1,028 research outputs found

    The application and sustainable development of coral in traditional medicine and its chemical composition, pharmacology, toxicology, and clinical research

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    This review discusses the variety, chemical composition, pharmacological effects, toxicology, and clinical research of corals used in traditional medicine in the past two decades. At present, several types of medicinal coral resources are identified, which are used in 56 formulas such as traditional Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, Mongolian medicine, and Uyghur medicine. A total of 34 families and 99 genera of corals are involved in medical research, with the Alcyoniidae family and Sarcophyton genus being the main research objects. Based on the structural types of compounds and the families and genera of corals, this review summarizes the compounds primarily reported during the period, including terpenoids, steroids, nitrogen-containing compounds, and other terpenoids dominated by sesquiterpene and diterpenes. The biological activities of coral include cytotoxicity (antitumor and anticancer), anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, antiviral, immunosuppressive, antioxidant, and neurological properties, and a detailed summary of the mechanisms underlying these activities or related targets is provided. Coral toxicity mostly occurs in the marine ornamental soft coral Zoanthidae family, with palytoxin as the main toxic compound. In addition, nonpeptide neurotoxins are extracted from aquatic corals. The compatibility of coral-related preparations did not show significant acute toxicity, but if used for a long time, it will still cause toxicity to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and other internal organs in a dose-dependent manner. In clinical applications, individual application of coral is often used as a substitute for orthopedic materials to treat diseases such as bone defects and bone hyperplasia. Second, coral is primarily available in the form of compound preparations, such as Ershiwuwei Shanhu pills and Shanhu Qishiwei pills, which are widely used in the treatment of neurological diseases such as migraine, primary headache, epilepsy, cerebral infarction, hypertension, and other cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. It is undeniable that the effectiveness of coral research has exacerbated the endangered status of corals. Therefore, there should be no distinction between the advantages and disadvantages of listed endangered species, and it is imperative to completely prohibit their use and provide equal protection to help them recover to their normal numbers. This article can provide some reference for research on coral chemical composition, biological activity, chemical ecology, and the discovery of marine drug lead compounds. At the same time, it calls for people to protect endangered corals from the perspectives of prohibition, substitution, and synthesis

    Spicy food for the egg-cowries: the evolution of corallivory in the Ovulidae (Gastropoda: Cypraeoidea)

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    IntroductionHost-parasite associations provide very useful models to study adaptive processes. We investigated the interaction between carnivorous marine gastropods, the Ovulidae or egg-cowries, and their cnidarian food targets. Ovulidae (Fleming, 1828), is a family of specialized carnivorous caenogastropods that feed by browsing on octocorals (Anthozoa: Octocorallia: Malacalcyonacea and Scleralcyonacea) or, to a much lesser degree, on antipatharians (Anthozoa: Hexacorallia: Antipatharia) and Stylasteridae (Hydrozoa: Hydroidolina: Anthoathecata). Very scanty information is available on the phylogenetic relationships and the degree of specificity of the relationship with the cnidarians of this corallivorous lineage, especially for deep-water taxa.MethodsTo assess taxonomic identifications and investigate cnidarian/ovulid relationships in the context of their evolution, we generated an extensive molecular dataset comprising two mitochondrial (cox1 and 16S rDNA) and one nuclear gene (28S rDNA) from 524 specimens collected worldwide. The coral hosts of the ovulid species have been identified by integrating literature data with new records, employing morphological and/or molecular (the mitochondrial 16S rDNA and mtMSH, and the nuclear ITS2) markers.ResultsWe obtained a molecular phylogenetic framework for the Ovulidae, time-calibrated with nine reliable fossil records. An ancestral state reconstruction allowed to identify Hexacorallia or Hydroidolina as the most likely ancestral cnidarian host for the Ovulidae.DiscussionOur phylogenetic hypothesis revealed the existence of groups that do not completely correspond to the currently employed subfamilial arrangement. Concerning trophic ecology, while only pediculariines (Pedicularia and allied) are associated with hydrozoans (Stylasteridae), our results suggest that some ovulid lineages shifted independently between octocorals and hexacorals

    Record of a central Indo-Pacific corallimorph in the Lakshadweep atolls and its competition with the hard corals

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    Coral reefs are disappearing worldwide because of mass bleaching, natural disasters, diseases and anthropogenic stressors. This leaves a large area of unutilised substratum, to which other benthic organisms, like corallimorpharians (CMs), anemones and macroalgae, can move in. In this article, we describe, for the first time, the competition for space between a CM and the hard corals in Kavaratti Atoll in the Indian Ocean. This is the first reported instance of an invasion of CM in the entire Lakshadweep Islands. The CM Rhodactis bryoides Haddon and Shackleton, 1893, is identified by morphological and molecular analysis. The species has not so far been reported from the western Indian Ocean area. We monitored the rate of invasion for six months to figure out the growth rate of CMs. This area did not have any prominent causative factors for CM outbreaks, such as external disturbances and nutrient enrichment. Yet our study showed that CMs are successful in the competition for space. More research needs to be done into the biology of this species, how it interacts with other benthic groups and how the environment facilitates its spread

