What zooxantelas are
Zoxantants are photosynthetic single-celled organisms, specifically microalgae, which live in symbiosis with different species of marine animals.Among their main hosts are various species of coral, gorgon, anemones, sea sponges, some jellyfish and bivalve molluscs. These single-celled algae belong to the dinoflagellate group and are found within the fabrics of marine hostesses.
They are known with the term Latin Zooxanthellae, although it really does not form a taxonomic category, so its use is almost colloquial.
Symbiosis of zooxantelas
The symbiosis of zooxantelas is a highly specialized mutual association between photosynthetic algae and their marine hosts, such as corals, anemones and other invertebrates. In this symbiotic relationship, both sides benefit and depend on each other for their survival and success.
Symbiosis begins when zooxants, present in the surrounding water, are captured by marine hosts. The algae are encompassed by the cells of the hoster’s tissue and are established in special compartments called zooxlassomes. There, the algae multiply and are kept protected within the host’s tissue structures.
Zoxantants benefit from the symbiotic relationship by receiving protection from the hostile marine environment, including predators and sudden changes in temperature. In addition, marine hosts provide a source of nutrients, as they release organic waste products that algae can use as nutrients for growth and reproduction.