Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 6825949, 11 pages
Research Article

Colorimetric Detection of Caspase 3 Activity and Reactive Oxygen Derivatives: Potential Early Indicators of Thermal Stress in Corals

1Université de Perpignan Via Domitia, 52 avenue Paul Alduy, 66860 Perpignan, France
2Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster (C3), University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia
3Université de Brest, 3 rue des Archives, CS 93837, 29238 Brest Cedex 3, France

Received 30 October 2015; Revised 4 February 2016; Accepted 11 February 2016

Academic Editor: Robert A. Patzner

Copyright © 2016 Mickael Ros et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


There is an urgent need to develop and implement rapid assessments of coral health to allow effective adaptive management in response to coastal development and global change. There is now increasing evidence that activation of caspase-dependent apoptosis plays a key role during coral bleaching and subsequent mortality. In this study, a “clinical” approach was used to assess coral health by measuring the activity of caspase 3 using a commercial kit. This method was first applied while inducing thermal bleaching in two coral species, Acropora millepora and Pocillopora damicornis. The latter species was then chosen to undergo further studies combining the detection of oxidative stress-related compounds (catalase activity and glutathione concentrations) as well as caspase activity during both stress and recovery phases. Zooxanthellae photosystem II (PSII) efficiency and cell density were measured in parallel to assess symbiont health. Our results demonstrate that the increased caspase 3 activity in the coral host could be detected before observing any significant decrease in the photochemical efficiency of PSII in the algal symbionts and/or their expulsion from the host. This study highlights the potential of host caspase 3 and reactive oxygen species scavenging activities as early indicators of stress in individual coral colonies.