Reef-building corals have a symbiotic relationship with Symbiodinium algae, and environmental stressors that cause algae to be expelled from reefs can give rise to the phenomenon known as coral bleaching.
New research indicates that singlet oxygen, which is a reactive oxygen species, may play an important role in triggering the release of algae from coral tissue when coral bleaching occurs.
"The findings may help research efforts aimed at protecting reefs, which help support many marine species," said Dr. Imre Vass, senior author of the New Phytologist study.
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Ateeq Ur Rehman et al. sp. cells produce light-induced intra- and extracellular singlet oxygen, which mediates photodamage of the photosynthetic apparatus and has the potential to interact with the animal host in coral symbiosis, New Phytologist (2016). DOI: 10.1111/nph.14056