The microbiomes of corals — which comprise bacteria, fungi and viruses — play an important role in corals’ ability to tolerate rising ocean temperatures, according to research led by Penn State scientists.
The U.S. National Science Foundation-funded team also identified several genes in certain corals and the symbiotic photosynthetic algae that live inside their tissues that may play a role in their response to heat stress. “We know how complex coral communities are at the human visual level,” said Mike Sieracki, a program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences. “Now we’re learning that their microbial partners, which we can’t see, help sustain coral health.”
The findings could inform current coral reef conservation efforts, for example, by highlighting the potential benefits of amending coral reefs with microbes found to bolster heat stress responses.
— Read on www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp