Mexican Researcher identifies new species of marine algae

Dec 31, 2013

The species historically cited as the most abundant of coral algae that forms rodoliths at the Gulf of California in Mexico is in reality a compound of five different species. This finding was made by Jazmín Hernández Kantun, marine biologist at the Autonomous University of South Baja California (UABCS), resulting in a change of paradigm in the study of the species known as Lithophyllum margaritae.

In fact, this Mexican research has reached Europe, where Hernández Kantun continues the project and her studies at Ireland's National University with the support of the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt).

According to the Mexican researcher, the objective now is to determine the number of species of in Europe and Mexico trough molecular tests.

"Coral algae in Mexico and throughout the world are usually identified only by their shape and color. However, it is necessary to investigate the species in depth, given that more biodiversity exists in this organism than previously thought," said the researcher.

Regarding the importance of her discoveries, Kantun said that since 1992, the Habitats Directive of the European Union protects two rodoliths-forming species: Lithothamnion corallioides and Phymatolithon calcareum— considered the most abundant and important, they are regarded as a marine ecosystem and used as rich mineral fertilizers.

The specialist found that at least other two species: L. glaciale and L. tophiforme, should be considered in the protected group having the same characteristics.

The environmental value of coral algae lies in the fact that when detached during tides and accumulated in specific areas, they form mantles of rodoliths which are rich in calcium and used by corals, clams, larvae and mollusks as "foundation" to start their development.

However, global warming is changing the natural chemistry of ocean ecosystems, increasing the absorption of carbon dioxide and modifying its acidification levels (pH).

Hernández Kantun warned that the acidification could remove the mantles of rodoliths from the ecosystem, directly affecting the mollusks, corals and any other organism found in them.

The insisted that the coral's biological diversity must be considered. She says that the negative effects of climate change and repercussions that come with them are different for each species.

"A lot of research is missing in this field, we haven't quite understood the diversity of this algae— it is like saying that all dogs are alike when each breed has different genetics and response to environmental factors. It is different to protect one species than to protect five different ," she said.

Explore further: Corals surviving the ocean's pollution

Provided by Investigación y Desarrollo

4.7 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Corals surviving the ocean's pollution

Dec 02, 2013

Unlike other marine species, the corals are still capable of adapting under current circumstances of sea acidification, reveled by researchers at the Center of Biological Research of the Northeast (Cibnor). ...

Safety in numbers? Not so for corals

Nov 15, 2013

Traditionally, it was assumed that corals do not face a risk of extinction unless they become very rare or have a very restricted range. A team of scientists from the University of Hawaii – Manoa (UHM), ...

Recommended for you

3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

Nov 21, 2014

Last week, China and the United States announced an ambitious climate agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions in both countries, a pledge that marks the first time that China has agreed to stop its growing emissions. ...

From hurricanes to drought, LatAm's volatile climate

Nov 21, 2014

Sixteen years ago, Teodoro Acuna Zavala lost nearly everything when Hurricane Mitch ravaged his fields, pouring 10 days of torrential rains on Central America and killing more than 9,000 people.

Nicaragua: Studies say canal impact to be minimal

Nov 20, 2014

Officials said Thursday that studies have determined a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction is to begin next month.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.