Can algae hookups help corals survive? Rice biologists’ discovery can be used to help climate-challenged reefs survive for now — ScienceDaily

A little more sexy time for symbionts could help coral reefs survive the trials of climate change. And that, in turn, could help us all.

Researchers at Rice University and the Spanish Institute of Oceanography already knew the importance of algae known as dinoflagellates to the health of coral as the oceans warm, and have now confirmed the tiny creatures not only multiply by splitting in half, but can also reproduce through sex.

That, according to Rice marine biologist Adrienne Correa and graduate student Lauren Howe-Kerr, opens a path toward breeding strains of dinoflagellate symbionts that better serve their coral partners.

Dinoflagellates not only contribute to the stunning color schemes of corals, but critically, they also help feed their hosts by converting sunlight into…

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