Who controls whom: Algae or sea anemone?

phys.org | 6/19/2019 | Staff
baileyboobaileyboo (Posted by) Level 3
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Bleached anemones—those lacking symbiotic algae—do not move toward light, a behavior exhibited by healthy, symbiotic anemones. Published in Coral Reefs, this finding from Carnegie's Shawna Foo, Arthur Grossman, and Ken Caldeira, along with Lauren Liddell of the NASA Ames Research Center, is a fascinating case study for exploring the concept of control in a symbiotic relationship.

Anemones are closely related to coral and can help scientists understand coral reef ecosystems. Like corals, they host algae that convert the Sun's energy into food by a process called photosynthesis. The algae share some of the nutrients they produce with their anemone or coral hosts.

Change - Anemones - Tenants - Phenomenon - Bleaching

"Ocean warming due to climate change is causing coral and anemones to lose their algal tenants, a phenomenon called bleaching," Caldeira said.

Anemones can capture their own food, but the nutrients provided by the photosynthetic algae allow them to survive when there isn't much available to eat—a beneficial skill in a changing climate. Many corals will die without the nutrients provided by the algae they host, making the situation particularly dire in reef communities.

Foo - Research - Something - Anemones—they - Towards

Led by Foo, this research revealed something new about bleached anemones—they do not move towards light as healthy anemones do. They found that the anemone Aiptasia sensed and moved toward white and blue light when it was hosting algae. But without an algal tenant (the symbiont), the anemone's movement was random and lacked directionality.

This finding raises an interesting question about whether the photosynthetic...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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