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Coral toolkit allows floating larvae to transform into reef skeletons

Corals are the sum of a symbiotic relationship between cnidarian animals and millions of single-celled algae that live inside their tissues. These symbiotic algae photosynthesize and provide the energy corals need to build their skeletons. In turn, the skeletons form the structure and framework of coral reefs that provide habitat to fish and other animals. Coral reefs are so large they can be seen from space, and generate goods and services valued on the order of billions of dollars annually. Researchers from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Rutgers University and the University of Haifa identified key and novel components of the molecular “toolkit” that allow corals to build their skeletons (called biomineralization) and described when—in the transformation from floating larvae to coral skeleton—these components are used.

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