Coral reefs form as a partnership between sea anemone-like polyps and photosynthetic algae that provides nutrients for the former and safe, well-lit shelter for the latter. But this alliance might not start off as a true joint venture. New research published online earlier this month in__ linkurl:Molecular Ecology; __indicates that symbiotic algae sneak inside coral cells in a stealth manner, rather than being actively welcomed by their coral host.
Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata)
Image: flickr/species_snob
Early in development, juvenile corals acquire a wide range of different algal strains that are later winnowed down as the coral matures. This process is important to weed out all but the select few algae that form long-term symbiotic partnerships into adulthood. But what drives the coral's initial acceptance and later purging of algae was unclear. Now, a team led by Mónica Medina of the University of California, Merced, has shown that...
Mountainous star coral
(Montastraea faveolata)

Image: M. Medina/BMC Genomics

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