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New research on coral reef health

June 1, 2015--UD’s Daniel (Tye) Pettay reports new evidence that Symbiodinium trenchii (S. trenchii), a stress-tolerant zooxanthellae alga found in coral communities across the Greater Caribbean, is actually an introduced species from the Indio-Pacific Ocean.

The findings appeared in the June 1 online issue of the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) in an article titled “Microbial Invasion of the Caribbean by an Indo-Pacific Coral ‘Zooxanthella.’”

Coral reefs are an important ecosystem for marine plants and animals. More than 25 percent of marine species spend a portion of their life on a coral reef, despite the fact that coral reefs cover merely one-tenth of a percent of the world’s oceans.

Corals form symbiotic relationships with single-celled algae that live in their tissues. The coral provides the algae with a protected environment in which to grow and the compounds necessary for photosynthesis. In return, the algae provide organic nutrients necessary for the coral to survive, grow and produce calcium carbonate skeletons that form the structures of coral reefs.

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