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.
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)
Prof. Dr. Christian Wild
Faculty of Biology & Chemistry (FB2)
Leobener Str. NW2
Tel.: +49 (0)421 218-63367
Fax: +49 (0)421 218-62949
Eberhard Scholz | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
Scientists generate an atlas of the human genome using stem cells
24.04.2018 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
24.04.2018 | Information Technology
24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences
24.04.2018 | Life Sciences