Red Light Represses the Photophysiology of the Scleractinian Coral Stylophora pistillata

T.H.M. Wijgerde, A.A.M. Melis, C.I. Ferreira Da Silva, M.C. Leal, L. Vogels, C. Mutter, R. Osinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Light spectrum plays a key role in the biology of symbiotic corals, with blue light resulting in higher coral growth, zooxanthellae density, chlorophyll a content and photosynthesis rates as compared to red light. However, it is still unclear whether these physiological processes are blue-enhanced or red-repressed. This study investigated the individual and combined effects of blue and red light on the health, zooxanthellae density, photophysiology and colouration of the scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata over 6 weeks. Coral fragments were exposed to blue, red, and combined 50/50% blue red light, at two irradiance levels (128 and 256 µmol m-2 s-1). Light spectrum affected the health/survival, zooxanthellae density, and NDVI (a proxy for chlorophyll a content) of S. pistillata. Blue light resulted in highest survival rates, whereas red light resulted in low survival at 256 µmol m-2 s-1. Blue light also resulted in higher zooxanthellae densities compared to red light at 256 µmol m-2 s-1, and a higher NDVI compared to red and combined blue red light. Overall, our results suggest that red light negatively affects the health, survival, symbiont density and NDVI of S. pistillata, with a dominance of red over blue light for NDVI.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere92781
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • green fluorescent protein
  • reef-building corals
  • chlorophyll biosynthesis
  • zinc toxicity
  • cell-cycle
  • zooxanthellae
  • photosynthesis
  • aquaculture
  • performance
  • pigments


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