The Scleractinian corals Orbicella annularis and O. faveolata have survived by acclimatizing to environmental changes in water depth and sea surface temperature (SST). However, the complex physiological mechanisms by which this is achieved remain only partially understood, limiting the accurate prediction of coral response to future climate change. This study quantitatively tracks spatial and temporal changes in Symbiodiniaceae and biomolecule (chromatophores, calmodulin, carbonic anhydrase and mucus) abundance that are essential to the processes of acclimatization and biomineralization. Decalcified tissues from intact healthy Orbicella biopsies, collected across water depths and seasonal SST changes on Curaçao, were analyzed with novel autofluorescence and immunofluorescence histology techniques that included the use of custom antibodies. O. annularis at 5 m water depth exhibited decreased Symbiodiniaceae and increased chromatophore abundances, while O. faveolata at 12 m water depth exhibited inverse relationships. Analysis of seasonal acclimatization of the O. faveolata holobiont in this study, combined with previous reports, suggests that biomolecules are differentially modulated during transition from cooler to warmer SST. Warmer SST was also accompanied by decreased mucus production and decreased Symbiodiniaceae abundance, which is compensated by increased photosynthetic activity enhanced calcification. These interacting processes have facilitated the remarkable resiliency of the corals through geological time.
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