- Scientists found that coral-algal partnerships have endured numerous climate change events since the age of dinosaurs.
- Their relationship with algae has endured numerous climate change events in the past.
- The relationship between corals and the mutualistic micro-algae that enable them to build reefs is considerably older and more diverse than previously assumed, according to a study published in the journal Current Biology.
- Past estimates placed the initiation of these symbiotic relationships at 50 to 65 million years ago.
- The micro-algae, commonly called zooxanthellae, lives inside the cells of corals, allowing them to acquire energy from sunlight and to build the massive, economically valuable reef formations.
- Finding that the origin of the algal symbionts corresponds to major increases in the abundance and diversity of reef-building corals implies that the partnership with Symbiodiniaceae was one of the major reasons for the success of modern corals.
- The team used genetic evidence — including DNA sequences, phylogenetic analyses and genome comparisons — to calculate the micro-algae’s approximate age of origin.