Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pollution threatens coral health by preventing lesions from healing

20.07.2006
Coral's inability to repair tissue damage contributes to decline of reefs, can harm economy and increase hurricane risks

Coral tissue damage that normally heals on its own will not mend when the colonies are near pollution sources on land that release industrial chemicals, fuel oils and other contaminants, a University of Central Florida biologist and several colleagues have found.

UCF associate professor of biology John Fauth and scientists from the National Coral Reef Institute, Broward County Department of Environmental Protection, the College of Charleston and Nova Southeastern University tracked how quickly coral regenerated lost tissue from lesions they created while collecting samples.

Scientists have long been concerned about declining coral reef health off the southeastern Florida coast, in the Florida Keys and worldwide. The World Research Institute's Reefs at Risk program has listed coastal development and treated wastewater discharge as chronic problems along Florida's southeast coast.

The loss of coral harms natural reef ecosystems and can hurt Florida's tourism economy if divers decide to go elsewhere. Reefs also help to protect coastal areas from hurricanes, as they break up storm surge in the same manner that sea walls do.

"We're losing places where animals can hide and fish can feed," Fauth said. "And reefs where people dive are being degraded."

Tissue samples from mustard hill coral were taken from eight Broward County sites, including near-shore and offshore locations at each of four sites: a City of Hollywood treated wastewater outfall, the Port Everglades inlet mouth, a second outfall next to a mouth of the Hillsborough Inlet and control sites away from outfalls and inlets.

Fauth and his colleagues used the equivalent of blood tests on humans to identify likely causes of low coral vitality near wastewater discharge pipes and the Port Everglades inlet. Coral that were growing near both areas were unable to repair tissue damage, while coral colonies at control sites healed the small areas where the scientists removed tissue for analysis.

Coral growing near land-based sources of pollution were found to be stressed by chemical contaminants, including elevated levels of fungicides, industrial chemicals and fuel oils.

The total tissue loss was highest near the City of Hollywood wastewater outfall and was moderately high at the Port Everglades and Hillsborough Inlet stations. Coral in those areas also regenerated either at an extremely slow rate or not at all, indicating that conditions there were poor for coral growth and reproduction.

High levels of a protein known as GRP 75, or mortalin, were found in samples near the Hollywood wastewater outfalls and in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Excessive levels of ubiquitin, a small protein that attaches itself to already damaged proteins and causes them to degrade more, also were found at those sites.

At three offshore sites, elevated levels of a multidrug resistance protein were found. That helps the coral defend itself against contaminants, but it is metabolically costly for coral to produce, leaving less energy available to repair damaged tissue.

Fauth's team is sharing data with Professor Michael Risk of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and marine ecologist Brian LaPointe of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce. Risk and LaPointe used ratios of stable isotopes of nitrogen as tracers of sewage levels. Higher values equate to larger amounts of sewage in an area. Risk and LaPointe found higher levels of the tracers than in any other area of Florida that they have studied, which Risk described as a "real cause for concern."

Nitrogen pollution can be caused by the discharge of treated wastewater effluent, and it leads to poor coral growth and algal blooms.

Coral samples in Fauth's project were analyzed at Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Amherst, Va.

"We're doing the same thing as a medical examiner," Fauth said. "It's possible that corals are being stressed by pollution, and we're trying to find out what stresses them and how it's affecting coral health."

If the researchers can determine the specific causes of pollution that are harming coral, it then will be up to governments, organizations and residents to decide whether it's worth the cost of solving whatever problems are discovered. Solutions include additional treatment of storm-water runoff and wastewater discharges and enforcing regulations on industries that are likely causing pollution.

Tom Evelyn | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucf.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>