The physiology team have recently published an article in Nature Scientific Reports on the thermal sensitivity of coral calcification. The response of reef corals to temperature is an important topic as coral reefs are threatened globally by ocean warming linked to climate change. While most research on the response of corals to temperature concerns coral bleaching, this article focuses on how and why coral calcification responds to temperature.
Co-Supervised by Drs Sylvie Tambutté and Alexander Venn, doctoral student Coralie Bernardet characterised the thermal performance window of coral calcification over a wide temperature range. The thermal performance window allowed the researchers to identify high and low temperatures at which calcification rates are impaired. The expression profile of panel of genes related to ion transport mechanisms was then characterised at these target temperatures in light and darkness to identify the processes underlying the vulnerability of coral calcification to temperature. The results highlight various processes, particularly dissolved inorganic carbon transport for calcification, which are perturbed on exposure to thermal stress. The study provides a deeper understanding of the thermal sensitivity of coral calcification and also identifies certain genes that are candidate biomarkers for the screening of sensitive and resistant corals. This information may prove useful for coral reef restoration projects.
- Bernardet, C., Tambutté, E., Techer, N., Tambutté, S., Venn, A.A. Ion transporter gene expression is linked to the thermal sensitivity of calcification in the reef coral Stylophora pistillata. Sci Rep 9, 18676 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-54814-7