Coral bleaching is caused by environmental stress and susceptibility to bleaching stress varies among types of coral. The physiological properties of the algal symbionts (Symbiodinium
spp.), especially extent of damage to PSII and its repair capacity, contribute importantly to this variability in stress susceptibility. The objective of the present study was to investigate the relationship between the growth rates and photosynthetic activities of six cultured strains of Symbiodinium
spp. (clades A, B, C, D, and F) at elevated temperature (33 °C). We also observed the recovery of photodamaged-PSII in the presence or absence of a chloroplast protein synthesis inhibitor (lincomycin). The growth rates and photochemical efficiencies of PSII (Fv/Fm
) decreased in parallel at high temperature in thermally sensitive strains, B-K100 (clade B followed by culture name) and A-Y106, but not in thermally tolerant strains, F-K102 and D-K111. In strains A-KB8 and C-Y103, growth declined markedly at high temperature, but Fv/Fm
decreased only slightly. These strains may reallocate energy from growth to the repair of damaged photosynthetic machineries or protection pathways. Alternatively, since recoveries of photo-damaged PSII at 33 °C were modest in strains A-KB8 and C-Y103, thermal stressing of other metabolic pathways may have reduced growth rates in these two strains. This possibility should be explored in future research efforts.
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