Institute of Marine Biology

Vladivostok, Russia

Institute of Marine Biology

Vladivostok, Russia
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News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

For such small and delicate creatures, they can pack mighty painful stings. Known as clinging jellyfish because they attach themselves to seagrasses and seaweeds, Gonionemus is found along coastlines in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and in particular in waters near Vladivostok, Russia. Exactly how these jellyfish, long assumed to be native to the North Pacific, became so widely distributed throughout the world has perplexed researchers for decades. Interest in the jellyfish has renewed in recent years, when stings with symptoms similar to those previously described off of the Russian coast -- including severe pain, respiratory and neurological symptoms -- suddenly started occurring in Cape Cod and nearby regions. Now, the first genetic study of the diversity of clinging jellyfish populations around the globe has discovered some surprising links among distant communities of jellies and also revealed there may be more than one species of the infamous stinger. The paper published April 18 in the journal Peer J. Annette Govindarajan, a biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and lead author of the paper, has studied these jellies for the past three years with the ultimate goal of tracing the species' origin off the U.S. East Coast, where it is thought to be invasive. The clinging jellyfish first appeared in the Cape Cod area in 1894. Scientists in Woods Hole studied the clingers in the early 1900s. Following an eelgrass die-off, their numbers dwindled. Then the tiny creatures, whose sizes range from about the diameter of a dime to a quarter, nearly vanished in the 1930s. Prior to that, says Govindarajan, researchers and others who were handling the jellies in Massachusetts made no reports of stings. "The Cape Cod populations were assumed to be a variety that didn't cause severe stings," Govindarajan adds. It wasn't until 1990 that the clinging jellyfish re-appeared in Cape Cod and painful stings were first reported. These observations lead Govindarajan and her colleague, WHOI researcher Mary Carman to suggest in a previous paper that an invasion from a toxic population had occurred. The new study shows that the story is much more complex than previously thought. The researchers uncovered a genetic match between populations of clinging jellyfish in the Vladivostok, Russia-area -- specifically the area well known to cause severe sting reactions -- and those found along the U.S. East Coast in the Northwest Atlantic. "We know the two regions share one genetic variant or haplotype," Govindarajan says. "In the Northwest Atlantic, this variant was actually most frequently found in eastern Long Island Sound. The details about how and when an invasion, or possibly multiple invasions, occurred aren't clear. Interestingly, we also found evidence that both regions may contain native forms." Working with Carman and colleagues Marat Khaidarov and Alexander Semenchenko from the A.V. Zhirmunsky Institute of Marine Biology, National Scientific Center of Marine Biology, Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences in Vladivostok, Russia, and John Wares from the University of Georgia, Govindarajan obtained tissue samples for DNA sequencing. The jellyfish samples came from several Atlantic and Pacific locations. Their analysis identified seven variants, some of which were specific to only one location, and others that were shared among communities in distant locations. Interestingly, jellies from the Northeast Pacific and Northeast Atlantic locations shared a haplotype that was sufficiently different from Northwest Atlantic and Northwest Pacific jellyfish, which suggests the possibility that the two related groups may represent different species of Gonionemus. "In the past, some people have suggested that the Atlantic and the Pacific jellies were different forms," Govindarajan says. "Others have suggested that jellies in the Atlantic were introduced from the Pacific. But what we found doesn't correspond exactly to either hypothesis. And it could be that what we have in the Northwest Atlantic and Northwest Pacific is not Gonionemus 'vertens' at all, as it has been called, but some other species of Gonionemus." "The study documents what we suspected, that there are different types of Gonionemus jellies and some of these types co-occur in New England," says coauthor Carman. "Some types seem to have a toxic sting to people and some do not." Understanding the relationship between the genetic variants and toxicity is something the researchers would like to pursue in the future. "It could very well be that the toxicity is a function of both genetics and the environment, perhaps something in the environment is triggering the toxicity," Govindarajan says. While the animals bloom in the summer months, beginning in June through September, Govindarajan says swimmers and beachgoers shouldn't be overly concerned as the fragile stingers are not found along sandy beaches in high-energy areas where there are waves. "Unlike other jellies, it is unlikely that these would be in open water," she says. "We only see them in areas with eelgrass or seaweeds since they're able to cling to these surfaces with the sticky pads found on their tentacles." The lack of movement in open waters also makes the mystery of how the different varieties have become so widespread even more intriguing. The jellyfish are produced by microscopic polyps that are only about a millimeter or less in size, which Govindarajan says is a stage where they could easily hitchhike on a blade of eelgrass, an oyster shell or even a boat hull. "At that stage, they're so tiny," she adds. "To find them is like finding a needle in a haystack." Govindarajan and her coauthors hope to obtain funding to do additional genomic analyses that will give greater resolution and suggest genetic markers to help reveal more about the species and its toxicity. They hope this will lead to a better understanding of how invasive forms of the jellyfish are dispersing, so that further spread can be prevented. "With this study, we answered some questions, but it also opened up many others," says Govindarajan. "That's part of the scientific process. It's what makes it for me, personally, very interesting. I feel like I'm solving a mystery." This work was supported by grants from the Woods Hole Sea Grant, Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative, the Kathleen M. and Peter E. Naktenis Family Foundation, the Town of Oak Bluffs Community Preservation Committee, and the Russian Science Foundation. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment. For more information, please visit http://www. .


News Article | April 18, 2017
Site: phys.org

Interest in the jellyfish has renewed in recent years, when stings with symptoms similar to those previously described off of the Russian coast—including severe pain, respiratory and neurological symptoms—suddenly started occurring in Cape Cod and nearby regions. Now, the first genetic study of the diversity of clinging jellyfish populations around the globe has discovered some surprising links among distant communities of jellies and also revealed there may be more than one species of the infamous stinger. The paper published April 18 in the journal Peer J. Annette Govindarajan, a biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and lead author of the paper, has studied these jellies for the past three years with the ultimate goal of tracing the species' origin off the U.S. East Coast, where it is thought to be invasive. The clinging jellyfish first appeared in the Cape Cod area in 1894. Scientists in Woods Hole studied the clingers in the early 1900s. Following an eelgrass die-off, their numbers dwindled. Then the tiny creatures, whose sizes range from about the diameter of a dime to a quarter, nearly vanished in the 1930s. Prior to that, says Govindarajan, researchers and others who were handling the jellies in Massachusetts made no reports of stings. "The Cape Cod populations were assumed to be a variety that didn't cause severe stings," Govindarajan adds. It wasn't until 1990 that the clinging jellyfish re-appeared in Cape Cod and painful stings were first reported. These observations lead Govindarajan and her colleague, WHOI researcher Mary Carman to suggest in a previous paper that an invasion from a toxic population had occurred. The new study shows that the story is much more complex than previously thought. The researchers uncovered a genetic match between populations of clinging jellyfish in the Vladivostok, Russia-area—specifically the area well known to cause severe sting reactions—and those found along the U.S. East Coast in the Northwest Atlantic. "We know the two regions share one genetic variant or haplotype," Govindarajan says. "In the Northwest Atlantic, this variant was actually most frequently found in eastern Long Island Sound. The details about how and when an invasion, or possibly multiple invasions, occurred aren't clear. Interestingly, we also found evidence that both regions may contain native forms." Working with Carman and colleagues Marat Khaidarov and Alexander Semenchenko from the A.V. Zhirmunsky Institute of Marine Biology, National Scientific Center of Marine Biology, Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences in Vladivostok, Russia, and John Wares from the University of Georgia, Govindarajan obtained tissue samples for DNA sequencing. The jellyfish samples came from several Atlantic and Pacific locations. Their analysis identified seven variants, some of which were specific to only one location, and others that were shared among communities in distant locations. Interestingly, jellies from the Northeast Pacific and Northeast Atlantic locations shared a haplotype that was sufficiently different from Northwest Atlantic and Northwest Pacific jellyfish, which suggests the possibility that the two related groups may represent different species of Gonionemus. "In the past, some people have suggested that the Atlantic and the Pacific jellies were different forms," Govindarajan says. "Others have suggested that jellies in the Atlantic were introduced from the Pacific. But what we found doesn't correspond exactly to either hypothesis. And it could be that what we have in the Northwest Atlantic and Northwest Pacific is not Gonionemus 'vertens' at all, as it has been called, but some other species of Gonionemus." "The study documents what we suspected, that there are different types of Gonionemus jellies and some of these types co-occur in New England," says coauthor Carman. "Some types seem to have a toxic sting to people and some do not."Understanding the relationship between the genetic variants and toxicity is something the researchers would like to pursue in the future. "It could very well be that the toxicity is a function of both genetics and the environment, perhaps something in the environment is triggering the toxicity," Govindarajan says. While the animals bloom in the summer months, beginning in June through September, Govindarajan says swimmers and beachgoers shouldn't be overly concerned as the fragile stingers are not found along sandy beaches in high-energy areas where there are waves. "Unlike other jellies, it is unlikely that these would be in open water," she says. "We only see them in areas with eelgrass or seaweeds since they're able to cling to these surfaces with the sticky pads found on their tentacles."The lack of movement in open waters also makes the mystery of how the different varieties have become so widespread even more intriguing. The jellyfish are produced by microscopic polyps that are only about a millimeter or less in size, which Govindarajan says is a stage where they could easily hitchhike on a blade of eelgrass, an oyster shell or even a boat hull. "At that stage, they're so tiny," she adds. "To find them is like finding a needle in a haystack." Govindarajan and her coauthors hope to obtain funding to do additional genomic analyses that will give greater resolution and suggest genetic markers to help reveal more about the species and its toxicity. They hope this will lead to a better understanding of how invasive forms of the jellyfish are dispersing, so that further spread can be prevented."With this study, we answered some questions, but it also opened up many others," says Govindarajan. "That's part of the scientific process. It's what makes it for me, personally, very interesting. I feel like I'm solving a mystery." More information: Annette F. Govindarajan et al. Mitochondrial diversity in(Trachylina:Hydrozoa) and its implications for understanding the origins of clinging jellyfish in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, PeerJ (2017). DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3205


