Near reefs, microbial mix dictated by coral and algae

Coral and seaweed choose the bacteria that float in the waters above tropical reefs, a study of marine microbes suggests.

Microbial ecologist Linda Kelly of… San Diego State University and colleagues examined microbes from the water just above 22 coral reefs. The organisms that claim the most real estate on the reef, coral or algae, determine which species of microbe live in the water, the researchers report June 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Photo caption: INVISIBLE HORDES  Bacteria live in the waters above coral-dominated reefs, such as this one in the Pacific Ocean’s Line Islands. But if algae and seaweed take over a reef, the mix of microbes changes and may include bacteria that can damage coral.

Tina Hesman Saey, Sciencenews

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