Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ventilation for corals: Symbiosis with damselfish brings great advantages for coral growth

19.05.2017

Many stony corals live in close partnership with different species of damselfish. Reef ecologists from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) in Bremen (Germany) have now taken a closer look at this symbiosis and discovered a previously unknown advantage for the corals. The fish support the corals in their photosynthesis, which is important for coral growth. The study has just been published in the Journal of Experimental Biology and was also featured in Nature Magazine’s research highlights.

Coral reefs are highly complex communities with multifaceted interrelations and dependencies, many of which are not yet thoroughly studied. The mutually beneficial symbiosis between clownfish and anemones is well known: the fish provide nutrients to their host while at the same time finding a place to hide from predators inside the anemone.


Red Sea dascyllus among the branches of a Stylophora coral

Nur Garcia, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research


Red Sea dascyllus among the branches of a Stylophora coral

Nur Garcia, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research

The same advantages are attributed to the symbiosis between damselfish and stony corals. It is strikingly noticeable, however, how tirelessly the damselfish flick their fins when they are hiding among the coral branches. They display this behaviour not just during the day, but also whilst sleeping at night.

Ecologist Nur Garcia and her colleagues from the ZMT have studied this symbiosis in more details. In the Red Sea near Eilat (Israel) they observed the damselfish, Dascyllus marginatus, which frequently resides inside colonies of the branching Stylophora pistillata coral. “More than 30% of the fish’s time is spent among the coral branches”, explains Garcia. “Often a dozen damselfish or more are gathering like a cloud above the football-sized coral.”

In the lab the scientists brought fish and corals together in a respiration chamber to measure respiration and photosynthesis rates. Garcia obtained some unexpected results: Even a single damselfish intermittently visiting the coral increased the photosysnthesis rate of Stylophora by up to 6% a day. Corals that live in symbiosis with damselfish can thus potentially grow considerably faster.

Tiny algae living inside the tissue of stony corals are responsible for the photosynthesis. Their products such as high-energy sugars are beneficial for the corals, allowing them to build the large calcium carbonate structures typical for tropical reefs. During the night corals take up oxygen, in the daytime they emit it during photosynthesis. If an excess of oxygen accumulates, a particular enzyme essential for photosynthesis is inhibited in its activity.

“By flicking its fins the damselfish improve the water circulation as well as the supply and removal of oxygen, which is extremely important in areas of low flow such as lagoons enclosed by reefs,” says Dr. Sebastian Ferse, a reef ecologist who headed the study at the ZMT.

The symbiosis could also have a positive effect during coral bleaching. Stressful conditions such as increased water temperatures can lead to the production of oxygen radicals by the coral, which foster bleaching. The fin flicking can aid in the removal of such radicals.

“However, increased overfishing could spell doom for the symbiosis”, cautions Ferse. “If damselfish predators, i.e. bigger fish, are increasingly caught, the damselfish do not need to hide among the corals any longer."

"The symbiotic damselfish are also popular ornamental fish and are caught for the marine aquarium trade. In the Thousand Islands archipelago near Jakarta several species have already disappeared,” says Ferse.

Contact:
Dr. Sebastian Ferse | Leiter AG Nutzung, Resilienz und Diversität von Korallenriffen
Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
Email: sebastian.ferse@leibniz-zmt.de | Tel: 0421 - 238 00-28
Bis Montag, den 22.5.17 zu erreichen unter: 0049 (0) 157 72379259

Dr. Susanne Eickhoff | Presse-und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
Email: susanne.eickhoff@leibniz-zmt.de | Tel: 0421 - 238 00-37

About the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research
In research and education the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) in Bremen is dedicated to the better understanding of tropical coastal ecosystems. As an interdisciplinary Leibniz institute the ZMT conducts research on the structure and functioning of tropical coastal ecosystems and their reaction to natural changes and human interactions. It aims to provide a scientific basis for the protection and sustainable use of these ecosystems. The ZMT works in close cooperation with partners in the tropics, where it supports capacity building and the development of infrastructures in the area of sustainable coastal zone management. The ZMT is a member of the Leibniz Association.

Weitere Informationen:

http://jeb.biologists.org/content/220/10/1803
https://www.nature.com/articles/n-12293530

Dr. Susanne Eickhoff | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.leibniz-zmt.de

Further reports about: Marine Photosynthesis Tropenforschung ZMT coastal ecosystems coral growth ecosystems

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nesting aids make agricultural fields attractive for bees
20.07.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht The Kitchen Sponge – Breeding Ground for Germs
20.07.2017 | Hochschule Furtwangen

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>