News Article | November 10, 2016
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

An analysis of the health of highly impacted coral reefs off Singapore during a 27-year long period has shown they are more resilient to the impacts of human activity and warming than expected. A UNSW-led international team found that shallower reefs rebounded rapidly from a major bleaching episode in 1998, despite experiencing such high levels of sedimentation that underwater visibility was typically less than 2 metres. "It is remarkable that diverse shallow coral communities can persist in such adverse conditions," says study first author Dr James Guest, formerly of UNSW and now at the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology. "Undoubtedly, Singapore's reefs have suffered as a result of human activities, but the recovery of corals at shallow sites is really surprising given how impacted this environment is. It really shows how tough corals can be." Study senior author UNSW Professor Peter Steinberg adds: "This is by no means a cause for complacency regarding the state of our reefs, but rather highlights that if we can reduce local stressors, reefs are more likely to be able to rebound from the effects of global stressors such as climate change." The study by the team, which includes researchers from UNSW and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, and Singapore's National Parks Board, is published in the journal Scientific Reports. In the past 200 years, Singapore has been transformed from a forest-covered island with about 150 people to a highly urbanised city-state of more than 5.4 million. Extensive coastal construction, dredge spillage and land reclamation have resulted in high sedimentation rates, turbidity and pollution, putting immense pressure on the surrounding coral reefs. Between 1986 and 2012, coral communities at 15 sites south of the main island were regularly surveyed, and the results have been analysed for the new study. Coral cover during this 27-year period declined at all sites -- by about 12 per cent at the shallower depths of 3-4 metres and by about 30 per cent at the deeper depths of 6-7 metres. There was a particularly large decline in the first decade due in part, the authors suggest, to unmitigated dumping of dredge spoils in the late 1980s. In 1998, a major bleaching event occurred as the result of high water temperatures associated with an El Nino. However, corals at shallower reef sites were remarkably resilient to this event, showing signs of recovery within a decade. By 2008 coral cover had increased to about 1993 levels. Corals at deeper sites were less resilient, with coral cover at these sites continuing to decline. However, none of the sites were overtaken by large fleshy seaweeds, as has been seen on impacted reefs elsewhere in the world. The lack of recovery at deeper sites may be due to low light levels or a lack of unsuitable substratum for new corals to settle and survive. The researchers suspect the resilience at shallow sites is due to an abundance of coral species which have fast regrowth rates and can tolerate environmental stresses such as high levels of suspended sediments. It is also possible the turbidity of the water could offer some protection by reducing the light and the impact of heat stress, as well as slowing down the growth of fleshy seaweeds. Reefs in Singapore appear to have undergone substantial bleaching again this year, which is likely to test whether the resilience to bleaching observed in previous decades is still present on these reefs.


