Corals and global warming: the Mediterranean versus the Red Sea CoralWarm
CoralWarm will generate for the first time projections of temperate and subtropical coral survival by integrating sublethal temperature increase effects on metabolic and skeletal processes in Mediterranean and Red Sea key species. CoralWarm unique approach is from the nano- to the macro-scale, correlating molecular events to environmental processes. This will show new pathways to future investigations on cellular mechanisms linking environmental factors to final phenotype, potentially improving prediction powers and paleoclimatological interpretation. Biological and chemical expertise will merge, producing new interdisciplinary approaches for ecophysiology and biomineralization. Field transplantations will be combined with controlled experiments under IPCC scenarios. Corals will be grown in aquaria, exposing the Mediterranean species native to cooler waters to higher temperatures, and the Red Sea ones to gradually increasing above ambient warming seawater. Virtually all state-of-the-art methods will be used, by uniquely combining the investigators’ expertise. Expected results include responses of algal symbionts’ photosynthesis, host, symbiont and holobiont respiration, biomineralization rates and patterns, including colony architecture, and reproduction to temperature and pH gradients and combinations. Integration of molecular aspects of potential replacement of symbiont clades, changes in skeletal crystallography, with biochemical and physiological aspects of temperature response, will lead to a novel mechanistic model predicting changes in coral ecology and survival prospect. High-temperature tolerant clades and species will be revealed, allowing future bioremediation actions and establishment of coral refuges, saving corals and coral reefs for future generations.
The analysis of the role of the soluble organic macromolecules (SOM) isolated from specific coral species, on the kinetic of the calcium carbonate deposition is subcontracted to the Laboratory for precipitation Process, Ruđer Bošković Institute (Croatia). The group at Rudjer Boskovic Institute has experience in studies of the kinetics of the calcium carbonate precipitation in the presence of additives, such as the organic matrix extracted from the coral skeleton (Kontrec J. et al. 2004, Eur. J. Inorg. Chem., 23, 4597-4585.; Kontrec et al. 2008, J. Crystal Growth, 310, 4554-4560.; Njegić-Džakula B. et al. 2009, Cryst. Growth & Des., 9, 2425-2434.; Njegić-Džakula B. et al. 2010, J. Colloid Interface Sci., 343, 553-563.). The Laboratory members have already extensively collaborated with the co-investigator. The world leading experience of the group is of importance to address the issue of the characterization of organic matrix (WP5: BIOLOGICAL CONTROL ON MINERAL DEPOSITION, 5.4 Characterization of the organic matrix). They have both, the intellectual and instrumental skills to properly perform the specific analyses of kinetics and conclude on precipitation mechanisms of calcium carbonate polymorphs in the presence of SOM.