Coral host cells acidify symbiotic algal microenvironment to promote photosynthesis

Model of host-driven CCM in scleractinian corals.
TitleCoral host cells acidify symbiotic algal microenvironment to promote photosynthesis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBarott KL, Venn A.A, Perez S.O, Tambutte S., Tresguerres M
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume112
Pagination607-12
Date Published2014/12
ISBN Number1091-6490 (Electronic)<br/>0027-8424 (Linking)
Accession Number25548188
Abstract

Symbiotic dinoflagellate algae residing inside coral tissues supply the host with the majority of their energy requirements through the translocation of photosynthetically fixed carbon. The algae, in turn, rely on the host for the supply of inorganic carbon. Carbon must be concentrated as CO2 in order for photosynthesis to proceed, and here we show that the coral host plays an active role in this process. The host-derived symbiosome membrane surrounding the algae abundantly expresses vacuolar H(+)-ATPase (VHA), which acidifies the symbiosome space down to pH approximately 4. Inhibition of VHA results in a significant decrease in average H(+) activity in the symbiosome of up to 75% and a significant reduction in O2 production rate, a measure of photosynthetic activity. These results suggest that host VHA is part of a previously unidentified carbon concentrating mechanism for algal photosynthesis and provide mechanistic evidence that coral host cells can actively modulate the physiology of their symbionts.

DOI10.1073/pnas.1413483112
Alternate JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Impact: 

"Coral growth and calcification is supported by sugars acquired from symbiotic algae, allowing corals to thrive in otherwise nutrient-poor environments. This symbiosis depends on the coordinated exchange of compounds between partners, the mechanisms of which are poorly understood. Here we found that coral host cells acidify the microenvironment where the symbiotic algae reside using a proton pump, the V-type H+-ATPase (VHA), which is present in the host membrane surrounding the algae. Acidification of the algal microenvironment by VHA promotes photosynthesis, demonstrating that the coral host can actively regulate symbiont physiology. This work is an important step toward understanding how animal symbioses function and provides mechanistic models that can help understand the capacity of corals to adapt to global climate change."

Integrated Research Themes: 
Student Publication: 
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