Coral polyp and algae relationship

Symbiotic Relationships in Coral Reefs | Sciencing

coral polyp and algae relationship

The mutually beneficial relationship between algae and modern corals—which provides algae with shelter, gives coral reefs their colors and. A new study shows that the relationship between coral polyps and zooxanthellae that Coral and its symbiotic algae (Todd C. LaJeunesse). Coral reef ecosystems are teeming with symbiotic relationships. Inside each coral polyp lives a single-celled algae called zooxanthellae.

The zooxanthellae capture sunlight and perform photosynthesis, providing oxygen and other nutrients to the coral polyp that aid in its survival. In turn, the zooxanthellae is provided with the carbon dioxide expelled by the polyp that it needs to undergo photosynthesis.

The presence of the zooxanthellae also provide colored pigments to help protect the coral's white skeleton from sunlight. This is a mutual symbiotic relationship that is beneficially to both participants.

Algae and Coral Have Been BFFs Since the Dinosaur Age | Smart News | Smithsonian

Using the coral skeleton as a place to anchor, these sessile, or stationary, organisms provide shelter for fish shrimp, crabs and other small animals. In both cases, the symbiosis is commensal. Sciencing Video Vault Sea anemones are also common sessile residents of coral reef.

Sea anemones are known for their mutually beneficial symbiotic relationships with clown fish and anemone fish.

Algae and Coral Have Been BFFs Since the Dinosaur Age

The tentacles of the anemones provide protection for the fish and their eggs while the anemone fish protects the anemone from predators such as the butterfly fish. They may also remove parasites from the anemone's tentacles. The corals and algae have a mutualistic relationship.

coral polyp and algae relationship

The coral provides the algae with a protected environment and compounds they need for photosynthesis. In return, the algae produce oxygen and help the coral to remove wastes. Most importantly, zooxanthellae supply the coral with glucose, glycerol, and amino acids, which are the products of photosynthesis.

When corals met algae: Symbiotic relationship crucial to reef survival dates to the Triassic

The coral uses these products to make proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and produce calcium carbonate Barnes, R. The relationship between the algae and coral polyp facilitates a tight recycling of nutrients in nutrient-poor tropical waters.

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In fact, as much as 90 percent of the organic material photosynthetically produced by the zooxanthellae is transferred to the host coral tissue Sumich, This is the driving force behind the growth and productivity of coral reefs Barnes, ; Levinton, Coral polyps, which are animals, and zooxanthellae, the plant cells that live within them, have a mutualistic relationship. Click the image to see an animation.

Coral: What is it?

In addition to providing corals with essential nutrients, zooxanthellae are responsible for the unique and beautiful colors of many stony corals. Sometimes when corals become physically stressed, the polyps expel their algal cells and the colony takes on a stark white appearance.

coral polyp and algae relationship