PerspectiveGenomics

Can genomes predict coral bleaching?

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Science  17 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6501, pp. 249-250
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc9342

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Summary

Coral reefs provide more than 1 billion people with food and income, yet these vital ecosystems are at risk because of rising ocean temperatures. Warming can induce coral bleaching, the breakdown of symbiosis between the coral animal and the photosynthetic algae that live within their cells, which can ultimately lead to coral death. Predicting which coral individuals are most tolerant to warming temperatures is essential to effective conservation plans. On page 268 of this issue, Fuller et al. (1) use genomic tools to predict bleaching outcomes for Acropora millepora corals. In doing so, they provide an integrative framework to advance predictions of climate change resilience on coral reefs, leading to more informed conservation and restoration efforts.

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