[Coral-List] Function of green fluorescent protein (GFP)- like chromoproteins

Wiedenmann J. joerg.wiedenmann at noc.soton.ac.uk
Wed Jan 23 12:36:51 EST 2013

Dear colleagues,

Please allow me to draw your attention to our paper on the function of green fluorescent protein (GFP) – like chromoproteins that just came out in Coral Reefs.

In this paper, we provide direct experimental evidence that the non-fluorescent pink and purple chromoproteins (CPs) can indeed act as sunscreens for zooxanthellae by removing parts of the light that might become otherwise harmful. 

Furthermore, based on our results, we introduce a model that helps to explain why some corals accumulate exceptionally high amounts of chromoproteins in growing areas, such as branch tips or in the region of healing wounds. These growing areas contain essentially no zooxanthellae, so much of the incident light is reflected by the skeleton instead of being absorbed by the algal pigments. The increased light fluxes in the newly produced tissue represent a potential danger for the zooxanthellae colonising these areas (and the host), which can be mitigated by the host via the light-driven upregulation of CP gene expression. Once the zooxanthellae population is fully established, the light fluxes in the tissue decrease as the algae “use” most of the light. As a consequence, the CP genes are switched off again which allows the coral to save the energy required for their production. 

For your interest, I have attached links to further information below.

With best wishes,

Joerg Wiedenmann
Further information:

Smith E.G., D’Angelo C., Salih A. and Wiedenmann J. (2013) Screening by coral green fluorescent protein (GFP)-like chromoproteins supports a role in photoprotection of zooxanthellae. Coral Reefs DOI 10.1007/s00338-012-0994-9, 1-12. 


PD Dr. Joerg Wiedenmann
National Oceanography Centre
University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus
European Way
Southampton, SO14 3ZH
email: joerg.wiedenmann at noc.soton.ac.uk
Mobile: +44 (0)7912564356

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