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Physiological responses of corals to ocean acidification and copper exposure

Bielmyer-Fraser, Gretchen K., Patel, Pratikumar, Capo, Tom, Grosell, Martin
Marine pollution bulletin 2018 v.133 pp. 781-790
Acropora cervicornis, acidification, antioxidants, carbon dioxide, copper, corals, ecosystems, enzyme activity, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione-disulfide reductase, ocean acidification, photosynthesis, physiological response, toxicity, water pollution
Acidification and land-based sources of pollution have been linked to widespread declines of coral cover in coastal reef ecosystems. In this study, two coral species, Acropora cervicornis and Pocillopora damicornis were exposed to increased copper at two CO2 levels for 96 h. Copper accumulation and anti-oxidant enzyme activities were measured. Copper accumulation only increased in A. cervicornis zooxanthellae and corresponded with photosynthetic toxicity. Enzyme activities in both coral species were affected; however, A. cervicornis was more sensitive than P. damicornis, and zooxanthellae were more affected than animal fractions of holobionts. Generally, activities of all anti-oxidant enzymes increased, with copper exposure in corals; whereas, activities of glutathione reductase and to some degree glutathione peroxidase were observed due to increasing CO2 exposure alone. Exposure to copper in combination with higher CO2 resulted in a synergistic response in some cases. These results provide insight into mechanisms of copper and CO2 impacts in corals.