Light intensity influences the production and translocation of fatty acids by zooxanthellae in the jellyfish Cassiopea sp.
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The influence of light intensity on the fatty acid profiles of the scyphozoan jellyfish Cassiopea sp. and its endosymbiotic zooxanthellae was investigated using a manipulative experiment. The aims of the study were to: 1) identify changes related to light intensity in the fatty acid profiles of the host jellyfish and zooxanthellae; 2) determine if jellyfish exposed to low light intensities compensated for reduced rates of photosynthesis by increasing heterotrophic feeding; and 3) determine if concentrations of zooxanthellae and chlorophyll a (chl a) increased in jellyfish exposed to reduced light intensity. Jellyfish were collected from an artificial urban tidal lake in southeast Queensland, Australia. Two were frozen for immediate analysis and 15 were randomly allocated to each of nine mesocosms. Three replicate mesocosms were then randomly allocated to each of three light treatments: 100%, 25%, and 10% PAR. The mesocosms were supplied with unfiltered, continuous flowing seawater and jellyfish fed on natural zooplankton, supplemented with frozen Mysis shrimp. Three jellyfish were sampled, with replacement, from each mesocosm 3, 15, 22, 39 and 69 days after the experiment commenced. Fatty acids as methyl esters in the host tissue (mesoglea) and zooxanthellae were determined separately using gas chromatography and verified by mass spectrometry. The fatty acid profiles of the host jellyfish and zooxanthellae remained unchanged in the 100% PAR treatment throughout the experiment but varied in the lower light treatments. A decrease in light intensity caused a reduction in the concentrations of some polyunsaturated fatty acids such as 18:1?9 and 18:4?3 in the zooxanthellae, the latter being abundant in dinoflagellates. Concomitantly, the concentrations of these fatty acids increased in the host tissues, suggesting a possible transfer of zooxanthellate fatty acids to the jellyfish. Jellyfish in the 10% PAR treatment shrank during the experiment and their fatty acid profiles did not reflect any shift towards increased heterotrophy. On days 22 and 69 concentrations of chl a, zooxanthellae and [chl a] zooxanthella-1 were determined. [chl a] and [chl a] zooxanthella-1, initially increased in the lower light treatments but decreased by the end of the experiment indicating that jellyfish may adapt to reduced light intensity in the short-term but that long-term exposure to reduced light results in compromised performance.
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)