Regeneration of artificially induced lesions in the Caribbean great star coral (Montastraea cavernosa) in the nearshore waters of Grenada.




Horricks, Ryan

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University of Guelph


Sessile scleractinian corals provide the three-dimensional structure of critically important coral reefs around the globe. Their ability to regenerate damaged tissue is of crucial importance to the long-term health and continued presence of the reef ecosystem as a whole. The major objectives of this research were to 1) document the changes of the benthic community assemblages of study sites at eight near-shore patch reefs in marine protected areas and unprotected regions on the islands of Carriacou and Grenada over three years; 2) document the regeneration of tissue from artificially-induced lesions in Montastraea cavernosa at both the gross and proteomic levels; and 3) to establish which proteins are expressed in apparently healthy M. cavernosa tissue (i.e. the proteome). Using 4 x 30 m long photo quadrat surveys the benthic species assemblages at all sites were significantly different between islands in both 2014 (p=0.008) and 2017 (p=0.003). Marine protected area status did not have a significant effect on predicting benthic community species assemblages (p>0.05) or the percent cover of either coral (p>0.05) or macroalgae (p>0.05). Lesions created on 124 M. cavernosa colonies in the fall of 2014 regenerated at significantly different rates between the two islands (p=0.023). There was no significant effect of marine protected area status on lesion regeneration rate between islands or marine protected areas (p>0.05). Identical lesions were created on 30 M. cavernosa colonies in 2015 and the damaged tissues were re-sampled biweekly and stored for proteomic analysis. Soluble protein was extracted from regenerating M. cavernosa tissue, labelled with tandem mass tags, and analyzed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Twenty-four proteins associated with regeneration and inflammation in other metazoans were identified to be significantly (p<0.05) differentially abundant during regeneration of artificially damaged M. cavernosa polyps. One hundred twenty-five proteins were significantly (p<0.05) differentially abundant between colonies with delayed regeneration and those that regenerated tissue normally. A total of 1042 unique proteins were identified in the proteome of apparently healthy M. cavernosa tissue. This research has documented, for the first time, some of the proteomic mechanisms for tissue regeneration in a scleractinian coral.



Marine Protected Area, Regeneration, Tandem Mass Tag (TMT), Montastraea cavernosa, Proteomics, Coral, Grenada