February 26, 2024

Corals Can Be “Trained” To Tolerate Heat Stress From Climate Change

A subset of corals revealing healthy pigmentation at the start of the heat-stress assay following either the lab control or variable temperature level treatment. Photos such as this were taken daily in order to track the progression of whitening during the heat-stress assay. The scientists then determined bleaching progression photographically as well as the number of days that a coral endured thermal tension prior to lightening. They discovered that the variable temperature treatment substantially enhanced coral endurance in thermal tension, on the order of several days, in contrast to the unattended corals. In addition, they found that neglected corals were more most likely to quickly surrender to disease-like signs of tissue loss.

By University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & & Atmospheric Science
March 10, 2022

While previous “stress-hardening” experiments on corals have actually made use of exposures to short-term temperature levels, the UM Rosenstiel School group examined the impact of a long-lasting, variable treatment where temperatures reached a stressful level for a brief time period, two times per day.
” This training program belongs to a professional athlete preparing for a race,” stated the research studys lead author Allyson DeMerlis, a Ph.D. student at the UM Rosenstiel School. “We were able to show that this temperature level treatment can increase the corals stamina to heat tension.”
Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) kept in a fish tank in the Experimental Reef Laboratory. Credit: Allyson DeMerlis
To perform the experiment, DeMerlis and researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and UMs Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, collected coral pieces from six unique hereditary individuals of Caribbean staghorn coral from the UM Rosenstiel Schools Rescue a Reef coral nursery and randomly assigned them to among 3 groups: (1) field control, (2) laboratory control, and (3) variable temperature level treatment. The laboratory control and variable temperature-treated corals were subjected to a three-month treatment period where the lab controls were kept at a consistent 28 degrees Celsius while the variable temperature regime corals went through varying temperatures in between 28 to 31 degrees Celsius, twice daily for 3 months.
The scientists then determined bleaching development photographically along with the number of days that a coral endured thermal tension prior to bleaching. They found that the variable temperature treatment substantially enhanced coral endurance in thermal tension, on the order of a number of days, in comparison to the without treatment corals. In addition, they found that neglected corals were most likely to rapidly catch disease-like signs of tissue loss.
The findings show the benefit of utilizing a variable temperature treatment in the laboratory setting for keeping staghorn coral over the standard static temperature levels. This may be equated in the field for repair practitioners, particularly for determining locations where their coral nurseries and outplanting sites can be exposed to more fluctuating temperatures.
” We have unfortunately reached the point where active intervention and restoration are needed to ensure that important coral reefs are able to continue for generations to come,” said Ian Enochs, senior author of the study, a coral scientist at NOAAs Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division. “We wish to increase the performance and efficacy of these efforts, and eventually make sure that the corals that are placed back out on a reef have the best chance of withstanding the demanding conditions they will deal with in the future.”
” Our findings bring a twinkle of wish to the unsure future of corals, as we recognized a treatment in which we can boost their tolerance to heat tension,” said DeMerlis.
Referral: “Pre-exposure to a variable temperature treatment enhances the response of Acropora cervicornis to intense thermal tension” by Allyson DeMerlis, Amanda Kirkland, Madeline L. Kaufman, Anderson B. Mayfield, Nathan Formel, Graham Kolodziej, Derek P. Manzello, Diego Lirman, Nikki Traylor-Knowles and Ian C. Enochs, 23 February 2022, Coral Reefs.DOI: 10.1007/ s00338-022-02232-z.
The study, entitled “Pre-exposure to a variable temperature level treatment improves the reaction of Acropora cervicornis to severe thermal tension,” was released on February 23 in the journal Coral Reefs. The research studys authors consist of: Allyson DeMerlis, Madeline Kaufman, Diego Lirman and Nikki Traylor-Knowles from the UM Rosenstiel School; Amanda Kirkland from the University of New Orleans; Anderson Mayfield, Nathan Formel and Graham Kolodziej from UMs Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Ian Enochs from NOAAs Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division; and Derek Manzello NOAAs Coral Reef Watch, Center for Satellite Applications and Research, Satellite Oceanography and Climatology Division.
The study was supported by a grant from the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.

A subset of corals revealing healthy coloration at the start of the heat-stress assay following either the laboratory control or variable temperature level treatment. Photos such as this were taken daily in order to track the development of bleaching during the heat-stress assay. Credit: Amanda Kirkland
Researchers apply difficult temperature level treatment to laboratory corals to enhance heat tolerance.
A brand-new study led by researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that corals that underwent a difficult temperature level treatment in the lab for 90 days were more tolerant to increased water temperatures.
These findings offer coral repair scientists with a new approach to potentially increase the success rate of planting nursery-raised staghorn coral onto degraded reefs as environment change continues to warm ocean temperatures, leading to more frequent coral lightening events. Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) has passed away off throughout South Florida and the Caribbean, and is listed as “threatened” on the Endangered Species Act.