Journal Article

Heat Stress Stimulates Nitric Oxide Production in <i>Symbiodinium microadriaticum</i>: A Possible Linkage between Nitric Oxide and the Coral Bleaching Phenomenon

Josée Nina Bouchard and Hideo Yamasaki

in Plant and Cell Physiology

Published on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists

Volume 49, issue 4, pages 641-652
Published in print April 2008 | ISSN: 0032-0781
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1471-9053 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pcp/pcn037
Heat Stress Stimulates Nitric Oxide Production in Symbiodinium microadriaticum: A Possible Linkage between Nitric Oxide and the Coral Bleaching Phenomenon

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Nitric oxide (NO) is a gas displaying multiple physiological functions in plants, animals and bacteria. The enzymes nitrate reductase and NO synthase have been suggested to be involved in the production of NO in plants and algae, but the implication of those enzymes in NO production under physiological conditions remains obscure. Symbiodinium microadriaticum, commonly referred to as zooxanthellae, is a marine microalga commonly found in symbiotic association with a cnidarian host including reef-building corals. Here we demonstrate NO production in zooxanthellae upon supplementation of either sodium nitrite or l-arginine as a substrate. The nitrite-dependent NO production was detected electrochemically and confirmed by the application of 2-(4-carboxyphenyl)-4,4,5,5-tetramethylimidazoline-1-oxyl-3-oxide (cPTIO), a specific NO scavenger. Cells stained with the diaminofluorescein, DAF-2 DA, an NO fluorescent probe, showed an increase in fluorescence intensity upon supplementation of both sodium nitrite and l-arginine. Microscopic observations of DAF-stained cells verified that NO was produced inside the cells. NO production in S. microadriaticum was found to increase upon exposure of cells to an acute heat stress which also caused a decline in the photosynthetic efficiency of PSII (Fv/Fm). This study provides substantial evidence to confirm that zooxanthellae can synthesize NO even when they are not in a symbiotic association with a coral host. The increase in NO production at high temperatures suggests that heat stress stimulates the microalgal NO production in a temperature-dependent manner. The implications of these findings are discussed in the light of the coral bleaching phenomenon which is associated with elevated sea surface temperature due to global warming.

Keywords: Coral bleaching; Symbiodinium microadriaticum; Nitrate reductase; Nitric oxide; Nitric oxide synthase; Temperature

Journal Article.  7540 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biochemistry ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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