BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | ‘Hope for coral’ as oceans warm
Some coral associate only with one type of symbiotic algae, or zooxanthellae.
Others are more promiscuous, and it has been thought for some time that these may be able to switch to more heat-tolerant varieties as waters warm – a theory which the new Australian research apparently confirms.
Scientists took samples of Acropora millepora, a common Great Barrier Reef coral, and transplanted them from cooler to warmer waters by taking them to locations further north along the reef.
Some of the transplanted populations responded by taking on algal varieties able to tolerate higher temperatures.
Scientists transplanted coral between islands on the Barrier Reef
These populations developed the ability to tolerate even higher temperatures generated by heating sea water artificially in the laboratory.