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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 3130723, 7 pages
Research Article

Experimentally Induced Bleaching in the Sea Anemone Exaiptasia Supports Glucose as a Main Metabolite Associated with Its Symbiosis

1Instituto Tecnológico de Morelia, Av. Tecnológico 15000, 58120 Morelia, MICH, Mexico
2Programa de Posgrado en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Mexico City, Mexico
3Unidad Académica de Sistemas Arrecifales Puerto Morelos, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 13, 77500 Cancún, QROO, Mexico

Correspondence should be addressed to Patricia Elena Thomé

Received 23 September 2017; Accepted 14 November 2017; Published 5 December 2017

Academic Editor: Horst Felbeck

Copyright © 2017 Víctor Hugo Molina 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.


Our current understanding of carbon exchange between partners in the Symbiodinium-cnidarian symbioses is still limited, even though studies employing carbon isotopes have made us aware of the metabolic complexity of this exchange. We examined glycerol and glucose metabolism to better understand how photosynthates are exchanged between host and symbiont. The levels of these metabolites were compared between symbiotic and bleached Exaiptasia pallida anemones, assaying enzymes directly involved in their metabolism. We measured a significant decrease of glucose levels in bleached animals but a significant increase in glycerol and G3P pools, suggesting that bleached animals degrade lipids to compensate for the loss of symbionts and seem to rely on symbiotic glucose. The lower glycerol 3-phosphate dehydrogenase but higher glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase specific activities measured in bleached animals agree with a metabolic deficit mainly due to the loss of glucose from the ruptured symbiosis. These results corroborate previous observations on carbon translocation from symbiont to host in the sea anemone Exaiptasia, where glucose was proposed as a main translocated metabolite. To better understand photosynthate translocation and its regulation, additional research with other symbiotic cnidarians is needed, in particular, those with calcium carbonate skeletons.