In this paper, I review data on the magnitude and extent of reef coral bleaching events and consider modern hypotheses on the mechanisms of this natural phenomenon and experimental data lying at their basis. Four possible mechanisms of color loss by hermatypic corals have been confirmed experimentally: bacterial infection, change of zooxanthellae type in the polyps to improve the heat resistance of the photosynthetic function of coral to elevated seawater temperature, intoxication of zooxanthellae by animal metabolic wastes at high temperature and light levels, and thermal and photodestruction of the animal and algal cells. The heating effect of photosynthetic active radiation on the zooxanthellar cells in coral polyps was verified theoretically. The calculations showed that in the natural environment, the additional light-induced heating of zooxanthellae is not above 0.01°C and that it cannot cause disruption of the animal and zooxanthellae symbiosis.
Russian Journal of Marine Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 13, 2004
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