Navigation Links
Rare corals breed their way out of trouble
Date:10/21/2008

Rare corals may be smarter than we thought. Faced with a dire shortage of mates of their own kind, new research suggests they may be able to cross-breed with certain other coral species to breed themselves out of a one-way trip to extinction.

This finding, released by scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, has raised hopes for the ability of the world's corals to withstand the rigors of changing climates and human impacts, says lead author Zoe Richards.

"Coral reefs worldwide face a variety of marine and land-based threats and hundreds of corals are now on the red list of threatened species. It is often assumed that rare coral species face higher risks of extinction than common species because they have very small effective population sizes, which implies that they may have limited genetic diversity and high levels of inbreeding and therefore be unable to adapt to changing conditions," Zoe says.

"When we studied some particularly rare species of Acropora (staghorn corals), which you might expect to be highly vulnerable to extinction, we found some of them were actually hybrids in other words they had cross-bred with other Acropora species. This breaks all the traditional rules about what a species is." By hybridising with other species, these rare corals draw on genetic variation in other species, increasing their own potential to adapt to changing conditions.

"At this stage how it came about and who the breeding partners are isn't entirely clear, but what is evident is that rare corals previously thought vulnerable to extinction may have more ability to adapt than initally expected" she explains.

Acropora are the main reef-builders throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and so of critical importance to the ability of reefs to cope with changing conditions. However, till now, very few clear cut examples of hybridisiation were known, and some people did not even accept that corals can cross-breed, Zoe says.

The common Acropora corals occur mainly on reef crests, flats and slopes, whereas several of the rare species occupy more marginal habitats, such as the deeper or extremely shallow water zones where the common species do not grow.

"When we looked at the genetic history of rare corals, we found that they exhibited unexpected patterns of genetic diversity. This suggests that, rather than being the dying remnants of once-common species, they may actually be coral pioneers pushing into new environments and developing new traits by virtue of the interbreeding that has enabled them to survive there.

"This is good news, to the extent that it suggests that corals may have evolved genetic strategies for survival in unusual niches and may prove tougher to exterminate than many people feared. With such tricks up their sleeve, it is even possible that the rare corals of today could become the common corals of the future."

Corresponding author Professor David Miller of CoECRS and James Cook University says the discovery is a refreshing piece of good news amid the frequently gloomy reportage about corals nowadays. "One would expect that rare corals would be especially at risk, but we've found that some appear to have developed mechanisms for coping with rarity," he says.

"Hybridising with another species actually makes a lot of genetic sense if you are rare and the next colony of your species may be hundreds of kilometres away. It suggests these creatures are far more resilient that we thought, based on what we know from the behavior of land animals."


'/>"/>

Contact: Zoe Richards
Zoe.Richards@jcu.edu.au
61-747-814-321
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. How corals adapt to day and night
2. Research expedition on corals and global warming: Aug. 17-26 in Puerto Rico
3. 1/3 of reef-building corals face extinction
4. New study shows shallow water corals evolved from deep sea ancestors
5. Everythings coming up corals
6. New study predicts where corals can thrive
7. Bikini corals recover from atomic blast
8. Stanford researchers say living corals thousands of years old hold clues to past climate changes
9. Starfish outbreak threatens corals
10. Immediate action needed to save corals from climate change
11. Wildlife Conservation Society study finds seasonal seas save corals with tough love
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2017)... N.Y. and ITHACA, N.Y. ... ) and Cornell University, a leader in dairy research, ... with bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances that ... With the onset of this dairy project, Cornell University ... Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a food ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... the first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and functional motor sense evaluation ... Genoa, Italy . The first 30 robots will be available from ... . The technology was developed and patented at the IIT laboratories ... Technology thanks to a 10 million euro investment from entrepreneur Sergio Dompè. ... ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... May 16, 2017   Bridge Patient Portal ... and MD EMR Systems , an electronic ... for GE, have established a partnership to build ... and the GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice ... These new integrations will allow healthcare ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... USDM Life Sciences , ... life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu Viswanathan and Jennifer ... “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a revolutionary approach to ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... Oct. 9, 2017  BioTech Holdings announced today ... which its ProCell stem cell therapy prevents limb ... The Company, demonstrated that treatment with ProCell resulted ... saved as compared to standard bone marrow stem ... resulted in reduction of therapeutic effect.  ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its national board meeting ... a professor in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has been selected for ... of the winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental physics for the ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... , ... October 09, 2017 ... ... on October 5, 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain Sentinel’s SPEAC® ... gold standard, video EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) using surface ...
Breaking Biology Technology: