Navigation Links
Physicists provide new insights into coral skeleton formation

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
University of York

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:
(Date:6/3/2016)... 3, 2016 Das ... Nepal hat ein 44 ... geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung und IT-Infrastruktur, ... Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. Zahlreiche renommierte ... Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde als konformste ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... 2016 Favorable Government Initiatives Coupled ... Criminal Identification to Boost Global Biometrics System Market Through ... Research report, " Global Biometrics Market By Type, ... Opportunities, 2011 - 2021", the global biometrics market is ... account of growing security concerns across various end use ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... , a brand of Troubadour Research & ... Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables survey. A particular ... a program where they would receive discounts for sharing ... "We were surprised to see that so many ... CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because there are segments ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. is pleased to announce ... Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI approval of the Peel ... President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate methods perform comparably to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a university competition that asks ... systems and biotechnology, announced its winning teams at the ... York City . The teams, chosen ... MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during the daylong summit. Keynote ... of architecture and design, and Suzanne Lee , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, ... of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design ... of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Durham, NC (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... Odense University Hospital in Denmark detail how a patient who developed lymphedema after being ... (fat) tissue. The results could change the paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent ...
Breaking Biology Technology: