Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers find microbes key to reef survival

04.09.2017

In a paper published in the September 2017 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change, a consortium of marine biology researchers outline the mechanisms that might underlie adaptation to climate change in reef corals. Predicting the ability of coral reefs to survive changes in climate requires understanding coral animals--the foundation species of these ecosystems--and how parental provisioning, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, and changes in the microbiome contribute to their adaptive response.

The marine biology researchers, from 11 institutions in five different countries, gathered at a recent workshop to assess the fate of coral reefs in the face of climate change.


Red Sea reefs are known for their remarkable coral cover and orange fish, Anthias species, swarming at the reef crests.

Credit: © 2016 Anna Roik

Participants at the conference included Gergely Torda and Philip Munday from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and Manuel Aranda, Michael Berumen, Timothy Ravasi and Christian Voolstra from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

"The clock is ticking. If we look at the Great Barrier Reef, more than 30% of the corals may already be dead. Understanding these mechanisms is becoming increasingly important if we want to help these ecosystems. If not now, then when?" asked Aranda.

The health of the world's coral reefs is of particular concern because of their high social, ecological and economic value, as well as their sensitivity to environmental change. "Climate change is happening; oceans are warming and ocean chemistry is changing with detrimental effects on coral reefs," said Ravasi.

"All animals and plants associate with microbes and form so-called metaorganisms. In particular, coral metaorganisms rely on their microbial partners for survival. These microbes hold the promise to contribute to host physiology and can quickly adjust under changing environmental conditions, thereby helping the coral to adapt," said Voolstra.

The team focused on stony, reef-building corals, calling them "ecosystem engineers," because they form the framework of the reef, providing shelter, food and habitat for countless other living things. Loss of reef-building corals therefore leads to declines in the diversity and abundance of other reef organisms and ultimately the collapse of the entire ecosystem.

In their paper the team identified eight potential research directions that could help clarify how coral reefs might adapt or acclimatize to environmental change. The team advised researchers to explore different forms of plasticity in corals and other reef organisms using well-designed, strictly controlled experiments.

They also stressed the importance of demonstrating how epigenetic mechanisms and marks--the ability of the parent's environment to alter the gene expression of the offspring--relate to phenotypes in corals. They also emphasized the importance of understanding the relative contribution of parental provisioning, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms and changes in the microbiome to adaptive responses in corals. The other directions placed importance on developing model organisms, understanding the flexibility of coral-microbial associations, improving models of mechanism interaction, and determining the pace of genetic adaptation.

The concept of plastic responses and epigenetics are increasingly "hot" topics as the effects of climate change become more evident in ecosystems around the world.

"In these rapidly developing fields, it is important to occasionally step back and brainstorm with colleagues to share ideas, to discuss what has worked and what hasn't, and to identify the most promising directions to answer challenging questions," Berumen said. "This paper is the outcome of a very productive workshop and hopefully it will be useful as more and more people focus research efforts in these directions."

###

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

KAUST advances science and technology through distinctive and collaborative research integrated with graduate education. Located on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia, KAUST conducts curiosity-driven and goal-oriented research to address global challenges related to food, water, energy and the environment. Established in 2009, KAUST is a catalyst for innovation, economic development and social prosperity in Saudi Arabia and the world. The university currently educates and trains over 900 master's and doctoral students, supported by an academic community of 150 faculty members, 400 postdocs and 300 research scientists. With 100 nationalities working and living at KAUST, the university brings together people and ideas from all over the world. Visit kaust.edu.sa for more information.

Media Contact:

Michelle Ponto
Michelle.ponto@kaust.edu.sa
+966544701668

http://kaust.edu.sa/ 

Michelle Ponto | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>