To see what coral reefs have already evolved into warmer waters, Meibom and his colleagues want to determine the size of the rocks and their hardy network, called holobiont, which cannot be tolerated. He likens it to measuring the strength of a steel belt: How long can you stretch it before it breaks? And how long does it take to get it back on track?
Karine Kleinhaus, who studies gemstones at Stony Brook University, says it is important to understand how these gemstones work in cells. “These amazing corals will be among the last survivors,” he said. “We need to know what he’s doing, what’s going on, how he’s doing it.”
In their experiments, the researchers grew S. pistillata the aquaria series called the Red Sea Simulator. All types of salts can be modified to adapt to water levels and to display salts, algae, and bacteria at different temperatures at different times. The researchers then investigated which corals were regularly present, how they changed the temperature, and how the function returned to normal after the temperature dropped.
They found that all three living creatures were able to adapt to changing species. For example, coral used genes involved in protein reactions, a mechanism used to detect natural stress and keep homeostasis in the cell; in some studies, they were referred to as corals’ first line of defense against heat. Meanwhile, algae have opposed the introduction of genes involved in photosynthesis. Elsewhere, the Red Sea species can survive until temperatures exceed 5 degrees Fahrenheit[5 ° C]. Their bravery compares their stability to the most complete athlete who can recover quickly after a workout and prepare for another challenge.
Andréa Grottoli, professor at the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State University, said: “This paper is an excellent work and sheds light on the first stages of thermal stress. Just because a gene has been modified does not mean that the rocks have produced new protein. It is a sign that the rocks are responding in its place, but that is not the whole story – you may want to know exactly how the chemical changes that cause it to change, and how corals change.
Grottoli also points out that the longevity of the study, up to seven days, is much shorter than most hot waves. “Most natural events take place in two months,” he says.
Meibom admits that his research does not explain how the newly introduced genes can help corals survive, but that identification is part of the process. “It gives a picture of what’s going on.”
It is also unknown why these rocks have this temperature but some do not. It may not be because they adapted to the hot climate of the Red Sea, but because they came from a very hot climate. Meibom says it is probably related to which species filled the Red Sea during the last winter, 20,000 years ago. Water from around the equator evaporates and eventually freezes. When all the water was covered with ice, the water receded, and the Red Sea crossed the Arabian Sea, turning it into a sea. The water receded and the salt accumulated, making it an unpleasant place. But as the glaciers melted and the seabed repaired, fresh water and living things flooded in. This included coral reefs in the Arabian Sea, which rose slowly from the hot southern waters. The only species that were converted to heat were healthy enough to send their larvae north to return to the Gulf of Aqaba. “They were elected. It’s like a filter, ”said Meibom.