`Blood test` for corals to measure impact of warming

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 15:39

Sydney: Researchers are developing a "blood test" for corals to measure how they are being affected by climate change and human activity.

They found hemoglobin genes in the microalgae which live symbiotically with corals, which may provide a readout on how stressed a particular coral is - and how likely it is to bleach and die.

Hemoglobin is the red material that carries oxygen around the body in our blood supply, but in plants and algae it mops up spare oxygen and toxic gases before these harm the plant.

In corals and their algae, it may also form a vital part of the day-night energy storage system, the journal Ecology and Evolution reports.

"When the corals undergo temperature stress, this system goes into overdrive and hemoglobin genes are expressed at a higher level," says Nela Rosic of The University of Queensland, who led the study.

"Due to its sensitive nature, hemoglobin has the potential to be used as a stress biomarker. This, for the first time, gives us a clear readout of stress levels in the corals and their symbiotic algae," Rosic explains, according to a Queensland statement.
Coral bleaching occurs when the symbiotic algae abandon the coral due to higher water temperatures or pollution and, deprived of their main energy source, the corals whiten and potentially perish.

"Despite the importance of coral reefs to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, we still do not clearly understand how well they can cope with changed conditions of climate and the environment they now face," explained study co-author Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS).

Bleaching has hit more than half of the Great Barrier Reef in recent years, as well as a majority of coral reefs around the world.

IANS



First Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 15:38

More from zeenews

 
comments powered by Disqus
Party Won Trends Swing
BJP 122 122 76
SHS 63 63 19
INC 42 42 -40
NCP 41 41 -21
MNS 1 1 -12
OTH 19 19 -22
Party wise Trends/Tally | Key Candidates | Vote Share
Constituency Wise Results Interactive Map
Party Won Trends Swing
BJP 47 47 43
INLD 19 19 -12
INC 15 15 -25
HJCBL 2 2 -4
OTH 7 7 -2
Party wise Trends/Tally | Key Candidates | Vote Share
Constituency Wise Results Interactive Map