Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

DNA testing to help save corals

Date:
May 23, 2014
Source:
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST
Summary:
To avert coral demise, experts report the establishment of DNA markers that might be applicable to all species of theAcroporareef-building coral, giving accurate identification to individual corals. The technique, similar to DNA profiling in humans, enables scientists to study genetic diversity and connectivity among theAcroporacoral populations, thus finding clues to help with the conservation of coral reef ecosystems in waters around the world.

This photo comes from the Coral Reef Preservation and Restoration Project by the Okinawa Prefectural Government (Maeganeku, Onna). Coral reefs occupy only one percent of the ocean floor, but they are home to as much as a quarter of all described marine species in the world.
Credit: Dr. Yuna Zayasu

"We are seriously tackling conservation of coral reefs in Okinawa," said Dr. Chuya Shinzato of the OIST Marine Genomics Unit. Coral reefs face various extinction risks. To avert coral demise, Shinzato is providing his expertise to the Coral Reef Preservation and Restoration Project spearheaded by the Okinawa Prefectural Government. In a paper published in Frontiers in Marine Science, Shinzato and colleagues reported the establishment of DNA markers that might be applicable to all species of the Acropora reef-building coral, giving accurate identification to individual corals. The technique, similar to DNA profiling in humans, enables scientists to study genetic diversity and connectivity among the Acropora coral populations, thus finding clues to help with the conservation of coral reef ecosystems in waters around Okinawa and the world.

Related Articles


Coral reefs occupy only one percent of the ocean floor, but they are home to as much as a quarter of all described marine species in the world. Despite their importance, corals face a range of grave risks today, from bleaching triggered by increasing seawater temperatures, to sediment loads caused by terrestrial erosion from land development, to predation by crown-of-thorns starfish. In order to improve coral conservation and restoration efforts, it is important to increase diversity so that all coral in one area is not susceptible to the same destructive force. Diversity also helps to build reefs more robust to environmental changes than those composed of a few individual corals.

In this study, Shinzato and his team used the Acropora coral, the most common coral genera in the Indo-Pacific. They have 113 species that inhabit waters from the Red Sea through the Indian and Pacific Oceans to the Caribbean. There are four distinct groups of the Acropora coral, with a major evolutionary split occurring around 6.6 million years ago. The researchers first looked at the sequenced genome of Acropora digitifera andAcropora tenius, which belong to the two most distantly related groups. The team then located multiple repeated DNA sequences, called microsatellites in their respective genome. The number of repeats that appear differs between individual corals.

In order to detect microsatellites commonly present in the two Acroporaspecies used in the study, the researchers used a process called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), using a pair of flanking DNA sequences that extend to either side of the microsatellite region. The distance between these neighboring sequences, called primers, differs between each individual coral due to the number of times the microsatellites are repeated, providing valuable information on the relatedness of different individuals. However, the development of microsatellite DNA markers remains time consuming, expensive, and labor intensive since the markers are often species specific. Despite these drawbacks, Shinzato and colleagues developed 14 microsatellite DNA markers found in two of the most diverse Acroporaspecies. Since the 14 markers have been conserved during their evolution dating back to 6.6 million years ago, the researchers assert that these markers should also be present in all of the other 111 species of Acropora corals. The study spares scientists the time and labor of creating markers for the other 111 species and serves as a powerful research tool to identify individual corals, thus contributing to population genetics studies and conservation of Acropora corals.

The work has direct implications for Okinawa. Since the Acropora coral is the most common coral in the area, the study can be applied to most of Okinawa's coral reefs. Already, the Okinawa Prefectural Government has taken steps to preserve and regenerate corals in nearby waters by employing this technology to increase genetic diversity in coral plantation.

"I truly hope the technique we have developed will contribute to coral reef transplantation and restoration," said Shinzato. The markers established by the OIST team can be applied to all Acropora corals in the world. The study may pave a way for global restoration of the rich coral reef ecosystems that are suffering.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chuya Shinzato, Yuki Yasuoka, Sutada Mungpakdee, Nana Arakaki, Manabu Fujie, Yuichi Nakajima, Nori Satoh. Development of novel, cross-species microsatellite markers for Acropora corals using next-generation sequencing technology. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2014.00011

Cite This Page:

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST. "DNA testing to help save corals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140523082638.htm>.
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST. (2014, May 23). DNA testing to help save corals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140523082638.htm
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - OIST. "DNA testing to help save corals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140523082638.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

AP (Nov. 22, 2014) Hundreds of volunteers joined a 'shovel brigade' in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, as the city was living up to its nickname, "The City of Good Neighbors." Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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