News Article | November 8, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

An analysis of the health of highly impacted coral reefs off Singapore during a 27-year long period has shown they are more resilient to the impacts of human activity and warming than expected. A UNSW-led international team found that shallower reefs rebounded rapidly from a major bleaching episode in 1998, despite experiencing such high levels of sedimentation that underwater visibility was typically less than 2 metres. "It is remarkable that diverse shallow coral communities can persist in such adverse conditions," says study first author Dr James Guest, formerly of UNSW and now at the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology. "Undoubtedly, Singapore's reefs have suffered as a result of human activities, but the recovery of corals at shallow sites is really surprising given how impacted this environment is. It really shows how tough corals can be." Study senior author UNSW Professor Peter Steinberg adds: "This is by no means a cause for complacency regarding the state of our reefs, but rather highlights that if we can reduce local stressors, reefs are more likely to be able to rebound from the effects of global stressors such as climate change." The study by the team, which includes researchers from UNSW and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, and Singapore's National Parks Board, is published in the journal Scientific Reports. In the past 200 years, Singapore has been transformed from a forest-covered island with about 150 people to a highly urbanised city-state of more than 5.4 million. Extensive coastal construction, dredge spillage and land reclamation have resulted in high sedimentation rates, turbidity and pollution, putting immense pressure on the surrounding coral reefs. Between 1986 and 2012, coral communities at 15 sites south of the main island were regularly surveyed, and the results have been analysed for the new study. Coral cover during this 27-year period declined at all sites - by about 12 per cent at the shallower depths of 3-4 metres and by about 30 per cent at the deeper depths of 6-7 metres. There was a particularly large decline in the first decade due in part, the authors suggest, to unmitigated dumping of dredge spoils in the late 1980s. In 1998, a major bleaching event occurred as the result of high water temperatures associated with an El Nino. However, corals at shallower reef sites were remarkably resilient to this event, showing signs of recovery within a decade. By 2008 coral cover had increased to about 1993 levels. Corals at deeper sites were less resilient, with coral cover at these sites continuing to decline. However, none of the sites were overtaken by large fleshy seaweeds, as has been seen on impacted reefs elsewhere in the world. The lack of recovery at deeper sites may be due to low light levels or a lack of unsuitable substratum for new corals to settle and survive. The researchers suspect the resilience at shallow sites is due to an abundance of coral species which have fast regrowth rates and can tolerate environmental stresses such as high levels of suspended sediments. It is also possible the turbidity of the water could offer some protection by reducing the light and the impact of heat stress, as well as slowing down the growth of fleshy seaweeds. Reefs in Singapore appear to have undergone substantial bleaching again this year, which is likely to test whether the resilience to bleaching observed in previous decades is still present on these reefs.


Bensman S.J.,Louisiana State University | Smolinsky L.J.,Louisiana State University | Pudovkin A.I.,Institute of Marine Biology
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology | Year: 2010

This paper analyzes the applicability of the article mean citation rate measures in the Science Citation Index Journal Citation Reports (SCI JCR) to the five JCR mathematical subject categories.These measures are the traditional 2-year impact factor as well as the recently added 5-year impact factor and 5-year article influence score. Utilizing the 2008 SCI JCR, the paper compares the probability distributions of the measures in the mathematical categories to the probability distribution of a scientific model of impact factor distribution. The scientific model distribution is highly skewed, conforming to the negative binomial type, with much of the variance due to the important role of review articles in science. In contrast, the three article mean citation rate measures' distributions in the mathematical categories conformed to either the binomial or Poisson, indicating a high degree of randomness. Seeking reasons for this, the paper analyzes the bibliometric structure of Mathematics, finding it a disjointed discipline of isolated subf ields with a weak central core of journals, reduced review function, and long cited half-life placing most citations beyond the measures' time limits.These combine to reduce the measures' variance to one commensurate with random error. However, the measures were found capable of identifying important journals. Using data from surveys of the Louisiana State University (LSU) faculty, the paper finds a higher level of consensus among mathematicians and others on which are the important mathematics journals than the measures indicate, positing that much of the apparent randomness may be due to the measures' inapplicability to mathematical disciplines. Moreover, tests of the stability of impact factor ranks across a 5-year time span suggested that the proper model for Mathematics is the negative binomial. © 2010 ASIS&T.


