Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Corals can reestablish symbiosis with algae from their environments after bleaching

04.06.2004


Research published in Science demonstrates potential resilience of corals


UB researchers, working with the Caribbean octocoral, Briareum sp., have found that corals can recover from bleaching (inset).
Credit: University at Buffalo



Corals can develop new symbiotic relationships with algae from their environments after they’ve undergone bleaching, the process by which corals whiten as a result of environmental stress, University at Buffalo biologists report in the current issue of Science.

The research provides evidence that corals may have multiple mechanisms that facilitate recovery from bleaching induced by environmental stresses.


Scientists have known that corals can recover from bleaching episodes, but they did not know why.

It has not been clear whether recovery resulted from the few remaining symbiotic algae, or algal symbionts, remaining within the coral tissue since early development, or if coral could acquire entirely new ones from their aquatic environments.

Corals survive and thrive because of the symbiotic relationship they develop with the single-celled algae called zooxanthellae (zo-zan-thel-y), which live inside them and help supply them with food.

But certain environmental stresses, such as high or low light or sea temperatures, can lead to a reduction in algal densities or loss of pigmentation, leaving the coral’s white skeleton visible through the clear tissue.

"Our data show that corals have the potential to take up new symbionts, providing a mechanism for resilience in the face of environmental change," said Mary-Alice Coffroth, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences in UB’s College of Arts and Sciences, and senior author on the paper.

Coffroth and her co-author, Cynthia L. Lewis, who recently received her master’s degree in biological sciences from UB, induced bleaching in gorgonian soft corals (a type of sea rod common to Caribbean reefs) by keeping them in darkness in the laboratory.

After 12 weeks of darkness, cell densities of symbionts in the coral had plunged to less than one percent of their population density when the corals were healthy.

During the six weeks following ’bleaching,’ the corals were exposed to algal symbionts that were added to the aquarium water.

The researchers found that at the end of this period, symbiont cell densities within the coral showed a significant increase, demonstrating that the coral animals were able to establish symbiotic relationships with these new, or exogenous, algae.

"We found cell densities within the coral had increased between nine and 31 times the level measured immediately following the bleaching episode," said Lewis.

"The symbiosis had begun to reestablish itself," added Coffroth.

The UB researchers caution that the survival of individual colonies and populations of coral should not be construed as a demonstration that an entire ecosystem is healthy.

"Nevertheless, these data demonstrate that these animals may have the resilience to recover from bleaching episodes," said Coffroth.


The coral used in the research was harvested from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the laboratory work was conducted at the Keys Marine Laboratory in Long Key, Florida.

The work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB’s more than 27,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs.

Ellen Goldbaum | University at Buffalo
Further information:
http://www.buffalo.edu/news/fast-execute.cgi/article-page.html?article=67500009

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>