Disentangling thermal stress responses in a reef-calcifier and its photosymbionts by shotgun proteomics

Marleen Stuhr*, Bernhard Blank-Landeshammer, Claire E. Reymond, Laxmikanth Kollipara, Albert Sickmann, Michal Kucera, Hildegard Westphal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


The proliferation of key marine ecological engineers and carbonate producers often relies on their association with photosymbiotic algae. Evaluating stress responses of these organisms is important to predict their fate under future climate projections. Physiological approaches are limited in their ability to resolve the involved molecular mechanisms and attribute stress effects to the host or symbiont, while probing and partitioning of proteins cannot be applied in organisms where the host and symbiont are small and cannot be physically separated. Here we apply a label-free quantitative proteomics approach to detect changes of proteome composition in the diatom-bearing benthic foraminifera Amphistegina gibbosa experimentally exposed to three thermal-stress scenarios. We developed a workflow for protein extraction from less than ten specimens and simultaneously analysed host and symbiont proteomes. Despite little genomic data for the host, 1,618 proteins could be partially assembled and assigned. The proteomes revealed identical pattern of stress response among stress scenarios as that indicated by physiological measurements, but allowed identification of compartment-specific stress reactions. In the symbiont, stress-response and proteolysis-related proteins were up regulated while photosynthesis-related proteins declined. In contrast, host homeostasis was maintained through chaperone up-regulation associated with elevated proteosynthesis and proteolysis, and the host metabolism shifted to heterotrophy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3524
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2018


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