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Additive effects of the herbicide glyphosate and elevated temperature on the branched coral Acropora formosa in Nha Trang, Vietnam
- Amid, C., Olstedt, M., Gunnarsson, J.S., Le Lan, H., Tran Thi Minh, H., Van den Brink, P.J., Hellström, M., Tedengren, M.
- Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.14 pp. 13360-13372
- Acropora cervicornis, Symbiodinium, additive effect, anthropogenic stressors, bleaching, chlorophyll, color, colorimetry, coral bleaching, coral reefs, corals, digital images, fish farms, glyphosate, image analysis, monitoring, photography, pollution, symbionts, water temperature, Vietnam
- The combined effects of the herbicide glyphosate and elevated temperature were studied on the tropical staghorn coral Acropora formosa, in Nha Trang bay, Vietnam. The corals were collected from two different reefs, one close to a polluted fish farm and one in a marine-protected area (MPA). In the laboratory, branches of the corals were exposed to the herbicide glyphosate at ambient (28 °C) and at 3 °C elevated water temperatures (31 °C). Effects of herbicide and elevated temperature were studied on coral bleaching using photography and digital image analysis (new colorimetric method developed here based on grayscale), chlorophyll a analysis, and symbiotic dinoflagellate (Symbiodinium, referred to as zooxanthellae) counts. All corals from the MPA started to bleach in the laboratory before they were exposed to the treatments, indicating that they were very sensitive, as opposed to the corals collected from the more polluted site, which were more tolerant and showed no bleaching response to temperature increase or herbicide alone. However, the combined exposure to the stressors resulted in significant loss of color, proportional to loss in chlorophyll a and zooxanthellae. The difference in sensitivity of the corals collected from the polluted site versus the MPA site could be explained by different symbiont types: the resilient type C3u and the stress-sensitive types C21 and C23, respectively. The additive effect of elevated temperatures and herbicides adds further weight to the notion that the bleaching of coral reefs is accelerated in the presence of multiple stressors. These results suggest that the corals in Nha Trang bay have adapted to the ongoing pollution to become more tolerant to anthropogenic stressors, and that multiple stressors hamper this resilience. The loss of color and decrease of chlorophyll a suggest that bleaching is related to concentration of chloro-pigments. The colorimetric method could be further fine-tuned and used as a precise, non-intrusive tool for monitoring coral bleaching in situ.