A world-first study has revealed that “robust” reef-building corals are the only known organisms in the animal kingdom to make one of the “essential” amino acids, which may make them less susceptible than other corals to global warming.
Using advanced genomic techniques, a team of researchers led by Dr Hua (Emily) Ying of The Australian National University (ANU) and Prof David Miller of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University (JCU), have found that the group of corals classified as “robust,” which includes a number of the brain corals and mushroom corals, have a key physiological advantage over “complex” corals, including common branching corals such as the staghorn coral.
In a new paper published today in the prestigious journal Genome Biology, the researchers report that “robust” corals possess a unique capacity to generate an “essential” amino acid.
“Amino acids are the building blocks of life,” said lead author Dr Emily Ying of the ANU Research School of Biology.
“They are crucial, for example, in repairing tissue or growing new tissue. But, generating amino acids is energetically costly for animals, so they usually only generate 11 of the 20 required for life.”
“The remaining nine amino acids are called the ‘essential’ amino acids because they must be supplied by the animal’s diet. For corals, this includes tiny drifting animals known as ‘zooplankton.’”
But this is not the only form of sustenance for corals. Through a mutually-beneficial relationship with microalgae known as Symbiodinium, corals are supplied the energy needed to build their hard skeletons.
“Symbiodinium also supplies the coral with some of the ‘essential’ amino acids, making them less dependent on their diet than other animals,” said senior author Prof David Miller of Coral CoE at JCU.
For example, when global warming causes corals to bleach, they expel their resident Symbiodinium and are therefore suddenly fully dependent on their diet to meet this nutritional requirement.
“We now know that ‘robust’ corals can make at least one of the ‘essential’ amino acids without relying on Symbiodinium. This suggests that they may be more resilient, at least in the short term, to bleaching than the ‘complex’ corals such as the branching staghorns,” explained Prof Miller.
Until now, scientists had few clues about why some corals only host a specific Symbiodinium type and others are less particular.
“Our research also suggests that ‘robust’ corals are less choosey about which species of microalgae can take up residence in the coral’s tissue. The ability to host a broader range of Symbiodinium types could facilitate more rapid acclimation to higher temperatures,” said Prof Miller.
Learn more: “Robust” corals primed to resist coral bleaching
The Latest on: Coral bleaching
via Google News
The Latest on: Coral bleaching
- Areas of coral diversity identified for conservation in Australia’s North Weston June 24, 2020 at 7:34 pm
New research has confirmed that corals reefs along the Kimberley coastline will not recover quickly from an extreme event such as mass coral ...
- Device Start-Up, Acme Revival, Propagates Coral With Recycled Medical Deviceson June 24, 2020 at 11:39 am
Acme Revival, a start-up that connects clinics and physicians with medical devices that they refurbish in-house, incorporates an atypical element to their ...
- Study: Marine-management areas can restore state’s depleted fisherieson June 22, 2020 at 3:19 am
A recent comprehensive study has found Hawai‘i’s nearshore waters need more effective management, and that a diverse, integrated system of marine-management areas can help restore the state’s ...
- Video: Divers cut, plant coral off UAE coast to build reefon June 21, 2020 at 2:42 am
The divers are building artificial reefs they hope will spur a resurgence in sea life degraded over the years by climate change and development.
- Massive coral bleaching hits Batangas waterson June 19, 2020 at 2:56 pm
Coral enthusiasts and marine conservationists on Friday raised the alarm over a “massive” coral bleaching going on across Calatagan town, Batangas province, and elsewhere ...
- A snake with a toxic surprise, the secrets of ambergris, and adapting coral to climate changeon June 19, 2020 at 1:49 pm
Biologist Ruairidh Macleod of Cambridge University in the UK discusses his research on ambergris, the mysterious waxy substance thought to be produced in the guts of sperm whales, that is used in high ...
- How coral pick the right dinoflagellateson June 19, 2020 at 8:33 am
The photosynthetic dinoflagellates share the sugars they synthesise with their coral hosts, which in turn provide the inorganic carbon building blocks the algae needs, along with phosphorous, nitrate, ...
- Divers cut, plant coral off UAE coast to build reefon June 18, 2020 at 4:54 am
Off the east coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coral freshly removed from a reef is cut into pieces and replanted by a group of divers in the waters below. The divers, from the Fujairah ...
- Low pressures, storms saved coral reefs: studyon June 15, 2020 at 8:28 pm
Cyclones Amphan and Nisarga that unleashed destruction in eastern and western India have saved the Gulf of Mannar corals from mass bleaching as windstorms along with two low pressures have ...
via Bing News