Coral skeletons are composed of (micrometric) crystals of aragonite, a variety of calcium carbonate. Their function within their skeletons is highly varied: it is the support that allows them to grow, provides protection against predators and sometimes helps them to ascend from the ocean floor in order to benefit from the light, as some corals live with symbiotic algae in their interior, which provides them with nutrients.
A study published in the journal Nature Communications shows, for the first time, the relationship between physiological changes caused in corals living in the acidified ocean and changes in the organization of their skeleton on an atomic or crystallographic scale.
Research - Coral - Stylophora - Pistillata - Records
"Our research has shown that the reef-forming coral, Stylophora pistillata, records subtle changes in its skeleton at different seawater pHs," says Ismael Coronado Vila, a scientist at the Institute of Paleobiology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (Poland), who is leading the work together with Jaros?aw Stolarski.
Thus, coral skeletons formed under ocean acidification conditions (low pH) undergo systematic changes in the arrangement of skeletal crystals and physiological alterations of the coral. "For example, in acidic conditions there is a greater incorporation of organic matrix into the skeleton," adds the expert.
Study - Scientists - Colonies - Aquariums - Months
To complete this study, these scientists incubated coral colonies in aquariums for 14 months at the Inter-University Institute of Marine Sciences in Eilat (Israel) and these were subsequently studied in Spanish laboratories at the Complutense University of Madrid and the Spanish National Research Council, among others.
"The acidic conditions of the experiments simulated everything from the current pH...
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