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

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Tagliafico, A, Rudd, D, Rangel, MS, Kelaher, BP, Christidis, L, Cowden, K, Scheffers, SR & Benkendorff, K 2017, 'Lipid-enriched diets reduce the impacts of thermal stress in corals', Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 573, pp. 129-141.

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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.

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