Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Corals and sponges communicate by using their metabolism

08.01.2016

An international research team, jointly led by Prof. Dr. Christian Wild (Marine Ecology, University of Bremen), Dr. Malik Naumann (Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology, ZMT), Dr. Jasper de Goeij (University of Amsterdam), und Dr. Dick van Oevelen (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, NIOZ) recently made a surprising discovery on coral reefs: a new link in the food web between corals and sponges. Interestingly, this food web linkage apparently not only exists in tropical, shallow warm-water reefs, but also in deep-sea cold-water corals reefs.

These interesting findings have now been published in the prestigious multidisciplinary journal Scientific Reports (http://www.nature.com/articles/srep18715) by lead author Dr. Laura Rix, who recently obtained her PhD from University of Bremen.


Laura Rix working underwater

Dr. Malik Naumann


Maintenance of corals for collecting mucus

Laura Rix

The researchers found that coral mucus, which is continuously released by corals in large quantities, is rapidly taken up by neighboring sponges. This is remarkable, because the majority of this coral mucus immediately dissolves in the water and is microscopically small. Consequently, this energy- and nutrient-rich mucus cannot be consumed by most other organisms living on the reef.

Sponges, however, exhibit the unique ability to transfer the energy and nutrients in dissolved coral mucus to other reef organisms. Via a process called “sponge loop”, they transform invisible dissolved organic matter into visible particles.

They do this via extremely fast cell turnover rates, which result in the release of cell pellets. These pellets can then be used as food source by many different reef organisms (e.g. worms, snails, crabs, sea stars), enabling the energy and nutrients in coral mucus to transferred back into the coral reef food web.

The team of scientists made this discovery by carrying out a series of parallel experiments at research stations in Jordan at the Red Sea and in Sweden at the north Atlantic – two extremely different locations more than 3000 km apart from each other.

Corals and sponges were collected in Jordan from 5-10 m water depth by SCUBA divers and in Sweden from water depths of more than 100 m using a remotely operated vehicle. Despite the pronounced differences in the two locations, the experimental results were very similar. The coral mucus was always readily taken up by the sponges, and very rapidly 20-40 % of this ingested material was transformed into particulate pellets.

The exiting aspect of this discovery is that this newly discovered food web link between corals and sponges functions similarly in both shallow warm-water and deep-sea cold-water coral reefs, acting to preserve precious energy and nutrients for many reef organisms. This is particularly important because food and nutrients are very scarce on warm- and cold-water coral reefs.

The newly discovered food web link between two key coral reef organisms thereby supports the functioning of entire reef ecosystems both in warm shallow tropical and cold deep temperate waters helping them to thrive in food and nutrient limited environments.

Publication: Rix et al. Coral mucus fuels the sponge loop in warm- and cold-water coral reef ecosystems. Sci. Rep. 5, 18715; doi: 10.1038/srep18715 (2015)

Further information

Prof. Dr. Christian Wild
Marine Ecology
Faculty of Biology & Chemistry (FB2)
Universität Bremen
Leobener Str. NW2
D-28359 Bremen
Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)421 218-63367
Fax: +49 (0)421 218-62949
Email: christian.wild@uni-bremen.de

www.uni-bremen.de

Eberhard Scholz | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>