Photobiology of endolithic microorganisms in living coral skeletons: 1. Pigmentation, spectral reflectance and variable chlorophyll fluorescence analysis of endoliths in the massive corals Cyphastrea serailia, Porites lutea and Goniastrea australensis

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Journal Article
Marine Biology, 2007, 152 (2), pp. 395 - 404
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We used microscopy, reflectance spectroscopy, pigment analysis, and photosynthesis-irradiance curves measured with variable fluorescence techniques to characterise the endolithic communities of phototrophic microorganisms in the skeleton of three massive corals from a shallow reef flat. Microscopic observations and reflectance spectra showed the presence of up to four distinct bands of photosynthetic microorganisms at different depths within the coral skeleton. Endolithic communities closer to the coral surface exhibited higher photosynthetic electron transport rates and a green zone dominated by Ostreobium quekettii nearest the surface had the greatest chlorophyll pigment concentration. However, Ostreobium was also present and photosynthetically active in the colourless band between the coral tissue and the green band. The spectral properties and pigment density of the endolithic bands were also found to closely correlate to photosynthetic rates as assessed by fluorometry. All endolithic communities were extremely shade-adapted, and photosynthesis was saturated at irradiances <7 μmol photons m-2s-1. © 2007 Springer-Verlag.
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