Coral Development May Benefit From Climate Change

by Nellie J

An international study undertaken by an Australian university, has found that the fluctuating temperature patterns and rising acidity levels caused by man made climate change, can have both positive and negative side effects upon the development of coral reefs.

On the downside of this seemingly encouraging report… Rising levels of acidity messes with the formation of skeletons in young corals.

More acidic ocean messes with the skeleton formation process.

WARMER oceans will have both positive and negative effects on coral development, a massive international study has found.   The study, undertaken by scientists from James Cook University (JCU) in Queensland, France, the Netherlands and South Korea, involved 250 million “reads” of coral genetic material and tested the effects of increased carbon dioxide levels.

JCU Professor David Miller says the study found some surprising results about the calcification of coral skeletons.

“We found the rising acidity had little effect on the production of ion transport proteins that are responsible for circulating and depositing the calcium carbonate within the coral cells to form its skeleton,” he said.

“These seemed largely unaffected under high CO2.”

However, Prof Miller said the team discovered increased and decreased expressions of the genes necessary for creating coral skeletons.

“Overall it means that a more acidic ocean messes with the skeleton formation process in young corals in disturbing, but highly complex, ways,” he said.

Prof Miller says the results of the experiment, which are still being analysed, helped to account for the conflicting reports on the effects of acidic oceans on coral development.

The study was published in the Molecular Energy journal.

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Allthough little to nothing is known about the long term affects of rising acidity levels in our oceans due to CO2 absorption, the current trend is to cultivate more effective strategies to protect our diminishing coral reefs.

Should more be done to protect these fragile eco-systems?

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