You might not normally think about what corals smell like — or how the smell changes during heat stress. However, that is what researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the University of Sydney and Southern Cross University set out to investigate on the Great Barrier Reef.
Every organism releases a distinct mix of volatile gases that makes up their smell and we are learning that these “smells” can tell us a lot about health. Some individual gases that make up the overall smell even have the ability to influence how an organism copes with stress, and once released from reefs, these gases can affect atmospheric processes.
Despite their importance, these volatile gases have received little attention in tropical coral reefs. This study is the first to explore the overall “smell” of healthy and stressed corals, identifying a distinct chemical diversity.
The research, led by Dr Caitlin Lawson in