Navigation Links
Corals 'could survive a more acidic ocean'
Date:4/2/2012

Corals may be better placed to cope with the gradual acidification of the world's oceans than previously thought giving rise to hopes that coral reefs might escape climatic devastation.

In new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change, an international scientific team has identified a powerful internal mechanism that could enable some corals and their symbiotic algae to counter the adverse impact of a more acidic ocean.

As humans release ever-larger amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, besides warming the planet, the gas is also turning the world's oceans more acidic at rates thought to far exceed those seen during past major extinctions of life. This has prompted strong scientific interest in finding out which species are most vulnerable, and which can handle the changed conditions.

In groundbreaking research, a team of scientists from Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, at the University of Western Australia and France's Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, has shown that some marine organisms that form calcium carbonate skeletons have an in-built mechanism to cope with ocean acidification which others appear to lack.

"The good news is that most corals appear to have this internal ability to buffer rising acidity of seawater and still form good, solid skeletons," says Professor Malcolm McCulloch of CoECRS and UWA. "Marine organisms that form calcium carbonate skeletons generally produce it in one of two forms, known as aragonite and calcite.

"Our research broadly suggests that those with skeletons made of aragonite have the coping mechanism while those that follow the calcite pathway generally do less well under more acidic conditions."

The aragonite calcifiers such as the well-known corals Porites and Acropora have molecular 'pumps' that enable them to regulate their internal acid balance, which buffers them from the external changes in seawater pH.

"But the picture for coral reefs as a whole isn't quite so straightforward, as the 'glue' that holds coral reefs together coralline algae appear to be vulnerable to rising acidity," Professor McCulloch explains.

Also of concern is that a large class of plankton, floating in the open oceans and forming a vital component of marine food webs, appears equally vulnerable to acidification. If so, this could be serious not only for marine life that feeds on them but also for humans, as it could impair the oceans' ability to soak up increased volumes of CO2 from the atmosphere. This would cause global warming to accelerate.

Ironically, an added plus is that warming oceans may increase the rates of coral growth, especially in corals now living in cooler waters, he says.

However, the big unknown remaining is whether corals can adapt to global warming, which is now occurring at an unprecedented rate at about two orders of magnitude faster than occurred with the ending of the last Ice Age.

"This is crucial since, if corals are bleached by the sudden arrival of hot ocean water and lose the symbiotic algae which are their main source of energy, they will still die," he cautions.

"It's a more complicated picture, but broadly it means that there are going to be winners and losers in the oceans as its chemistry is modified by human activities this could have the effect of altering major ocean ecosystems on which both we and a large part of marine life depend."

The researchers conclude "Although our results indicate that up-regulation of pH at the site of calcification provides corals with enhanced resilience to the effects of ocean acidification, the overall health of coral reef systems is still largely dependent on the compounding effects of increasing thermal stress from global warming and local environmental impacts, such as terrestrial runoff, pollution and overfishing."


'/>"/>

Contact: Malcolm McCulloch
Malcolm.McCulloch@uwa.edu.au
61-086-488-1921
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Rare corals breed their way out of trouble
2. Cold water corals conference to be held in Woods Hole
3. 4 years after tsunami: Corals stage comeback
4. Global sunscreen wont save corals
5. Help for climate-stressed corals
6. Corals stay close to home
7. Nursery programs for corals receive TLC from NOAA this Independence Day
8. Ancient corals hold new hope for reefs
9. New study sheds light on corals susceptibility to temperature change
10. Not a fish story: Protected corals increase fishing profits
11. Baby corals dance their way home
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/14/2017)... , June 15, 2017  IBM (NYSE: IBM ) ... international tech event dedicated to developing collaboration between startups and ... on June 15-17. During the event, nine startups will showcase ... value in various industries. France ... the international market, with a 30 percent increase in the ...
(Date:5/16/2017)...   Bridge Patient Portal , an enterprise ... EMR Systems , an electronic medical record solutions ... established a partnership to build an interface between ... Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice Solution (CPS), Centricity ... new integrations will allow healthcare delivery networks using ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... New York , April 19, 2017 ... competitive, as its vendor landscape is marked by the ... the market is however held by five major players ... Safran. Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% of ... of the leading companies in the global military biometrics ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/19/2017)... ... ... Biopharma ’s CEO and founder, Dr. Bob Harman DVM, MPVM, is featured in an interview ... Rising Tide". Dr. Harman and Dr. Riordan met in 2003 and have remained in ... of stem cell therapy and a fast friendship was formed. , Dr. Harman has been ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... , Sept. 19, 2017 ValGenesis Inc., ... (VLMS) is pleased to announce the strategic partnership with ... provide clients with validation services using the latest technology ... VTI will provide clients with efficient and cost-effective validation ... marketing partner for the ValGenesis VLMS system. ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... ... September 19, 2017 , ... ... Financial Services (NYS DFS) cybersecurity regulations have transitioned into full force ... organizations operating in the state (“Covered Entities”) to conduct an annual, professional, ...
(Date:9/18/2017)... ... September 18, 2017 , ... Scholarly publisher ... the SPIE Digital Library ( http://www.spiedigitallibrary.org ) on 15 August to a new ... user experience and incorporate a number of enhancements and new features, the website ...
Breaking Biology Technology: