Zooxanthellae Genome Decoded for First Time

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The Marine Genomics Unit of Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology Graduate University (OIST) has decoded the genome of the algae Symbiodinium minutum. The Marine Genomics Unit of Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology Graduate University (OIST) has decoded the genome of the algae Symbiodinium minutum.  In 2011, the Marine Genomics Unit decoded the approximately 420-megabase genome of the coral Acropora digitifera for the first time. The OIST group has now succeeded in establishing for the first time the genomic information of both the coral host and the symbiont. This information will greatly facilitate research on coral biology. For example, it will be possible to investigate whether corals or symbionts, respond first to environmental changes such as seawater temperature rise. Similarly, researchers can examine if corals respond to different stresses via a similar molecular mechanism or different mechanisms. These areas of research are greatly facilitated by both genomes being decoded in the same laboratory. read more

Coral reef collapse NOT inevitable, new study concludes

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According to findings in a May 9 article in Current Biology, coral reefs are in decline, but their collapse can still be avoided with local and global action.   To predict the reefs’ future, the researchers spent two years constructing a computer model of how reefs work, building on hundreds of studies conducted over the last 40 years. They then combined their reef model with climate models to make predictions about the balance between forces that will allow reefs to continue growing their complex calcium carbonate structures and those such as hurricanes and erosion that will shrink them. read more

Double Whammy

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A Chinese boat that ran into a coral reef in the southwestern Philippines held evidence of even more environmental destruction inside: more than 22,000 pounds of meat from a protected species, the pangolin or scaly anteater.   The steel-hulled vessel hit an atoll April 8 at the Tubbataha National Marine Park, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site on Palawan island. Coast guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo said yesterday that 400 boxes, each containing 25 to 30 kilograms of frozen pangolins, were discovered during a second inspection of the boat Saturday.   Source article can be found here. 

Cooling Ocean Temperature Could Buy More Time for Coral Reefs

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Limiting the amount of warming experienced by the world’s oceans in the future could buy some time for tropical coral reefs, say researchers from the University of Bristol.  The study, published by the journal Geophysical Research Letters, used computer models to investigate how shallow-water tropical coral reef habitats may respond to climate change over the coming decades. Dr. Elena Couce and colleagues found that restricting greenhouse warming to three watts per square metre (equivalent to just 50-100 parts per million carbon dioxide, or approximately half again the increase since the Industrial Revolution) is needed in order to avoid large-scale reductions in reef habitat occurring in the future. read more

New study suggests that coral skeleton morphology may determine bleaching susceptibility

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A new study may answer the question of why some corals bleach and others do not, even when exposed to the same environmental conditions.  The study suggests that the corals themselves play a role in their susceptibility to deadly coral bleaching due to the light-scattering properties of their skeletons. A team from Northwestern University and The Field Museum of Natural History found that reef-building corals scatter light in different ways to the symbiotic algae that feed the corals. Corals that are less efficient at light scattering retain algae better under stressful conditions and are more likely to survive. Corals whose skeletons scatter light most efficiently have an advantage under normal conditions, but they suffer the most damage when stressed. read more