Saturday, April 20, 2024

Some Coral May Be More Resilient To Heat Waves Thanks To Memory


Oregon State University scientists have found that some coral species may be more resilient to the effects of marine heat waves due to memory.

The study found that corals seem to have an ecological memory, and once a coral has experienced and survived a heatwave, it can do so again due to remembering how to survive the heat wave. The study’s scientists think this ability is linked to the microbial communities that live amongst the corals.

According to the study’s lead author, Alex Vompe:

“It is vital to understand how quickly reefs can adapt to ever more frequent, repeated disturbances such as marine heat waves…But Acropora retusa, a prevalent coral species in the Mo’orean coral reef that we studied, appears to have a powerful ecological memory response to heat waves that the microbiome seems to play a role in…This means some coral species may be more resilient to climate change than previously thought.”

While the head of the lab conducting the research, microbiology professor Rebecca Vega Thurber stated:

“We observed that some species of coral seem to remember exposure to past marine heat waves and maintain a higher level of health in subsequent heat waves…And Acropora retusa’s memory response was strongly linked to changes in its microbiome, supporting the idea that the microbial community has a part in this process…Members of coral microbial communities have unique biological features that make them more adaptable and responsive to environmental change – short generation cycles, large population sizes and diverse metabolic potential…In two of the three coral species we focused on, we identified initial microbiome resilience, host and microbiome acclimatization, or developed microbiome resistance to repeated heat stress. The latter two patterns are consistent with the concept of ecological memory.”

 You can find the original research here.

Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy is a TDI/SDI Instructor Trainer, and PADI Staff and Trimix Instructor. Diving for 28 years, a dive pro for 14, I have traveled extensively chasing my passion for diving. I am passionate about everything diving, with a keen interest in exploration, Sharks and big stuff, Photography and Decompression theory. Diving is definitely the one and only passion that has stayed with me my whole life! Sam is a Staff Writer for