Energy Budget for the Cultured, Zooxanthellate Octocoral Sinularia flexibilis

M.K. Khalesi, H.H. Beeftink, R.H. Wijffels

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The zooxanthellate octocoral Sinularia flexibilis is a producer of potential pharmaceutically important metabolites such as antimicrobial and cytotoxic substances. Controlled rearing of the coral, as an alternative for commercial exploitation of these compounds, requires the study of species-specific growth requirements. In this study, phototrophic vs. heterotrophic daily energy demands of S. flexibilis was investigated through light and Artemia feeding trials in the laboratory. Rate of photosynthetic oxygen by zooxanthellae in light (˜200 µmol quanta m-2¿s-1) was measured for the coral colonies with and without feeding on Artemia nauplii. Respiratory oxygen was measured in the dark, again with and without Artemia nauplii. Photosynthesis–irradiance curve at light intensities of 0, 50, 100, 200, and 400 µmol quanta m-2¿s-1 showed an increase in photosynthetic oxygen production up to a light intensity between 100 and 200 µmol quanta m-2¿s-1. The photosynthesis to respiration ratio (P/R¿>¿1) confirmed phototrophy of S. flexibilis. Both fed and non-fed colonies in the light showed high carbon contribution by zooxanthellae to animal (host) respiration values of 111–127%. Carbon energy equivalents allocated to the coral growth averaged 6–12% of total photosynthesis energy (mg C¿g - ¹ buoyant weight day - ¹) and about 0.02% of the total daily radiant energy. “Light utilization efficiency (e)” estimated an average e value of 75% 12 h - ¹ for coral practical energetics. This study shows that besides a fundamental role of phototrophy vs. heterotrophy in daily energy budget of S. flexibilis, an efficient fraction of irradiance is converted to useable energy
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)1092-1098
JournalMarine Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • coral stylophora-pistillata
  • photosynthetically fixed carbon
  • porites-porites scleractinia
  • soft corals
  • hermatypic corals
  • light-absorption
  • symbiotic coral
  • bleached corals
  • quantum yield
  • reef corals


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