Symbiosis, where different species live together for prolonged periods, is ubiquitous and extremely important on coral reefs. The most important symbiosis is between corals and the microalgae (zooxanthellae) that live in their cells, without which coral reefs would not exist. This chapter focuses on the diversity of zooxanthellae, the linkage with coral calcification and the nutrition of the symbiosis, particularly the supply of photosynthetically fixed carbon to coral, and the conservation and recycling of essential nutrients (especially nitrogen and phosphorus) by this symbiosis. The acquisition and breakdown of the symbiosis, particularly under thermal stress (i.e. coral bleaching), is described. Other important coral–microbe symbioses involve cyanobacteria, heterotrophic bacteria, viruses, protozoans and endolithic algae and fungi that live in the coral skeleton. Symbioses between sponges and bacteria or algae are also important, as are the iconic associations between fish and various invertebrates (e.g. the sea anemone–anemonefish symbiosis) or other fish species.
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