News Article | November 15, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

When I was in Senegal in 2003, the few Chinese vessels fishing along the coast from Mauritania to Liberia were unseaworthy rust-buckets, existing off what licences they could cadge. Then in the past five years shining new trawlers appeared on the horizon, churned out by subsidised Chinese shipyards, earning their owners handsome subsidies if they travel outside China, where they run on subsidised fuel and exploit subsidised freight rates to get their frozen cargo back home. There seem to be unlimited funds available to buy licences to fish in ways that are far from transparent – and which have long been exploited by other Far East fleets and resourceful members of the European Union. China’s distant water fleet is now the largest in the world, with about 3,400 vessels fishing in the waters of nearly 100 countries. Researchers estimate that nearly 75% of all the fish it caught came from African waters with almost 3m tonnes from west Africa. And there is, as far as we can see, a problem. Scientists working for the University of British Columbia, using a new way of estimating the size and value of catches, reported this year that just 9% of the millions of tons of fish caught by the Chinese in African waters is officially reported to the UN. All nations have to report annual catches to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Once, if you wanted to understand how global trends in food consumption were affecting the health of the ocean, you would travel to different countries, stand on the fish dock and watch the boats come and go. Now you get a far better grasp of what is going on from a computer program that tracks fishing vessels by satellite. Focus in on west Africa and you will notice the extraordinary upsurge in the number of Chinese trawlers fishing there in the past four years. The program displays the routes of more than 400 industrial vessels, 220 of them from China – more than any other nation. Zoom in on the coast of mainland China itself and you will understand why the Chinese fleet ranges across the world from the south Pacific to the Caribbean to bring home the shrimp, sole and tuna for home consumption. Along the shoreline from Hong Kong to Shanghai no sea is visible beneath the blue triangles denoting fishing vessels with their automatic identification system (AIS) switched on. Scientists reported in 2013 that 30% of China’s wild fisheries have collapsed and 20% were overfished. No one can blame China for trying to feed its 1.35 billion people. But the way it does it is coming under scrutiny, for there are persistent allegations that its fleet is involved in illegal, under-reported or unregulated fishing. In west Africa, some 1.2m tons of fish are caught by 274,000 artisanal fishermen, often in direct competition with industrial vessels. The result of this conflict is that stocks are in trouble all along the west African coast. Ghana recently had to propose a closed season of several months so fish could breed. The underlying problem is governance, or rather the lack of it. Under Ghanaian law, the beneficial owner of a fishing vessel is meant to be Ghanaian. The 60 licensed Chinese vessels in Ghanaian waters all fly the Ghanaian flag but the fish goes to China. Stephen Akester, co-ordinator of a World Bank programme designed to improve governance and fish-stock management from Mauritania to Ghana, says the source of the problem lies in the custom of fishing companies buying licences through trawler agents who make payments to politicians that see this as their main source of income. The agency system means more fishing capacity gets licensed than stocks can stand, local fishermen lose out and, if landings are not measured properly, government loses tax revenue. When confronted for buying licences illegally, a Chinese diplomat told Akester, who is British, “You had your turn, this is ours.” The west African example brings home some of the difficulties the world faces in meeting UN sustainable development goal target 14.2, which aims by 2020 to “sustainably manage, and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience and take action for their restoration, to achieve healthy and productive oceans”. The Overseas Development Institute has identified this target as one of the most difficult to achieve, because it requires a complete about-turn of current trajectories. On the bright side, some 6% of the world’s oceans have now been proposed or designated as protected areas, mostly by developed nations in places far removed from large human populations. This target is a more challenging task on the west African coast, where it is often difficult to work out where bending the law ends and breaking it begins. Professor Percy Showers at the Institute of Marine Biology in Sierra Leone explains the impact of foreign fleets: “The stocks are being over-exploited and the situation is not getting better. There is a need for more caution in managing the stocks.” Some fish species, such as the sea breams, are still holding up, but other species have almost disappeared. The enemy of both marine reserves and fish stocks is what is known as IUU, or “illegal, unreported and unrecorded” fishing. Global losses due to IUU fishing are estimated at between $10bn and $23.5bn (£8bn and £19bn) annually [pdf] and represent between 11 and 26m tonnes of catch. Steve Trent, executive director of the Environmental Justice Foundation, which has worked against overfishing and IUU fishing in Thailand, Indonesia and west Africa, said: “In order to achieve SDG 14, it is crucial that we put an end to IUU fishing. IUU fishing jeopardises the livelihoods and food security of some of the poorest communities in the world.” Yet amid the gloom one example stands out and shows what can be done: Liberia. If you look at the computer program mentioned earlier, you will see that there are currently no industrial vessels currently at sea in Liberian waters. None at all. How can this be? Since it began working with the World Bank in 2011, Liberia has instituted a six-mile limit within which no industrial vessels may fish, along with fisheries monitoring that has reduced illegal fishing by 83% according to the ministry of agriculture and fisheries. The result has been that artisanal fishing communities have more than doubled their catch and some communities even report they are catching larger fish. This is a rare example of what Akester says should happen everywhere, the reallocation of natural assets to where they are needed most, in the artisanal fleet. The World Bank has worked with motivated politicians in Liberia and is helping to train a new generation of west African fishery managers who have not been contaminated by the agency system. The Liberian agriculture and fisheries minister Moses Zinnah says artisanal fishermen have praised the tremendous recovery in stocks, which has put food on the table and increased income so they can afford to send their children to schools and hospitals. Tougher fisheries regulations may be in place and actually being enforced, but Liberia still intends to earn foreign currency by selling licences to foreign fleets to catch fish that its own fleet is not equipped to catch, such as tuna. So a five-year partnership agreement has been adopted by Liberia and the EU that will allow 28 purse seiners and six support vessels into Liberian waters under a strict surveillance regime. Are there any plans to admit the Chinese, who are hard at work in the other seven west African countries in the World Bank fisheries project? Liberia, Zinnah says, has no policy in place for discriminating against fishing vessels based on nationality. Currently 12 Chinese vessels have requested licences to fish in Liberian waters and these are being considered, provided they fish according to the same rules as EU vessels. Negotiations continue. “The rules are tough and we are not breaking the rules. It has been a bit tough for both sides,” Zinnah observes. So sustainable use of the sea again hangs in the balance. If the UN goal for sustainable use of the world’s oceans is to be achieved, examples like Liberia’s must not only succeed but multiply. Charles Clover is a journalist and executive director of the Blue Marine Foundation. Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow @GuardianGDP on Twitter. Join the conversation with the hashtag #Dev2030.


