Corals

A proto-particular path to corals

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Science  08 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6355, pp. 1012
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6355.1012-b

False color image of a Stylophora pistillata coral skeleton

CREDIT: PUPA GILBERT, CHANG-YU SUN, CAYLA STIFLER, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN–MADISON, AND MATTHEW MARCUS, ADVANCE LIGHT SOURCE, LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY

Coral skeletons form less directly than has long been thought. The classical picture of skeleton formation, involving simple inorganic precipitation of aragonite (a form of calcium carbonate) from a calcifying fluid, is now being supplanted by a body of research that identifies biologically controlled processes occurring within cells as the ones responsible. Mass et al. present spectromicroscopic evidence from Stylophora pistillata coral showing that amorphous calcium carbonate particles first form within the coral's organic tissue and then attach to the surface of the coral skeleton, where they soon crystallize into aragonite. This allows corals to grow faster than through ion-by-ion growth from solution and may make them less vulnerable to the harmful consequences of ocean acidification than has been assumed.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1707890114 (2017).

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