The zooxanthellae live within the coral in a mutualistic relationship. The corals provide a protective environment and compounds for photosynthesis. In return, the zooxanthellae produce oxygen, essential nutrients and beautiful colours.
If these zooxanthellae algae cells are expelled from stress, the coral’s vibrant colour will fade and the host will die shortly afterwards. The potential loss of these coral ecosystems will have devastating effects for reef-dependent species as well as the considerably large human population that depends on coral reef resources for economic and food security.

A. Healthy zooxanthellae in coral tissue.
B. Bleached coral with zooxanthellae expelled from coral tissue.

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