From: Rutgers University
Published June 2, 2017 08:43 AM

Stony Corals More Resistant to Climate Change Than Thought, Rutgers Study Finds

Stony corals may be more resilient to ocean acidification than once thought, according to a Rutgers University study that shows they rely on proteins to help create their rock-hard skeletons.

“The bottom line is that corals will make rock even under adverse conditions,” said Paul G. Falkowski, a distinguished professor who leads the Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Laboratory at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “They will probably make rock even as the ocean becomes slightly acidic from the burning of fossil fuels.”

The Rutgers team, including lead author Stanislas Von Euw, a post-doctoral research fellow in Falkowski’s lab, details its findings in a pioneering study published online today in the journal Science. Using a materials science approach, the team tapped several high-tech imaging methods to show that corals use acid-rich proteins to build rock-hard skeletons made of calcium carbonate minerals.

“What we’re showing is that the decades-old general model for how corals make rock is wrong,” Falkowski said. “This very careful study very precisely shows that corals will secrete proteins, and the proteins are what really forms the mineral and the proteins are very acidic, which will surprise a lot of people.”

Read more at Rutgers University

Image: Stylophora pistillata is a colorful and well-studied stony coral common in the Indo-Pacific. (Credit: Kevin Wyman/Rutgers University)

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