Navigation Links
Physicists provide new insights into coral skeleton formation
Date:10/29/2013

An international team of scientists, led by physicists from the University of York, has shed important new light on coral skeleton formation.

Their investigations, carried out at the nanoscale, provide valuable new information for scientists and environmentalists working to protect and conserve coral from the threats of acidification and rising water temperatures.

As corals grow, they produce limestone calcium carbonate - skeletons which build up over time into vast reefs. The skeleton's role is to help the living biofilm to move towards the light and nutrients.

Understanding the calcification mechanism by which these skeletons are formed is becoming increasingly important due to the potential impact of climate change on this process.

The scientists looked at the smallest building blocks that can be identified a microstructure called sphemlites by making a thin cross-section less than 100 nanometres in thickness of a skeleton crystal. They then used Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) to analyse the crystals in minute detail.

The TEM micrographs revealed three distinct regions: randomly orientated granular, porous nanocrystals; partly oriented nanocrystals which were more granular and porous; and densely packed aligned needle-like crystals.

These different regions could be directly correlated to times of the day - at sunset, granular and porous crystals are formed, but as night falls, the calcification process slows down and there is a switch to long aligned needles.

Corresponding author Rene van de Locht, a final-year PhD student with the Department of Physics at the University of York, says, "Coral plays a vital role in a variety of eco-systems and supports around 25 per cent of all marine species. In addition, it protects coastlines from wave erosion and plays a key role in the fisheries and tourism industries. However, the fundamental principles of coral's skeleton formation are still not fully understood.

"It has been suspected for some time that the contrast bands seen in crystals in optical images were daily bands. Through our research we have been able to show what the crystals actually contain and the differences between day and night crystals."

The research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the University of York, and concentrated on three species of tropical, reef-building coral - Porites lobata, Siderastrea sidereal, Montastrea annularis.

The experimental work was carried out at the University of York's Department of Physics and the York JEOL Nanocentre, as well as the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis (MCA) at the University of Western Australia.

Lead investigator Dr Roland Krger says, "Although we knew there was a difference between day and night crystals, we've actually been able to see the evolution from granular to aligned needles and to find out much more information about the phase, orientation and size of the aragonite crystals."

The York researchers are now turning their attention to looking directly at the affects of acidification. Their latest research studies five-day old coral larvae and compares a population from a normal sea water environment with another in an acidic environment.

The aim is to investigate the nanoscale impacts of the different environments at early growth stage to assess how these could affect the whole colony and the bigger reef.


'/>"/>

Contact: Caron Lett
david.garner@york.ac.uk
44-019-043-22029
University of York
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Physicists explore properties of electrons in revolutionary material
2. Biophysicists unravel secrets of genetic switch
3. Physicists decode decision circuit of cancer metastasis
4. Reproductive health providers should discuss environmental exposure risks with patients
5. Research on flavanols and procyanidins provides new insights into how these phytonutrients may positively impact human health
6. Artificial wetlands can provide benefits over the long haul
7. Discovery provides blueprint for new drugs that can inhibit hepatitis C virus
8. Heightened Security Threats and Economic Issues Provide Fillip to Global Civil and Military Biometrics Market, Says Frost & Sullivan
9. Bowman provides strategies to engage public with climate change solutions
10. Scientists provide first large-scale estimate of reef shark losses in the Pacific Ocean
11. Fruit flies provide new knowledge about uninhibited cell growth
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/26/2016)... Research and Markets has announced ... 2016-2020"  report to their offering.  , ,     (Logo: ... analysts forecast the global multimodal biometrics market to ... period 2016-2020.  Multimodal biometrics is being ... the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, and government for ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016  A new ... make more accurate underwriting decisions in a fraction ... timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance policies ... screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing ... lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... AVIV, Israel , April 14, 2016 ... Behavioral Authentication and Malware Detection, today announced the appointment ... already assumed the new role. Goldwerger,s leadership ... BioCatch, on the heels of the deployment of its ... addition, BioCatch,s behavioral biometric technology, which discerns unique cognitive ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... A person commits a crime, and the detective ... the criminal down. An outbreak of foodborne illness ... (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down the bacteria that ... It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used a complex, cutting-edge ... illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole genome sequencing is ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation ... increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class ... across 15 countries. Read More About the Class of ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network for ... Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is to ... are designed, built and brought to market. , The Design Lab is Supplyframe’s ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, ... 1 clinical trials of its complement C3 inhibitor, ... and multiple ascending dose studies designed to assess ... of subcutaneous injection in healthy adult volunteers. ... either as a single dose (ranging from 45 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: