Watch­ing Cor­als Breathe


Re­search­ers de­velop a new method to sim­ul­tan­eously meas­ure flow and oxy­gen.

An international research team headed by the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Aarhus University and the Science for Life Lab in Uppsala has developed tiny particles that measure the oxygen concentration in their surroundings. In this way, they can track fluid flow and oxygen content at the same time – exciting prospects for many fields of research, from biology to physics.

The sur­face of a coral is rugged. Its hard skel­eton is pop­u­lated by polyps that stretch their tentacles into the sur­round­ing wa­ter to fil­ter out food. But how ex­actly does the wa­ter flow over the coral sur­face, what ed­dies and flows de­velop, and what does this mean for the oxy­gen sup­ply around the coral and its as­so­ci­ated al­gae?

Un­til now, there was no an­swer to these ques­tions. Now an in­ter­na­tional re­search team around So­eren Ah­merkamp from the Max Planck In­sti­tute for Mar­ine Mi­cro­bi­o­logy in Bre­men, Klaus Koren from the Aar­hus Uni­versity in Den­mark and Lars Behrendt from the Uppsala Uni­versity and SciLifeLab in Sweden. has de­veloped a method that al­lows study­ing the flow and oxy­gen con­cen­tra­tions sim­ul­tan­eously at very small scales. Now it is pos­sible to see how the cor­als gen­er­ate a flow with their cilia, thus in­creas­ing oxy­gen trans­port.

Continue reading at Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology

Image via Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology