Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Scientific publication in Marine Biology - Ecophysiology team

Enhancement of coral calcification via the interplay of nickel and urease

Coral reefs are formed by tropical scleractinian corals, which elaborate a calcium carbonate skeleton (CaCO3). The process is called calcification. Coral reefs offer a variety of ecological niches to many species, which find food and protection. Since the last decades, coral calcification, or in other words, reef accretion, has however been impacted by many global (climate change) and local (pollution) stressors. It is therefore urgent to identify the various factors that can promote coral calcification. For this purpose, we have investigated the effect of seawater enrichment in urea and nickel on coral calcification. 
Nickel and urea can be two key elements for coral calcification. Indeed, to build their skeleton, corals need calcium and dissolved inorganic carbon. Urea, which is excreted in seawater by fish and other marine organisms, can be taken up by corals and then hydrolysed into inorganic carbon and ammonium, both compounds needed for coral calcification. Nickel originates from the erosion of laterite soils. It enters into the composition of the urease, which is the enzyme needed for urea hydrolysis.
In this work, we showed that seawater enrichment in nickel, or nickel+urea, doubles the calcification rate of corals. Therefore, fish-enriched reefs, or reefs located near nickel mining, such as those of New Caledonia, may take profit from nickel and urea to increase their accretion and resist climate change.

© L. Courtial
Coral reefs of Hienghene - New Caledonia

Biscéré T., Ferrier-Pagès C, Grover R, Gilbert A, Rottier C, Wright A, Payri C,Houlbrèque F (2018). Enhancement of coral calcification via the interplay of nickel and urease. Aquatic toxicology 200 : 247-256. 


  For more information, see www.centrescientifique.mc or contact :

- Dr Christine Ferrier-Pagès, Research Director, in charge of the Ecophysiology team of the Marine Biology Department, Scientific Centre of Monaco (ferrier@centrescientifique.mc)

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