Measures on freshly removed and homogenized polyp tissue indicate that Montipora verrucosa, Pocillopora damicornis, and Porites compressa contain 100–170 μmol dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP)˙ml–1 cellular volume of zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae
of reef corals thus appear to contain relatively high amounts of DMSP, similar to those in free-living dinoflagellates. Direct measures on pieces of coral show that the species studied contain 1–3 mmol DMSP˙m–2 of living surface area. DMSP is the principal precursor
of dimethylsulfide (DMS), a gas implicated in climate regulation. Releases of DMS from reefs—as during aerial exposure, bleaching events, or other physiological stresses—could potentially be great enough to affect local climate.
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