Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers discover new family of Atlantic corals, upset prior coral classifications

26.02.2004


Provides new look at conservation of threatened coral species



An international research team has identified a family of corals found only in the Atlantic Ocean-a first for such classifications in that ocean-in a study that could transform how corals are viewed and classified. The scientists, who will publish their results in the Feb. 26 issue of the journal Nature, say the findings are also important for future decisions about coral conservation and the preservation of threatened biodiversity regions.

Led by Nancy Knowlton of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California, San Diego, the study revealed significant flaws in the widely accepted taxonomy of Pacific and Atlantic corals. The team, which included researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, used DNA analysis to uncover a significant and previously undetected divergence between Pacific and Atlantic corals. Unexpectedly, the researchers found that about one-third of Atlantic corals, which had been conventionally classified in two distinct families found around the tropics, are in fact very closely related. But, the report says, the Atlantic corals are very different from Pacific corals assumed to be their close relatives. The two corals are so distinct, the scientists suggest the Atlantic variety constitutes its own family, making them the first such grouping unique to the Atlantic Ocean.


"If genetic sequencing of two families of corals can produce a major revision in our understanding," said H. Richard Lane, director of the National Science Foundation’s geology and paleontology program, which funded the research, "one can only imagine what kinds of changes will happen once sequencing is accomplished across the entire spectrum of the biotic world." NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

The DNA results contradict accepted classifications based on the evolutionary form and structure, or morphology, of corals. Calculating when the Atlantic lineage originated is difficult, the scientists say, because the results now call into question the identity of many fossilized corals. The best records indicate that the dominant Atlantic and Pacific lineages probably separated more than 34 million years ago. Indeed, the team’s further analysis of corals from the Caribbean, Brazil, Japan, Taiwan and Palau found entire lineages misclassified.

While the results carry implications beyond the upheaval and realignment of coral classification systems, the study also suggests current Atlantic coral conservation efforts should be reconsidered.

"Corals are important organisms because of the reefs they build, which support the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet. But these new results are not simply that the coral taxonomy is completely wrong," said Knowlton, director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps. "These results require us to think about conservation priorities in a really different way."

Conservation priorities have been heavily focused on the Pacific Ocean because more coral species live there. Biodiversity "hot- spot" analyses, however, have ignored deeper-level diversity because Atlantic corals were assumed not to be particularly distinctive, say the scientists.


The Smithsonian Institution, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the Conselho Nacional de Pesquisas also funded the research.

Cheryl Dybas | NSF
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov
http://www.nsf.gov/home/news.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines
20.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik

nachricht Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees
20.11.2018 | Universität Leipzig

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.

Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees

20.11.2018 | Life Sciences

When AI and optoelectronics meet: Researchers take control of light properties

20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>