Navigation Links
Less is more for reef-building corals
Date:8/28/2012

Researchers at the University of Hawaii Manoa (UHM) School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) made a discovery that challenges a major theory in the field of coral reef ecology. The general assumption has been that the more flexible corals are, regarding which species of single celled algae (Symbiodinium) they host in coral tissues, the greater ability corals will have to survive environmental stress. In their paper published August 29, 2012, however, scientists at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) at SOEST and colleagues documented that the more flexible corals are, the more sensitive to environment disturbances they are.

"This is exactly the opposite of what we expected," said Hollie Putnam, PhD candidate at UHM and lead author of the study. This finding was surprising, as it is thought corals exploit the ability to host a variety of Symbiodinium to adapt to climate change. "Our findings suggest more is not always better," she continued.

"The relationship of coral species to their algal symbionts is fundamental to their biology," says David Garrison, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Ocean Sciences, which funded the research. "This study gives us a new understanding of how corals are likely to respond to the stresses of environmental change."

Reef corals are the sum of an animal (host), and single celled algae that live inside the corals' tissues (also called 'endosymbionts'). This is a mutually beneficial arrangement the coral provide protection and keep the algae in shallow, sunlit seas; and the algae produce large amounts of energy through photosynthesis, which coral use to survive and build their skeletons. The stability of this symbiosis is critical to the survival of corals and if they lose their endosymbionts they bleach and often die. Corals can host different types of endosymbionts, which affects their response to stress.

Putnam and other scientists from Dr. Ruth Gates' laboratory at HIMB took tiny tissue samples from 34 species of coral in Moorea, French Polynesia. By analyzing the DNA from the endosymbionts in these samples, they were able identify the types of Symbiodinium. This revealed that some corals host a single Symbiodinium type that is the same in all individuals of that coral species, and that others host many types that vary among individuals within a coral species.

"The corals we sampled spanned a range of environmental sensitivities from resistant to susceptible, and we were able to link, for the first time, patterns in environmental performance of corals to the number and variety of symbionts they host," reported Putnam. These patterns show that corals hosting diverse Symbiodinium communities, those that are flexible with respect to endosymbionts (termed 'generalists'), are environmentally sensitive. In contrast, environmentally resistant corals were those that associate with one or few specific types of Symbiodinium (termed 'specifists').

"Coral reefs are economically and ecologically important, providing a home for a high diversity of organisms necessary for food supplies, recreation, and tourism in many countries. The better we understand how corals respond to stress, the more capable we will be to forecast and manage future reefs communities," said senior author Professor Ruth Gates. Coral reefs can undergo mass mortality due to high temperatures, and ocean acidification is threatening the capacity for skeletal growth. These global stressors are superimposed on the local threats of pollution, coastal development and overfishing, together threatening the persistence of corals as a functional ecosystem in the future.

In the future, the Gates Lab will examine what causes the differences in success between corals that are flexible and inflexible in their Symbiodinium associations and compare the symbiotic flexibility in corals and reefs across much larger areas in locations such as Hawaii, Moorea, Taiwan and American Samoa. This further understanding will allow better predictions of the future of reefs under further ocean warming and acidification.


'/>"/>

Contact: Marcie Grabowski
mworkman@hawaii.edu
808-956-3151
University of Hawaii ‑ SOEST
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Pacific islands may become refuge for corals in a warming climate, study finds
2. Corals could survive a more acidic ocean
3. Some corals like it hot: Heat stress may help coral reefs survive climate change
4. Breaking up isnt hard to do -- the secret lives of corals on dark and stormy nights
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Less is more for reef-building corals
(Date:3/31/2016)... 2016   LegacyXChange, ... "Company") LegacyXChange is excited to release its ... to be launched online site for trading 100% guaranteed ... will also provide potential shareholders a sense of the ... an industry that is notorious for fraud. The video ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... Florida , March 29, 2016 ... the "Company") LegacyXChange "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased ... in ink used in a variety of writing instruments, ... Buyers of originally created collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange ... forensic analysis of the DNA. Bill ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... , March 22, 2016 ... research report "Electronic Sensors Market for Consumer Industry by ... & Others), Application (Communication & IT, Entertainment, ... - Global Forecast to 2022", published by ... is expected to reach USD 26.76 Billion ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/27/2016)... Jersey and READING, ... -- Indegene ( http://www.indegene.com ), ... marketingorientierten Lösungen für die Life-Science-Branche, Pharmaunternehmen und ... bekannter weltweiter Anbieter von innovativen wissenschaftlichen Support-Services ... des Starts von IntraScience heute den Ausbau ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... -- Q BioMed Inc. (OTCQB: QBIO), a biotechnology ... presenter at the 5th Annual Marcum MicroCap Conference on Thursday, ... at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. The Company,s ... is scheduled to begin at 11a.m ET in the Broadway ... developments and outline milestones for the balance of 2016 and ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... are used in leading laboratories all over the globe. Their cute firefly logo ... to manufacturing awesome cuvettes, FireflySci makes spectrophotometer calibration standards that never require recalibration. ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Founder of the Fitzmaurice Hand ... and surgery of the hand by the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons, ... and beyond in his pursuit of providing the most comprehensive, effective treatment for ...
Breaking Biology Technology: