Whether symbionts from more heat-resistant corals could transfer heat resistance to more vulnerable individuals.
Transplanting microbes from some corals to others could help the corals survive high temperatures!
Microbe of the episode
Microbe of the episode: Streptomyces olivaceoviridis
The ever-rising temperatures of our modern world are putting more and more stress on various ecosystems. This is true even on the ocean floor: record-high temperatures damage reefs by causing coral bleaching, in which corals lose their photosynthetic endosymbionts. If conditions do not improve, these corals eventually die.
Corals have microbial symbionts other than the phototrophs, also. We know from ourselves and from plants that microbes can have big effects on their hosts, so it seemed worth testing whether symbionts from more heat-resistant corals could transfer heat resistance to more vulnerable individuals. Recipients of this treatment did show enhanced heat resistance, but the microbial community composition did not always change after the treatment.