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Sunscreens cause coral bleaching by promoting viral infections.

Danovaro R, Bongiorni L, Corinaldesi C, Giovannelli D, Damiani E, Astolfi P, Greci L, Pusceddu A - Environ. Health Perspect. (2008)

Bottom Line: Sunscreens cause the rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals, even at extremely low concentrations.The effect of sunscreens is due to organic ultraviolet filters, which are able to induce the lytic viral cycle in symbiotic zooxanthellae with latent infections.We conclude that sunscreens, by promoting viral infection, potentially play an important role in coral bleaching in areas prone to high levels of recreational use by humans.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Marine Sciences, Faculty of Science, Polytechnic University of the Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy. r.danovaro@univpm.it

ABSTRACT

Background: Coral bleaching (i.e., the release of coral symbiotic zooxanthellae) has negative impacts on biodiversity and functioning of reef ecosystems and their production of goods and services. This increasing world-wide phenomenon is associated with temperature anomalies, high irradiance, pollution, and bacterial diseases. Recently, it has been demonstrated that personal care products, including sunscreens, have an impact on aquatic organisms similar to that of other contaminants.

Objectives: Our goal was to evaluate the potential impact of sunscreen ingredients on hard corals and their symbiotic algae.

Methods: In situ and laboratory experiments were conducted in several tropical regions (the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, and the Red Sea) by supplementing coral branches with aliquots of sunscreens and common ultraviolet filters contained in sunscreen formula. Zooxanthellae were checked for viral infection by epifluorescence and transmission electron microscopy analyses.

Results: Sunscreens cause the rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals, even at extremely low concentrations. The effect of sunscreens is due to organic ultraviolet filters, which are able to induce the lytic viral cycle in symbiotic zooxanthellae with latent infections.

Conclusions: We conclude that sunscreens, by promoting viral infection, potentially play an important role in coral bleaching in areas prone to high levels of recreational use by humans.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Effect of 100-μL sunscreens on Acropora divaricata nubbins after 24-hr incubation at various temperatures. (A) control; (B) nubbins incubated at 28°C; and (C) nubbins incubated at 30°C. Scale bar = 1 cm.
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f2-ehp0116-000441: Effect of 100-μL sunscreens on Acropora divaricata nubbins after 24-hr incubation at various temperatures. (A) control; (B) nubbins incubated at 28°C; and (C) nubbins incubated at 30°C. Scale bar = 1 cm.

Mentions: In all replicates and at all sampling sites, sunscreen addition even in very low quantities (i.e., 10 μL/L) resulted in the release of large amounts of coral mucous (composed of zooxanthellae and coral tissue) within 18–48 hr, and complete bleaching of hard corals within 96 hr (Figure 1; Table 1). Different sunscreen brands, protective factors, and concentrations were compared, and all treatments caused bleaching of hard corals, although the rates of bleaching were faster when larger quantities were used (Table 1). Untreated nubbins (coral branches of 3–6 cm) used as controls did not show any change during the entire duration of the experiments (Table 1). Bleaching was faster in systems subjected to higher temperature, suggesting synergistic effects with this variable (Table 1; Figure 2). TEM and epifluorescence microscopy analyses revealed a loss of photo-synthetic pigments and membrane integrity in the zooxanthellae released from treated corals (30–98% of zooxanthellae released from Acropora nubbins were partially or totally damaged, appearing pale and transparent), whereas zooxanthellae membranes from untreated corals were intact (37–100% of the zooxanthellae released showed a defined shape and red fluorescing color; Figures 3 and 4). All these results indicate that sunscreens have a rapid effect on hard corals and cause bleaching by damaging the symbiotic zooxanthellae.


Sunscreens cause coral bleaching by promoting viral infections.

Danovaro R, Bongiorni L, Corinaldesi C, Giovannelli D, Damiani E, Astolfi P, Greci L, Pusceddu A - Environ. Health Perspect. (2008)

Effect of 100-μL sunscreens on Acropora divaricata nubbins after 24-hr incubation at various temperatures. (A) control; (B) nubbins incubated at 28°C; and (C) nubbins incubated at 30°C. Scale bar = 1 cm.
© Copyright Policy - public-domain
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2291018&req=5

f2-ehp0116-000441: Effect of 100-μL sunscreens on Acropora divaricata nubbins after 24-hr incubation at various temperatures. (A) control; (B) nubbins incubated at 28°C; and (C) nubbins incubated at 30°C. Scale bar = 1 cm.
Mentions: In all replicates and at all sampling sites, sunscreen addition even in very low quantities (i.e., 10 μL/L) resulted in the release of large amounts of coral mucous (composed of zooxanthellae and coral tissue) within 18–48 hr, and complete bleaching of hard corals within 96 hr (Figure 1; Table 1). Different sunscreen brands, protective factors, and concentrations were compared, and all treatments caused bleaching of hard corals, although the rates of bleaching were faster when larger quantities were used (Table 1). Untreated nubbins (coral branches of 3–6 cm) used as controls did not show any change during the entire duration of the experiments (Table 1). Bleaching was faster in systems subjected to higher temperature, suggesting synergistic effects with this variable (Table 1; Figure 2). TEM and epifluorescence microscopy analyses revealed a loss of photo-synthetic pigments and membrane integrity in the zooxanthellae released from treated corals (30–98% of zooxanthellae released from Acropora nubbins were partially or totally damaged, appearing pale and transparent), whereas zooxanthellae membranes from untreated corals were intact (37–100% of the zooxanthellae released showed a defined shape and red fluorescing color; Figures 3 and 4). All these results indicate that sunscreens have a rapid effect on hard corals and cause bleaching by damaging the symbiotic zooxanthellae.

Bottom Line: Sunscreens cause the rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals, even at extremely low concentrations.The effect of sunscreens is due to organic ultraviolet filters, which are able to induce the lytic viral cycle in symbiotic zooxanthellae with latent infections.We conclude that sunscreens, by promoting viral infection, potentially play an important role in coral bleaching in areas prone to high levels of recreational use by humans.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Marine Sciences, Faculty of Science, Polytechnic University of the Marche, Via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy. r.danovaro@univpm.it

ABSTRACT

Background: Coral bleaching (i.e., the release of coral symbiotic zooxanthellae) has negative impacts on biodiversity and functioning of reef ecosystems and their production of goods and services. This increasing world-wide phenomenon is associated with temperature anomalies, high irradiance, pollution, and bacterial diseases. Recently, it has been demonstrated that personal care products, including sunscreens, have an impact on aquatic organisms similar to that of other contaminants.

Objectives: Our goal was to evaluate the potential impact of sunscreen ingredients on hard corals and their symbiotic algae.

Methods: In situ and laboratory experiments were conducted in several tropical regions (the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, and the Red Sea) by supplementing coral branches with aliquots of sunscreens and common ultraviolet filters contained in sunscreen formula. Zooxanthellae were checked for viral infection by epifluorescence and transmission electron microscopy analyses.

Results: Sunscreens cause the rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals, even at extremely low concentrations. The effect of sunscreens is due to organic ultraviolet filters, which are able to induce the lytic viral cycle in symbiotic zooxanthellae with latent infections.

Conclusions: We conclude that sunscreens, by promoting viral infection, potentially play an important role in coral bleaching in areas prone to high levels of recreational use by humans.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus