Researchers recently discovered that Porites cylindrica growing in the Heron Island Lagoon and the Great Barrier Reef contain a “calcifying fluid” that maintains a constant internal pH level that isn’t influenced by the pH level in surrounding waters. This reservoir allowed the coral to keep growing, even in relatively acidic waters.
“The regulatory mechanism allows the coral to grow at a relatively constant rate, suggesting it may be more resilient to the effects of ocean acidification than previously thought,” lead author Lucy Georgiou from UWA’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies explained in a news release.
The researchers don’t yet know if this particular trait is species-specific or limited to corals that live in areas where pH levels fluctuate a lot, but it is an encouraging discovery.
“The next step in this research is to find out if Porites cylindrica colonies from more stable environments also have the ability to adapt and ‘hold up’ to the threats of ocean acidification,” Georgiou explained. “We also need to explore whether rising sea temperatures impacts their ability to maintain a constant internal pH level.”
To learn more:
- Read the UWA news release: Self-regulating coral protect themselves against ocean acidification
- Read the full study: pH homeostasis during coral calcification in a free ocean CO2 enrichment (FOCE) experiment, Heron Island reef flat, Great Barrier Reef
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