Corals adapt to day and night

Date: 2/12/2008

Researches uncovered a gene in corals that respond to day/night cycles, providing clues into how symbiotic corals work together with their plankton partners. Corals have developed a close relationship with dinoflagellates which use sunlight to produce energy for the coral, which in turn use that energy to construct mineralised skeletons for protection. This is closely tied to the day/night cycle, though the molecular mechanism behind this synchronisation is mysterious. Researchers have now characterised the coral gene that responds to the light cycle; this gene, called STPCA, makes an enzyme that converts carbon dioxide to bicarbonate and is twice as active at night compared to during the day.

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