    Using size-weight relationships to estimate biomass of heavily targeted aquarium corals by Australia’s coral harvest fisheries

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    Coral reefs are highly threatened environs subject to ongoing unprecedented degradation as a result of anthropogenic activities. Given the existential threat to coral reef ecosystems, extractive industries that make use of coral reef resources, are facing significant public and political pressure to quantify and justify their environmental impact. In Australia, hundreds of thousands of live scleractinian (hard) corals are harvested annually directly from the wild to supply the growing international marine aquarium trade. Many of the most popular and high value aquarium corals are believed to be slow growing, which would make them particularly vulnerable to over-fishing. Corals present a number of unique challenges for fisheries management, not least of which, is the marked variation in the size of corals, which may be harvested in whole or in part. This issue is further compounded because harvest limits are typically weight-based, but there is very limited information on the standing biomass of corals in targeted stocks. Herein, we describe size-weight relationships for some of Australia’s most heavily targeted coral species (Catalaphyllia jardinei, Duncanopsammia axifuga, Euphyllia glabrescens, Homophyllia cf. australis, Micromussa lordhowensis, Trachyphyllia geoffroyi), which allows estimation of standing biomass from transect surveys. This work represents an important first step in the development of ecologically sound management strategies by bridging the gap between catch reporting and stock assessments

    DNA barcoding, dwelling morphology, and fecundity of the gall-forming shrimp <i>Paratypton siebenrocki</i> Balss, 1914 (Caridea: Palaemonidae)

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    Tropical coral reefs offer a wide variety of habitats to countless invertebrate species. Sessile host organisms especially are inhabited by small taxa, of which decapod crustaceans form one of the most diverse communities. Symbiotic palaemonid shrimp species associ-ate with marine invertebrate hosts from multiple phyla, including cnidarians such as stony corals (Scleractinia). The intriguing gall- forming shrimp Paratypton siebenrocki, a symbiont of Acropora corals in the Indo-Pacific, was collected in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea, Kenya, and the Maldives. Based on morphology P. siebenrocki has been considered to be most closely related to the genera Anapontonia and Metapontonia; however, no clear clustering with either palaemonid genus was observed in a phylogenetic recon-struction based on 16S and COI mtDNA. Here we photo-document the dwellings of P. siebenrocki in Acropora spp. for the first time, and furthermore we report on the reproductive output of this species. The number of eggs ranged from 345 to 909 (n = 6), and embryo volume differed strongly between early- and late-stage embryos. The carapace length ranged from 2.58 to 4.55 mm for the females and 1.51 to 2.5 mm for the males (n = 5). The number and size of the embryos, combined with their specialised, secluded lifestyle, sug-gest that P. siebenrocki allocates highe

    A hybrid-capture approach to reconstruct the phylogeny of Scleractinia (Cnidaria: Hexacorallia)

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    A well-supported evolutionary tree representing most major lineages of scleractinian corals is in sight with the development and application of phylogenomic approaches. Specifically, hybrid-capture techniques are shedding light on the evolution and systematics of corals. Here, we reconstructed a broad phylogeny of Scleractinia to test previous phylogenetic hypotheses inferred from a few molecular markers, in particular, the relationships among major scleractinian families and genera, and to identify clades that require further research. We analysed 449 nuclear loci from 422 corals, comprising 266 species spanning 26 families, combining data across whole genomes, transcriptomes, hybrid capture and low-coverage sequencing to reconstruct the largest phylogenomic tree of scleractinians to date. Due to the large number of loci and data completeness (less than 38% missing data), node supports were high across shallow and deep nodes with incongruences observed in only a few shallow nodes. The “Robust” and “Complex” clades were recovered unequivocally, and our analyses confirmed that Micrabaciidae Vaughan, 1905 is sister to the “Robust” clade, transforming our understanding of the “Basal” clade. Several families remain polyphyletic in our phylogeny, including Deltocyathiidae Kitahara, Cairns, Stolarski &amp; Miller, 2012, Caryophylliidae Dana, 1846, and Coscinaraeidae Benzoni, Arrigoni, Stefani &amp; Stolarski, 2012, and we hereby formally proposed the family name Pachyseridae Benzoni &amp; Hoeksema to accommodate Pachyseris Milne Edwards &amp; Haime, 1849, which is phylogenetically distinct from Agariciidae Gray, 1847. Results also revealed species misidentifications and inconsistencies within morphologically complex clades, such as Acropora Oken, 1815 and Platygyra Ehrenberg, 1834, underscoring the need for reference skeletal material and topotypes, as well as the importance of detailed taxonomic work. The approach and findings here provide much promise for further stabilising the topology of the scleractinian tree of life and advancing our understanding of coral evolution

