Home Biological science Can algae hooks help corals survive?

Can algae hooks help corals survive?

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Dinophyceae tetrad cell photographed by a Rice University scientist with a confocal microscope. It will soon be divided into 4 separate cells. The four nuclei of the cell are drawn in red. Researchers from Rice and Spain have confirmed from experiments that these symbionts from the coral colonies of Moorea, French Polynesia, can reproduce by both mitosis and sex. Credit: Correa Lab / Rice University

A little sexier time for Symbiont could help coral reefs survive the challenges of climate change. And it can help us all.

Researchers from Rice University and the Institute of Oceanography of Spain I already knew the importance of algae Known as dinophyceae for coral health as the ocean warms, it is now confirmed that the small creatures not only split in half, but also reproduce by sex.

That’s according to Rice’s marine biologist Adrian Correa and graduate student Lauren Howker. Dinophyceae Symbiont offers better service to coral partners.

Dinophyceae not only contribute to the stunning color palette of corals, but, most importantly, also help nourish the host by turning sunlight into food.

“a lot of stony coral You can’t survive without a symbion,” Hawker said. “And these symbionts have the potential to help corals respond to climate change. These dinophyceae grow for months, but the corals can only reproduce once a year. There is sex.

“So if we can adapt Symbion to new environmental conditions faster, maybe we can all help corals withstand high temperatures while fighting climate change.”

In open access research of nature Scientific reportThey wrote the conclusion that symbiotic sexuality “paves the way for the study of environmental triggers” and “accelerates the sustained evolution of major coral symbiotic organisms to combat coral reef degradation.” paddy field.

To better understand algae, Rice researchers studied the life cycle of dinophyceae and contacted Rosa Figueroa, a researcher at the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, the study’s lead author.

“We told her about the coral algae system, she taught us the sex of other dinophyceae, and we collaborated to see if we could detect the symbiotic sex on coral reefs. Trained, ”Howker said.

“In the coral dinophyceae genomic dataset, researchers would see all of the genes necessary for the coral symbiont to reproduce sexually, but not be able to see the actual cells in the process.” Says Correa, assistant professor of biological sciences. “That’s what we got this time.”

Lauren Howker (left) and Adrian Correa of ​​Rice University have discovered that symbiotic algae found in corals in French Polynesia can reproduce through mitosis and sex. This may facilitate the development of algae that better protect coral reefs from the effects of climate change.Credit: Brandon Martin / Rice University

The discovery follows sampling at the coral reef Observation of advanced algae on the island of Moorea, French Polynesia in July 2019 Confocal microscope This allows you to better visualize the 3D structure.

“This is the first evidence that these symbionts reproduce sexually when isolated on coral cells. Here are what conditions can promote sex and how to do it. We’re excited because this opens the door to see if it can be triggered, ”Hauker said. “We want to know how to use this knowledge to create more. Genetic variation .. “

“The progeny of dividing algae is essentially a clone that does not generally increase colony diversity because it inherits DNA from a single parent cell. However, the sexual offspring receives DNA from two parents. To get it, it can be processed faster. Genetic adaptation. ”

Symbiotic populations that become more tolerant of environmental stress through evolution will directly benefit corals. Protect the coastline from storms and related spills.

“These efforts are underway to try to breed corals, symbionts and other partners to enable the most stress-resistant colonies,” Correa said. “For coral symbionts, that means growing them under stressful conditions such as: high temperature And spreading what may have survived.

Sex and Symbiotic Life: Can Algae Connections Help Corals Survive?

The type of coral studied by scientists at Rice University is protected by dinophyceae (inset). Dinophyceae turn sunlight into food to nourish and protect coral reefs. This study shows that algae can reproduce through sex and paves the way for an accelerated evolution of strains capable of better protecting corals from the effects of climate change. Credit: Insert by Carsten Grupstra / Rice University. Coral images by Andrew Thurber / Oregon State University

“After the next generation, we will choose the ones that cannot tolerate these temperatures,” she said. “And now that we know that we are having sex, there are many more experiments we can do to find out which combination of conditions most often causes sex in cells. It’s a gene. You can generate symbiotes with new combinations, and hopefully respond to some of those combinations by sowing the baby corals that harbor them, depending on heat resistance and other properties required. increase symbiosis Ensure diversity and use these colonies to restore coral reefs. “


Corals may require predator droppings


For more information:
RI Figueroa et al, Direct proof of sex and hypothesis on meiosis of symbiodiniaceae, Scientific report (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-021-98148-9

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Rice University

Quote: Sex and Symbiotic Organisms: Can Algae Connections Help Coral Survival? (September 22, 2021) Retrieved September 22, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-09-sex-symbiont-algae-hookups-corals.html

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