News Article | November 5, 2015
Site: news.yahoo.com

COCONUT ISLAND, Hawaii (AP) — Scientists at a research center on Hawaii's Coconut Island have embarked on an experiment to grow "super coral" that they hope can withstand the hotter and more acidic oceans that are expected with global warming. The quest to grow the hearty coral comes at a time when researchers are warning about the dire health of the world's reefs, which create habitats for marine life, protect shorelines and drive tourist economies. When coral is stressed by changing environmental conditions, it expels the symbiotic algae that live within it and the animal turns white or bright yellow, a process called bleaching, said Ruth Gates, director of the Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii. If the organisms are unable to recover from these bleaching events, especially when they recur over several consecutive years, the coral will die. Gates estimated that about 60 to 80 percent of the coral in Kaneohe Bay has bleached this year. "The bleaching has intensified and got much more serious," said Gates of the coral around the bay. Where they once looked for the bleached coral among the healthy, Gates said her team is now "looking for the healthy individuals in a sea of pale corals." Gates and her team are taking the coral to their center on the 29-acre isle, once a retreat for the rich and famous and home to television's Gilligan's Island, and slowly exposing them to slightly more stressful water. They bathe chunks of coral that they've already identified as having strong genes in water that mimics the warmer and more acidic oceans. They are also taking resilient strains and breeding them with one another, helping perpetuate those stronger traits. The theory they are testing is called assisted evolution, and while it has been used for thousands of years on other plants and animals, the concept has not been applied to coral living in the wild. "We've given them experiences that we think are going to raise their ability to survive stress," Gates said. She said they hope to see these corals, which will soon be transplanted into the bay, maintain their color, grow normally and then reproduce next summer. In early October, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that coral reefs worldwide are experiencing bleaching, calling the event extensive and severe. "We may be looking at losing somewhere in the range of 10 to 20 percent of the coral reefs this year," NOAA coral reef watch coordinator Mark Eakin said when the report was released. "Hawaii is getting hit with the worst coral bleaching they have ever seen." And this is the second consecutive year Hawaii has experienced widespread bleaching. Scientists say some coral has already fallen victim to global warming. About 30 percent of the world's population has already perished as a result of above average ocean temperatures, El Nino's effects and acidification. Gates and her team understand the challenges of scalability and time. Having success locally does not necessarily mean they will be able to scale their project to address a massive, global marine crisis before much of the world's coral reefs are already gone. Tom Oliver, a marine biologist and team leader at NOAA's Coral Reef Ecosystem Division, said the project is scalable with the requisite amount of effort and funding. He said, "the question is not can they do it, it's can they do it fast enough?" Oliver said that many reef restoration projects struggle because of the cost and time involved with raising standard coral and planting it in the ocean. "Restoration needs to have brood stock that can handle the changing conditions on reefs," he said. Gates said more research needs to be done before they can begin to address scalability. In 2013, Gates and her Australian counterpart Dr. Madeleine van Oppen, who does coral research at the Australia Institute of Marine Science, won the $10,000 Paul G. Allen Ocean Challenge for their proposal to assist coral evolution. Allen's foundation then asked them for a proposal to fully fund the idea, which they eventually did with a $4 million grant in June. Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, has various climate-related projects in his philanthropic portfolio.


Khotimchenko Y.S.,Institute of Marine Biology
Russian Journal of Marine Biology | Year: 2010

This review is devoted to the pharmacological properties of carrageenans, alginates, and pectins. The summarized results of the studies dedicated to the antitumor activity of the natural polysaccharides and their modified derivates are given. Brief information regarding the structure and physicochemical properties of these polysaccharides and detailed descriptions of the molecular mechanisms of antitumor and antimetastatic effects are given. © 2010 Pleiades Publishing, Ltd.


Khotimchenko Y.S.,Institute of Marine Biology
Russian Journal of Marine Biology | Year: 2010

This review deals with the pharmacology of nonstarch polysaccharides, namely fucoidans and chitosans, isolated from marine organisms. The work summarizes information from the international literature on the antitumor activities of native polysaccharides and their derivatives. The structures and physicochemical properties of these polysaccharides are described and the molecular mechanisms of their antitumor and antimetastatic effects are discussed. © 2010 Pleiades Publishing, Ltd.


Hedgecock D.,University of Southern California | Pudovkin A.I.,Institute of Marine Biology
Bulletin of Marine Science | Year: 2011

Most marine animal species are very abundant, relatively long-lived, and latematuring, with highly fecund adults adapted to spatially and temporally fluctuating ocean environments. Adults typically produce millions of small eggs that develop rapidly, without parental care, into planktonic larval stages that suffer high early mortality (Type III survivorship). Yet, large marine populations generally have only fractions of the genetic diversity expected from their sheer abundance, and despite widely dispersing larvae and geographically weakly structured adult populations, often show chaotic genetic heterogeneity on small spatial scales. These paradoxical observations can be explained by the hypothesis of Sweepstakes Reproductive Success (SRS), which posits extremely large variance in individual reproductive success, owing to sweepstakes-like chances of matching reproductive activity with oceanographic conditions conducive to gamete maturation, fertilization, larval development, settlement, and recruitment to the adult spawning population. The primary genetic consequence of SRS is reduction of N e/N, the ratio of effective to actual population numbers, to a value usually much smaller than 0.01. Published nearly 30 yrs ago, SRS has gained traction, with numerous papers verifying specific predictions of the hypothesis in a broad array of marine animal taxa. Moreover, the hypothesis and empirical data from marine systems have stimulated modifications of coalescence population genetics theory, which can now account for low molecular diversity and chaotic patchiness. Here, we review the empirical and theoretical support for SRS, concluding that it plays a major role in shaping marine biodiversity, comment on issues related to hypothesis testing and data interpretation, and clarify some misconceptions. © 2011 Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami.

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