Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ritual Attracts Biologists Seeking Genomic Clues to Coral Bleaching

25.08.2004


The one-night-a-year spawning of massive star corals (Montastraea species) off of the Florida coast generates millions of infant corals, each of which has the potential to help replenish coral reefs that have undergone significant environmental damage in recent years.



Even so, the chance that these bundles of eggs and sperm released in early September will result in healthy new individuals capable of replenishing reefs depends on many factors, most importantly the establishment of symbiosis between corals and the algal symbionts that live in, and nourish, them.

That’s why Mary Alice Coffroth, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences in the University at Buffalo’s College of Arts and Sciences, and her technician, Cynthia Lewis, will travel in early September to the Florida Keys, where a team of scientists will be night-diving right alongside the millions of teeming egg-sperm bundles released from corals off of the coast of Key Largo.


They will be obtaining samples as part of the first effort to use genomic methods to discover how symbiosis is established in hard corals. "Little is known about the molecular basis for establishing and maintaining these common biological relationships, which play a key role in the formation of coral reefs," said Coffroth.

Corals survive and thrive, Coffroth explained, because of the symbiotic relationship they develop with the single-celled algae called zooxanthellae (zo-zan-thel-y) that live inside them and help supply them with food.

Coral bleaching, a loss of these algal symbionts, can result from environmental changes, such as elevated levels of sunlight and elevated seawater temperatures that interfere with these relationships, reducing algal densities in corals. "Ultimately, we want to understand why the symbiosis breaks down, causing corals to bleach," said Coffroth, who is working with other biologists and genome scientists from the University of North

Carolina at Wilmington, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, Calif., and the California Academy of Sciences. The idea behind the team’s research is to try to understand the mechanisms that determine how symbiosis is established by identifying candidate genes that control recognition between the corals and their algal symbionts. "I want to know, ’Do these corals take up just one type of algal symbiont or many?’ and ’Is the final selection genetically or environmentally determined?’" said Coffroth. "Is it that a particular algae turns on specific genes in the coral and others don’t?"

Coffroth and her colleagues will be collecting thousands of egg-sperm bundles, fertilizing them in a laboratory at UB and rearing them as developing embryos. To identify genes that are involved in the establishment of the symbiosis, they will sample the developing larvae with and without algal symbionts over time.

The zooxanthellae used to establish these symbioses were isolated by Coffroth and are part of an extensive culture collection maintained in Coffroth’s lab. "We are very lucky to have the facilities in the Department of Biological Sciences at UB to house this collection," said Coffroth. "It is one of the largest of its kind in the world."

Most of the samples will be sent to the Joint Genome Institute in California, where genomics scientists will screen them to identify genes that are being expressed during the establishment of the symbiosis.

Some of the newly settled coral larvae will be placed back on the reef where the establishment of the symbiosis and survival of these new recruits will be monitored over time. "A better understanding of host-symbiont relationships in coral-reef ecosystems can have implications for atmospheric and ocean sciences, conservation biology and the study and diagnosis of microbial diseases in corals," said Coffroth.

| newswise
Further information:
http://www.buffalo.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Exciting Plant Vacuoles
14.06.2019 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht A microscopic topographic map of cellular function
13.06.2019 | University of Missouri-Columbia

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

Im Focus: Tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome ever sequenced

Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.

The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....

Im Focus: Tiny light box opens new doors into the nanoworld

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have discovered a completely new way of capturing, amplifying and linking light to matter at the nanolevel. Using a tiny box, built from stacked atomically thin material, they have succeeded in creating a type of feedback loop in which light and matter become one. The discovery, which was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology, opens up new possibilities in the world of nanophotonics.

Photonics is concerned with various means of using light. Fibre-optic communication is an example of photonics, as is the technology behind photodetectors and...

Im Focus: Cost-effective and individualized advanced electronic packaging in small batches now available

Fraunhofer IZM is joining the EUROPRACTICE IC Service platform. Together, the partners are making fan-out wafer level packaging (FOWLP) for electronic devices available and affordable even in small batches – and thus of interest to research institutes, universities, and SMEs. Costs can be significantly reduced by up to ten customers implementing individual fan-out wafer level packaging for their ICs or other components on a multi-project wafer. The target group includes any organization that does not produce in large quantities, but requires prototypes.

Research always means trying things out and daring to do new things. Research institutes, universities, and SMEs do not produce in large batches, but rather...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Concert of magnetic moments

14.06.2019 | Information Technology

Materials informatics reveals new class of super-hard alloys

14.06.2019 | Materials Sciences

New imaging modality targets cholesterol in arterial plaque

14.06.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>