Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How soft corals defy their environment: Protein favors calcite formation in aragonite sea

Date:
August 16, 2011
Source:
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU)
Summary:
Many marine organisms, including corals, build skeletons from calcium carbonate – in the form of calcite or aragonite. The current composition of seawater favors the formation of aragonite – but soft corals have a specific protein that allows them to form calcite skeletons instead.

Many marine organisms, including corals, build skeletons from calcium carbonate -- in the form of calcite or aragonite. The current composition of seawater favors the formation of aragonite -- but soft corals have a specific protein that allows them to form calcite skeletons instead.

Calcium carbonate is a salt for all seasons. It turns up not only in marble, but also in biogenic sediments such as limestone and coral reefs -- and even in pearls. The compound exists in two major crystalline forms, as calcite or aragonite. However, it is not clear what determines which variant an organism will exploit under conditions in which both forms can precipitate.

A team of researchers led by LMU geobiologist Dr. Azizur Rahman, who is also a Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, has now answered this question, in collaboration with colleagues based at the University of the Ryukyu Islands in Japan.

Together, the scientists have shown that, in the soft coral species Lobophytum crissum, a secreted, extracellular protein known as ECMP-67 is the decisive factor that results in the precipitation of calcite, irrespective of the chemical conditions prevailing in the surrounding seawater.

"Over the course of Earth's history, and most probably depending on the relative amounts of dissolved magnesium and calcium ions, either calcite or aragonite has dominated in the world's oceans," says Professor Gert W๖rheide, one of the authors of the new study. Current conditions favor the formation of aragonite, and many stony corals build their skeletons exclusively from this material. However, thanks to ECMP-67, Lobophytum crassum can still produce calcite in an aragonite sea.

"We have also been able to show how the extracellular protein ECMP-67 contributes to the production of calcite at the molecular level," says Rahman. "These findings should also allow us to elucidate the crystal structure of calcite in natural environments."

The study was funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Rahman, T. Oomori, G. Woerheide. Calcite formation in soft coral sclerites is determined by a single reactive extracellular protein. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2011; DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M109.070185

Cite This Page:

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU). "How soft corals defy their environment: Protein favors calcite formation in aragonite sea." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816120828.htm>.
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU). (2011, August 16). How soft corals defy their environment: Protein favors calcite formation in aragonite sea. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816120828.htm
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU). "How soft corals defy their environment: Protein favors calcite formation in aragonite sea." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110816120828.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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