    On the paradox of thriving cold‐water coral reefs in the food‐limited deep sea

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    The deep sea is amongst the most food‐limited habitats on Earth, as only a small fraction of the surface primary production is exported below 200 m water depth. Here, cold‐water coral (CWC) reefs form oases of life: their biodiversity compares with tropical coral reefs, their biomass and metabolic activity exceed other deep‐sea ecosystems by far. We critically assess the paradox of thriving CWC reefs in the food‐limited deep sea, by reviewing the literature and open‐access data on CWC habitats. This review shows firstly that CWCs typically occur in areas where the food supply is not constantly low, but undergoes pronounced temporal variation. High currents, downwelling and/or vertically migrating zooplankton temporally boost the export of surface organic matter to the seabed, creating ‘feast’ conditions, interspersed with ‘famine’ periods during the non‐productive season. Secondly, CWCs, particularly the most common reef‐builder &lt;jats:italic&gt;Desmophyllum pertusum&lt;/jats:italic&gt; (formerly known as &lt;jats:italic&gt;Lophelia pertusa&lt;/jats:italic&gt;), are well adapted to these fluctuations in food availability. Laboratory and measurements revealed their dietary flexibility, tissue reserves, and temporal variation in growth and energy allocation. Thirdly, the high structural and functional diversity of CWC reefs increases resource retention: acting as giant filters and sustaining complex food webs with diverse recycling pathways, the reefs optimise resource gains over losses. Anthropogenic pressures, including climate change and ocean acidification, threaten this fragile equilibrium through decreased resource supply, increased energy costs, and dissolution of the calcium‐carbonate reef framework. Based on this review, we suggest additional criteria to judge the health of CWC reefs and their chance to persist in the future

    Investigating patterns of deep sea coral and sponge diversity and abundance across multiple spatial scales in the Central Pacific

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    The deep sea is the largest ecosystem on the planet, comprising more than 90% of the volume that life can inhabit, yet it is the least explored biome in the world. The deep sea includes the benthos, which makes up 91.5 % of all the seafloor globally, and the water column deeper than 200 meters. It hosts a wealth of ecosystems including deep-sea vents, seamount coral gardens, abyssal plains, high-productivity whale falls, and life even in the deepest trenches. We now understand that all of these ecosystems host a variety of habitats, each with their own ecology and unique species. These ecosystems and habitats- and their associated biodiversity- provide essential ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, nutrient regeneration, microbial processes detoxification, fisheries provisioning, and many others. However, despite the uniqueness of these ecosystems and the importance of the services they provide, we still know far less about them than we do about their shallow water and terrestrial counterparts. In this dissertation, I contribute new insights about the patterns of biodiversity in the Pacific Ocean across a large geographic area, and across a wide range of depths. To that end, in Chapter 1, I have used one of the largest ocean exploration datasets to look for patterns of the abundance and diversity across the most common benthic invertebrate families found on Pacific seamounts: Anthozoa, Porifera, and Echinodermata across the Central and Western Pacific. In addition to quantifying the diversity and abundance of known taxa, I also documented patterns of as-of-yet unidentified taxa by region, depth, and deepwater feature (seamount shape). Building on patterns associated with seamount shape that were described in Chapter 2, I focused on the effect of seamount shape on the diversity and abundance of deep-sea coral communities in Chapter 3. The analysis presented in Chapter 3 provides strong support for the novel hypothesis that gross seamount morphology is a significant driver of community composition. In Chapter 4, I focused on a single seamount to investigate biodiversity and abundance of coral and sponge taxa on a finer spatial scale, examining the role of direction (N, S, E, W) on different flanks of a single equatorial seamount. This analysis yielded interesting consistent patterns of zonation on all sides of the seamount in terms of depth, but with differences in abundance patterns on each flank for individual taxa. Finally, in Chapter 5, I took a global perspective to investigate gaps in deepwater data, with the goal of determining what regions need further exploration to conclusively determine patterns of deep-sea biodiversity, which will be critical for determining the health of deepwater ecosystems under climate change conditions with increased exploitation pressure and cooccuring with increased conservation efforts. Merging Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) records with the largest collection of deep submergence dive records ever collected, I used proposed biogeographic provinces schema to identify areas with the least supporting data. Additionally, I coupled records from OBIS with climate change projections to identify the areas with the fewest number of biodiversity records that are likely to change the fastest under different IPCC projections. These areas of low number of records and high likelihood of change by the end of the century should become priority targets for future exploration. Taken together, this dissertation provides valuable insights and generates new hypotheses about patterns and drivers of deep-sea biodiversity, and puts forth recommendations for future research and exploration efforts
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