OSU study finds herpes-like virus linked to coral bleaching

Evidence shows a virus similar to herpes is one of three outbreaks connected to the recent bleaching of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

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The findings, reported in Frontiers in Microbiology, take on special significance as the world is now experiencing just the third incidence ever recorded of coral bleaching on a global scale, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

Coral bleaching can occur when corals are exposed to stressful environmental conditions, such as warmer water, overfishing or pollution. This can cause them to expel symbiotic algae that live in their tissues and lose their color. The coral loses its major source of food and is more susceptible to disease. In severe or prolonged cases the bleaching can be lethal to the corals.


Climate change strongly affects coral reefs, according to Science Daily. Scientists are looking for ways to outsmart it. The Paul G. Allen Foundation donated $4 million to researchers at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology who are experimenting with engineering reef ecosystems, according to The Economist.

‘We’re assisting evolution,’ explains Ruth Gates, who leads the research. Her team aims to help corals withstand changing ocean temperature and chemistry. Despite all her effort, she says: ‘if the tools we develop are never used, I would be the happiest person in the world.’

(READ MORE: The Economist)

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