation was found between the diameter of these corals and the distance that light may travel in the sand under the coral. Laboratory and field measurements show that the symbiotic algae on the underside of the corallites are photosynthetically active even when the coral is partially buried, implying sufficient light penetration. Other organisms in the study site, such as fungid corals and foraminiferans, with different morphologies, have different light-trapping strategies but are also photosynthesizing on their underside. The importance of the substrate type to the performance of the three main partners of the symbiosis (coral, endosymbiotic algae and a sipunculan worm) is highlighted, and is a striking example of co-evolution. 
Keyword Aspidosyphon
Great Barrier Reef
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Global Change Institute Publications
Official 2014 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 3 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 17 Dec 2013, 00:36:17 EST by System User on behalf of Global Change Institute