Phototoxic effects of PAH and UVA exposure on molecular responses and developmental success in coral larvae

Sebastian Overmans, Mikaela Nordborg, Ruben Diaz Rua, Diane L. Brinkman, Andrew P. Negri, Susana Agusti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Exposure to polycyclic aromatic carbons (PAHs) poses a growing risk to coral reefs due to increasing shipping and petroleum extraction in tropical waters. Damaging effects of specific PAHs can be further enhanced by the presence of ultraviolet radiation, known as phototoxicity. We tested phototoxic effects of the PAHs anthracene and phenanthrene on larvae of the scleractinian coral Acropora tenuis in the presence and absence of UVA (320–400 nm). Activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme was reduced by anthracene while phenanthrene and UVA exposure did not have any effect. Gene expression of MnSod remained constant across all treatments. The genes Catalase, Hsp70 and Hsp90 showed increased expression levels in larvae exposed to anthracene, but not phenanthrene. Gene expression of p53 was upregulated in the presence of UVA, but downregulated when exposed to PAHs. The influence on stress-related biochemical pathways and gene expresson in A. tenuis larvae was considerably greater for anthracene than phenanthrene, and UVA-induced phototoxicity was only evident for anthracene. The combined effects of UVA and PAH exposure on larval survival and metamorphosis paralleled the sub-lethal stress responses, clearly highlighting the interaction of UVA on anthracene toxicity and ultimately the coral’s development.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-174
Number of pages10
JournalAquatic Toxicology
StatePublished - Mar 9 2018

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We would like to express special thanks to Florita Flores and the SeaSim staff from AIMS for their expert support and assistance. This work was made possible by the KAUST baseline funds to S. Agustí, and a research grant set up as part of the collaborative research project between the Red Sea Research Center (RSRC) at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).


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