Biology 2601A/B Lecture Notes - Alanine, Phototroph, Coral Bleaching

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Coral reefs are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world as well as very productive at fixing carbon. Symbiosis is the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms. In coral reefs, there is a symbiotic relationship present between an animal (coral) and a photoautotroph (algae). The algae known as zooxanthellae live within the tissue of the host coral, particularly in the gastroderm of the animal. The cnidrian reef-building corals contain zooxanthellae, which allows for the calcium carbonate skeleton. The pigments of the zooxanthellae dictate the colour of the coral. Both the algae and the coral are quite dependent upon their symbiotic relationship. This is true as tropical waters are quite nutrient-poor and the coral hosts get most of the energy produced as photosynthate from the zooxanthellae (up to 90%) in this cyclical relationship.

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