Nitrogen-fixing bacteria may contribute to coral bleaching

21 April, 2017

In our latest publication, we join forces with our close collaborators at the University of Bremen to investigate the functional role nitrogen fixing microbes play in coral bleaching. By exposing corals to sugar enrichment, we stimulated nitrogen fixation of coral-associated microbes in the absence of heat and light stress. Strikingly, corals showed a distinct bleaching response similar to heat-induced bleaching. We attribute this phenomenon to alterations in symbiotic nutrient cycling within the coral holobiont due to excess nitrogen availability from nitrogen fixation. Based on these observations, we propose a new model integrating the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria into prevailing mechanistic theories of coral bleaching. 
Click the link below to the full story published in Global Change Biology!