Navigation Links
New indicator uncovered that can predict coral health

Honolulu, HI A new indicator of coral health has been discovered in a community of microscopic single-celled algae called dinoflagellates. The study, released in the July 8th edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that a particular type of these algae renders corals more susceptible to disease.

"Corals are fascinating organisms whose survival is dependent on dinoflagellates that live inside the coral's tissue," says lead author Michael Stat, an assistant researcher at the Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "The relationship between these dinoflagellates and corals has long been considered mutually beneficial, with the dinoflagellates supplying the coral with food via photosynthesis in return for recycled nutrients and shelter. Over the last 20 years it has been made clear that there are many different types of dinoflagellates in corals and that the unions or symbiosis between a given coral and their dinoflagellates can be very specific."

It had previously been considered that all dinoflagellates found in coral are equally beneficial to their coral host, but in this study Stat, along with HIMB researchers Ruth Gates and Emily Morris, present evidence that a particular type of dinoflagellate can be found in corals that are diseased or show evidence of having had a disease.

"We show that this same symbiont, called "clade A", does not produce as much food that can be used by the coral as other types of coral dinoflagellates," says Stat. "We suggest that because these coral are not receiving enough food they become more prone to disease."

The researchers sampled corals that appeared healthy and corals that appeared diseased from French Frigate Shoals in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). By using genetic analyses, they were able to identify the type of dinoflagellate that was present in each of these corals. They found that the healthy coral contained one type of dinoflagellate and the diseased coral contained a different type of symbiont.

"We have discovered that a group of diseased corals in the NWHI associate with a type of endosymbiotic algae that has never been found in Hawaiian corals before," says co-author Ruth Gates, an Associate Researcher at HIMB. "Our analyses suggest that these endosymbiotic algae are not providing the coral with nutrition and that the corals may be starving, making them more susceptible to disease."

To mimic the inside of coral tissue, they performed lab-controlled experiments looking at the amount of carbon produced and released by different coral dinoflagellates in an artificial environment. They found that the dinoflagellate found in healthy coral produced large amounts of carbon that it released into the outside environment, making it available to a coral as a source of food. In contrast, the dinoflagellate found in diseased coral produced a very small amount of carbon and did not release any to the outside environment to make available to a coral host as a source of food.

"Just as we have tests for human diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis, we now have the ability to screen corals for disease susceptibility," says Gates. "This discovery is a key finding that will contribute to the conservation and protection of ecologically important corals in Hawaii and elsewhere."

"This work shows for the first time that different types of coral dinoflagellates are not equally beneficial, and that there is a link between the type of dinoflagellate and coral disease," says Stat. "We also suggest that some dinoflagellates living inside coral may be acting more as a parasite than a mutualistic symbiont. The next stage in our research is to further understand the range of interactions between coral and dinoflagellates and to determine whether some types are directly harming the coral and acting as parasites."


Contact: Tara Hicks
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Related biology news :

1. Technical report explores role of lichens as bioindicators
2. Poxvirus potency uncovered in new atomic map
3. Anthrax cellular entry point uncovered
4. Hemoglobin uncovered
5. Agent that triggers immune response in plants is uncovered
6. Predicting the distribution of creatures great and small
7. New studies predict record land grab as demand soars for new sources of food, energy and wood fiber
8. New NOAA coral bleaching prediction system calls for low level of bleaching in Caribbean this year
9. Counting tumor cells in blood predicts treatment benefit in prostate cancer
10. Molecular clock could predict risk for developing breast cancer
11. Rainfall and river networks prove accurate predictors of fish biodiversity
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
New indicator uncovered that can predict coral health
(Date:6/27/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... their offering. The report forecasts ... grow at a CAGR of 12.28% during the period 2016-2020. ... market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the ... report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in ...
(Date:6/22/2016)...  The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics was ... as one of the fastest-growing trade shows during the Fastest ... in Las Vegas . ... in each of the following categories: net square feet of ... attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 out ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... ANGELES , June 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... identity management and verification solutions, has partnered ... edge software solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service ... provides products that add functional enhancements ... partnership provides corporations and venues with an ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)...  Alex,s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a leading national ... a state-of-the-art bioinformatics lab, using ,big data, to advance ... as Liz Scott , co-executive director of ALSF ... in Washington, D.C. , hosted by ... advocate of pediatric cancer research and awareness. ...
(Date:6/27/2016)...  Global demand for enzymes is forecast to ... $7.2 billion.  This market includes enzymes used in ... production, animal feed, and other markets) and specialty ... and beverages will remain the largest market for ... products containing enzymes in developing regions.  These and ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM Inc. (TSX-V: BRM) ("Biorem" or ... its major shareholders, Clean Technology Fund I, LP and ... based venture capital funds which together hold ... a fully diluted, as converted basis), that they have ... entire equity holdings in Biorem to TUS Holdings Co. ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... to enabling healthier lives through the development of innovative ... of the United States denied ... that the claims of Sequenom,s U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540 ... eligibility criteria established by the Supreme Court,s Mayo Collaborative ...
Breaking Biology Technology: