Oxidative stress and apoptotic events during thermal stress in the symbiotic sea anemone, Anemonia viridis

FEBS J. 2006 Sep;273(18):4186-98. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2006.05414.x. Epub 2006 Aug 14.


Symbiosis between cnidarian and photosynthetic protists is widely distributed over temperate and tropical seas. These symbioses can periodically breakdown, a phenomenon known as cnidarian bleaching. This event can be irreversible for some associations subjected to acute and/or prolonged environmental disturbances, and leads to the death of the animal host. During bleaching, oxidative stress has been described previously as acting at molecular level and apoptosis is suggested to be one of the mechanisms involved. We focused our study on the role of apoptosis in bleaching via oxidative stress in the association between the sea anemone Anemonia viridis and the dinoflagellates Symbiodinium species. Characterization of caspase-like enzymes were conducted at the biochemical and molecular level to confirm the presence of a caspase-dependent apoptotic phenomenon in the cnidarian host. We provide evidence of oxidative stress followed by induction of caspase-like activity in animal host cells after an elevated temperature stress, suggesting the concomitant action of these components in bleaching.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Anemone / enzymology
  • Anemone / parasitology
  • Anemone / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Base Sequence
  • Caspases / genetics
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Dinoflagellida / physiology*
  • Hot Temperature
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Phylogeny
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Seawater / parasitology
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Symbiosis*


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Caspases