The impact of autotrophic versus heterotrophic nutritional pathways on colony health and wound recovery in corals
Burmester, Elizabeth M.
Lawrence, Nicholas F.
Finnerty, John R.
Rotjan, Randi D.
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Citation (published version)Elizabeth M Burmester, Adrienne Breef-Pilz, Nicholas F Lawrence, Les Kaufman, John R Finnerty, Randi D Rotjan. 2018. "The impact of autotrophic versus heterotrophic nutritional pathways on colony health and wound recovery in corals." ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, Volume 8, Issue 22, pp. 10805 - 10816 (12). https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4531
For animals that harbor photosynthetic symbionts within their tissues, such as corals, the different relative contributions of autotrophy versus heterotrophy to organismal energetic requirements have direct impacts on fitness. This is especially true for facultatively symbiotic corals, where the balance between host‐caught and symbiont‐produced energy can be altered substantially to meet the variable demands of a shifting environment. In this study, we utilized a temperate coral–algal system (the northern star coral, Astrangia poculata, and its photosynthetic endosymbiont, Symbiodinium psygmophilum) to explore the impacts of nutritional sourcing on the host's health and ability to regenerate experimentally excised polyps. For fed and starved colonies, wound healing and total colony tissue cover were differentially impacted by heterotrophy versus autotrophy. There was an additive impact of positive nutritional and symbiotic states on a coral's ability to initiate healing, but a greater influence of symbiont state on the recovery of lost tissue at the lesion site and complete polyp regeneration. On the other hand, regardless of symbiont state, fed corals maintained a higher overall colony tissue cover, which also enabled more active host behavior (polyp extension) and endosymbiont behavior (photosynthetic ability of Symbiondinium). Overall, we determined that the impact of nutritional state and symbiotic state varied between biological functions, suggesting a diversity in energetic sourcing for each of these processes.
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