Nav: Home

Coastal pollution reduces genetic diversity of corals, reef resilience

April 02, 2020

A new study by researchers at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) found that human-induced environmental stressors have a large effect on the genetic composition of coral reef populations in Hawai'i. They confirmed that there is an ongoing loss of sensitive genotypes in nearshore coral populations due to stressors resulting from poor land-use practices and coastal pollution. This reduced genetic diversity compromises reef resilience. 

The study identified closer genetic relationships between nearshore corals in Maunalua Bay, Oahu and those from sites on West Maui, than to corals from the same islands, but further offshore. This pattern can be described as isolation by environment in contrast to isolation by distance. This is an adaptive response by the corals to watershed discharges that contain sediment and pollutants from land.

"While the results were not surprising, they clearly demonstrate the critical need to control local sources of stress immediately while concurrently addressing the root causes of global climate change," said Robert Richmond, research professor and director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory and co-author of the study. "Additionally, this innovative science shows the need to track biodiversity at multiple levels."

This research provides valuable information to coral reef managers in Hawai'i and around the world who are developing approaches and implementation plans to enhance coral reef resilience and recovery through reef restoration and stressor reduction.

"This study shows the value of applying molecular tools to ecological studies supporting coral reef management," stated Kaho Tisthammer, lead researcher on this paper.

While the loss of coral colonies and species is easy to see with the naked eye, molecular tools are needed to uncover the effects of stressors on the genetic diversity within coral reef populations.
-end-
This research, performed by Kaho Tisthammer, Rob Toonen, Zac Forsman and Robert Richmond, was a collaborative effort between researchers at SOEST's Kewalo Marine Laboratory, Pacific Biosciences Research Center, and the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology.

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Related Genetic Diversity Articles:

Seahorse and pipefish study by CCNY opens window to marine genetic diversity May 08, 2020
The direction of ocean currents can determine the direction of gene flow in rafting species, but this depends on species traits that allow for rafting propensity.
Study helps arboreta, botanical gardens meet genetic diversity conservation goals
In a groundbreaking study, an international team of 21 scientists evaluated five genera spanning the plant tree of life (Hibiscus, Magnolia, Pseudophoenix, Quercus and Zamia) to understand how much genetic diversity currently exists in collections in botanical gardens and arboreta worldwide.
Study reveals rich genetic diversity of Vietnam
In a new paper, Dang Liu, Mark Stoneking and colleagues have analyzed newly generated genome-wide SNP data for the Kinh and 21 additional ethnic groups in Vietnam, encompassing all five major language families in MSEA, along with previously published data from nearby populations and ancient samples.
Coastal pollution reduces genetic diversity of corals, reef resilience
A new study by researchers at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology found that human-induced environmental stressors have a large effect on the genetic composition of coral reef populations in Hawai'i.
New world map of fish genetic diversity
An international research team from ETH Zurich and French universities has studied genetic diversity among fish around the world for the first time.
Texas A&M study reveals domestic horse breed has third-lowest genetic diversity
A new study by Dr. Gus Cothran, professor emeritus at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, has found that the Cleveland Bay horse breed has the third-lowest genetic variation level of domestic horses, ranking above only the notoriously inbred Friesian and Clydesdale breeds.
Genetic diversity facilitates cancer therapy
Cancer patients with more different HLA genes respond better to treatment.
Ancient Rome: a 12,000-year history of genetic flux, migrations and diversity
Scholars have been all over Rome for hundreds of years, but it still holds some secrets - for instance, relatively little is known about where the city's denizens actually came from.
Lupus study illustrates the importance of diversity in genetic research
Scientists at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology have pinpointed epigenetic differences in the way lupus affects black women compared to other lupus patients, revealing important mechanics of the puzzling disease.
Are humans changing animal genetic diversity worldwide?
Human population density and land use is causing changes in animal genetic diversity, according to researchers at McGill University.
More Genetic Diversity News and Genetic Diversity Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.