'Blood Test' for Coral Reefs
Source: Science Alert
February 27, 2013
Using a world-first scientific discovery, Australian researchers are developing a stress-test for coral, to measure how coral reefs are being impacted by pressures from climate change and human activity.
The scientists have found hemoglobin genes in the microalgae which live symbiotically with coral, which may provide a readout on how stressed a particular coral is – and how likely it is to bleach and die.
Coral bleaching occurs when the symbiotic algae abandon the coral due to changes happening in the environment such as high water temperatures or pollution and, deprived of their main energy source, the corals whiten and potentially perish. Bleaching has hit more than half of the Great Barrier Reef in recent years, as well as a majority of coral reefs around the world.
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