Research Shows Corals And Their Microbiomes Evolve Together

Source: Phys.org/Oregon State University

Photo: David Clode/Unsplash

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Corals and the microbes they host evolved together, new research by Oregon State University shows.

The findings, published today in Nature Communications, add fresh insight to the fight to save the Earth’s embattled  reefs, the planet’s largest and most significant structures of biological origin.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the study involved hundreds of samples of scleractinian corals—also known as stony corals—which since their first appearance 425 million years ago have branched into more than 1,500 .

Many of those are major builders of , which are found in less than 1 percent of the ocean but are home to nearly one-quarter of all known . Reefs also help regulate the sea’s carbon dioxide levels and are a crucial hunting ground that scientists use in the search for new medicines.

“Many corals have gone extinct during industrialization and many others are threatened with extinction,” said study co-author and OSU microbiologist Rebecca Vega Thurber, who is featured in the 2018 Oregon State University-produced documentary “Saving Atlantis.”

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Photo: David Clode/Unsplash

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