MEPS 573:129-141 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12177

Lipid-enriched diets reduce the impacts of thermal stress in corals

A. Tagliafico1,*, D. Rudd2, M. S. Rangel1, B. P. Kelaher1, L. Christidis1, K. Cowden1, S. R. Scheffers2, K. Benkendorff2

1National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, NSW 2450, Australia
2Marine Ecology Research Centre, School of Environment, Science and Engineering, Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Coral species are better able to survive bleaching events with heterotrophic feeding, which raises the level of lipid provisions and coral resilience against stress episodes. We report that a lipid-enriched diet allowed 2 coral species (Duncanopsammia axifuga and Acropora millepora) to resist an experimental bleaching event that involved exposure to temperatures of 32°C for 14 d. The diet, containing Artemia enriched with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), increased the proportions of essential fatty acid within coral tissue at normal temperatures, and maintained normal levels of these fatty acids under high temperatures. Neither of the 2 species significantly bleached when fed an enriched diet, and D. axifuga also grew faster, and increased colour, chlorophyll, symbiont density and PUFA proportions in the enriched diet compared to controls. Overall, this study sheds new light on the role of heterotrophic feeding in coral resilience to bleaching and provides a novel approach for bleaching prevention, reef restoration and improved coral aquaculture.


KEY WORDS: Lipid-enriched Artemia · Omega-3 fatty acids · Polyunsaturated fatty acids · Coral feeding · Acropora millepora · Duncanopsammia axifuga


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Cite this article as: Tagliafico A, Rudd D, Rangel MS, Kelaher BP and others (2017) Lipid-enriched diets reduce the impacts of thermal stress in corals. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 573:129-141. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12177

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