Contact: Barbra Gonzalez
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Caption: Using a highly sensitive genetic technique, Ph.D. student Rachel Silverstein analyzed 39 coral species from DNA collected in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean collected over the last 15 years. Most of these species had not previously been thought capable of hosting more than one type of the single-celled symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae, which live inside the coral and help to supply them with energy. Silverstein's results revealed that at least one colony of all 39 species tested had at least two varieties of algae, including one thought to be heat tolerant. Over half of the species were found to associate with all four of the major types of algae found in corals. The study, titled "Specificity is rarely absolute in coral-algal symbiosis: implications for coral response to climate change," was published in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
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