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 Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides
16.07.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

nachricht The secret sulfate code that lets the bad Tau in
16.07.2018 | American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino

16.07.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides

16.07.2018 | Life Sciences

New research calculates capacity of North American forests to sequester carbon

16.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>