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Thermal Stress and Resilience of Corals in a Climate-Changing World

by Rodrigo Carballo-Bolaños 1,2,3, Derek Soto 1,2,3 and Chaolun Allen Chen 1,2,3,4,5,*
1
Biodiversity Program, Taiwan International Graduate Program, Academia Sinica and National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei 11529, Taiwan
2
Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei 11529, Taiwan
3
Department of Life Science, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei 10610, Taiwan
4
Department of Life Science, Tunghai University, Taichung 40704, Taiwan
5
Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2020, 8(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse8010015
Received: 5 December 2019 / Revised: 13 December 2019 / Accepted: 20 December 2019 / Published: 24 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Resilience)
Coral reef ecosystems are under the direct threat of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases, which increase seawater temperatures in the oceans and lead to bleaching events. Global bleaching events are becoming more frequent and stronger, and understanding how corals can tolerate and survive high-temperature stress should be accorded paramount priority. Here, we review evidence of the different mechanisms that corals employ to mitigate thermal stress, which include association with thermally tolerant endosymbionts, acclimatisation, and adaptation processes. These differences highlight the physiological diversity and complexity of symbiotic organisms, such as scleractinian corals, where each species (coral host and microbial endosymbionts) responds differently to thermal stress. We conclude by offering some insights into the future of coral reefs and examining the strategies scientists are leveraging to ensure the survival of this valuable ecosystem. Without a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a divergence from our societal dependence on fossil fuels, natural mechanisms possessed by corals might be insufficient towards ensuring the ecological functioning of coral reef ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: thermal stress; coral resilience; bleaching events; thermally-tolerant symbionts; acclimatisation; adaptation; heterotrophy; climate change thermal stress; coral resilience; bleaching events; thermally-tolerant symbionts; acclimatisation; adaptation; heterotrophy; climate change
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Carballo-Bolaños, R.; Soto, D.; Chen, C.A. Thermal Stress and Resilience of Corals in a Climate-Changing World. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2020, 8, 15.

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