In a recently published study, Stanford University biologists found that when exposed to stress, corals are subject to activate an ancient group of genes. Three coral colonies on Ofu Island, American Samoa, were studied for their reaction to stressful situations including high levels of oxygen, ocean acidity, and high temperatures. The days with highest temperatures were where a considerable difference in the activated genes was observed.
The study, conducted by Professor Stephen Palumbi and his then graduate student Lupita Ruiz-Jones, also found that these changes linked mainly with the lowering of tide levels and the rise of temperature. “This response just shows how in sync corals are with their environment,” said Ruiz-Jones. Stanford News wrote that the activation of these ancient genes is not unique to corals. This process also happens in mammals and yeast species. Diseases like cancer also stimulate human organisms into inducing the activation of the genes.
Palumbi stated that the results of the study may be used to help corals adjust to climate change. It also could be used to generate new decisions for coral reef conservation.