Regulation of release of antibacterials from stressed scleractinian corals

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Recently, we showed that mechanical stress on scleractinian (stony) corals caused a rapid release of antibacterial material (referred to as coral antibacterial activity, or CAA), which killed various bacterial species, including the coral pathogen Vibrio coralliilyticus. We now report on studies on the regulation of CAA release from stressed scleractinian corals. Corals can repeatedly release highly active CAA as a result of sequential stress inductions. Coral fragments were transferred 19 times from one beaker into another with a stress induction each time after 10 min. There was a decrease in the level of antibacterial activity released during the first four to five transfers. After the fifth transfer, the corals kept releasing CAA for the rest of the experiment with no significant decrease. Apparently, the release of CAA is downregulated by feedback inhibition, depending on the concentration of CAA in the surrounding water. By separating CAA-treated V. coralliilyticus from the surrounding water, it was shown that CAA was bound irreversibly to bacterial cells in a stoichiometric manner. Approximately 4 × 102 bacterial cells were sufficient to bind 1 U of CAA. Resident coral bacteria were more resistant to CAA than bacteria isolated from seawater, suggesting an ecological role for CAA. CAA release was obtained from corals after removal of the mucus layer, and the mucus itself contained antibacterial activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Antibacterial
  • Antibacterial protein
  • Coral antibiotics
  • Coral innate immunity


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