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Patterns of Fluorescent Protein Expression in Scleractinian Corals
David F. Gruber, Hung-Teh Kao, Stephen Janoschka, Julia Tsai and Vincent A. Pieribone
Vol. 215, No. 2 (Oct., 2008), pp. 143-154
Published by: Marine Biological Laboratory
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25470695
Page Count: 12
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Biofluorescence exists in only a few classes of organisms, with Anthozoa possessing the majority of species known to express fluorescent proteins. Most species within the Anthozoan subgroup Scleractinia (reef-building corals) not only express green fluorescent proteins, they also localize the proteins in distinct anatomical patterns. We examined the distribution of biofluorescence in 33 coral species, representing 8 families, from study sites on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. For 28 of these species, we report the presence of biofluorescence for the first time. The dominant fluorescent emissions observed were green (480-520 nm) and red (580-600 nm). Fluorescent proteins were expressed in three distinct patterns (highlighted, uniform, and complementary) among specific anatomical structures of corals across a variety of families. We report no significant overlap between the distribution of fluorescent proteins and the distribution of zooxanthellae. Analysis of the patterns of fluorescent protein distribution provides evidence that the scheme in which fluorescent proteins are distributed among the anatomical structures of corals is nonrandom. This targeted expression of fluorescent proteins in corals produces contrast and may function as a signaling mechanism to organisms with sensitivity to specific wavelengths of light.
Biological Bulletin © 2008 Marine Biological Laboratory