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

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.


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

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