Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How corals fight back

Date:
August 18, 2010
Source:
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Summary:
Researchers are a step closer to understanding the rapid decline of our coral reefs, thanks to a breakthrough study linking coral immunity with its susceptibility to bleaching and disease.

Australian researchers are a step closer to understanding the rapid decline of our coral reefs, thanks to a breakthrough study linking coral immunity with its susceptibility to bleaching and disease.
Credit: Image courtesy of ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies

Australian researchers are a step closer to understanding the rapid decline of our coral reefs, thanks to a breakthrough study linking coral immunity with its susceptibility to bleaching and disease.

Related Articles


The discovery was made by Caroline Palmer, Bette Willis and John Bythell, scientists from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (Queensland) and Newcastle University (UK).

"Understanding the immune system of reef-building corals will help to reduce the impact of coral diseases and environmental stresses," says Caroline Palmer, lead author of the publication. "Potentially, this will enable us to more accurately predict the vulnerability of coral reefs to disease and bleaching, before there are obvious signs of stress."

"This unique study broadens the limited knowledge we have about the defence systems of corals, which is one of the main challenges facing scientists aiming to protect corals" says Professor Bette Willis, a chief investigator in the ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies. "Identifying and measuring the immune functions of several different corals allows us to predict which ones are particularly susceptible to stress."

"Variation in levels of immune function among different species is likely dependent on the energy they assign to it. As energy is vital for an effective immune response, corals that utilise energy to grow and reproduce rapidly have less to spare for their immune response," says Caroline Palmer. "These corals, like the staghorns, Acropora, are the colonies most vulnerable when challenged by temperature stress or disease."

A key element of the coral immune system is melanin production. Melanin, a classic part of immune responses found in invertebrates, also provides a defence against disease-causing organisms in corals. It may also be used to stop harmful UV light from reaching the symbiotic algae and causing bleaching.

The study of coral immunity will enable scientists to better preempt the effects of different stresses on corals. This is important, as by the time physical symptoms become apparent, strategies to mitigate stress effects will be far less valuable.

"Our increased understanding of coral immune systems may therefore be used to address the causes rather than the symptoms of coral declines," says Caroline Palmer. Bette Willis adds: "This approach is necessary particularly given that coral bleaching is similar to having a fever -- it's a common sign for many different stresses so it's often difficult to point to any one cause in particular."

Two of the main factors that cause corals to bleach are attacks by disease-causing microbes and temperature stress. It is currently estimated that between three and six per cent of corals in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are affected by coral diseases, and up to a third of corals at a given location can be affected by temperature stress in a warm year. Temperature stress is a growing concern due to global warming.

Researchers and reef managers are currently working on strategies to protect vulnerable coral sites. The preventive measures envisioned involve minimising human impacts which might further injure the coral, such as dredging, building construction, pollution, land runoff or damaging corals by boat activity or fishing.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Palmer et al. Levels of immunity parameters underpin bleaching and disease susceptibility of reef corals. The FASEB Journal, 2010; 24 (6): 1935 DOI: 10.1096/fj.09-152447

Cite This Page:

ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "How corals fight back." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100818105728.htm>.
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. (2010, August 18). How corals fight back. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100818105728.htm
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "How corals fight back." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100818105728.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
5 Hot Months, 1 Warm Year And All The Arguments To Follow

5 Hot Months, 1 Warm Year And All The Arguments To Follow

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) The NOAA released statistics Thursday showing October was the fifth month this year with record temps and 2014 will likely be the hottest on record. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nations Pledge $9.3 Bn for Green Climate Fund

Nations Pledge $9.3 Bn for Green Climate Fund

AFP (Nov. 20, 2014) Nations meeting in Berlin pledge $9.3 billion (7.4 bn euros) for a climate fund to help poor countries cut emissions and prepare for global warming, just shy of a $10bn target. Duration: 00:46 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins