APR 30, 2018 6:07 PM PDT

Reef Fish Offspring Inherit Elevated Tolerance to Climate Change

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

In most cases, warming ocean waters that get brought about by climate change have a negative impact on marine wildlife. But some reef fish appear to exhibit natural self-defense mechanisms that could protect their offspring from the harmful effects.

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology reported their surprising findings in the journal Nature Climate Change this week.

Some reef fish may exhibit natural self-defense mechanisms to protect against climate change.

Image Credit: ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies/Jennifer Donelson

"When parents are exposed to an increase in water temperature, we found that their offspring improved their performance in these otherwise stressful conditions by selectively modifying their epigenome," explained Prof Philip Munday, a senior author of the study.

Related: Scientists finally know why deep-sea corals glow in the dark

As it would seem, the excess exposure to heat stress signals particular genes in the reef fish’ DNA to either activate or deactivate, and these changes get passed on to their offspring. As a result, said offspring display improved tolerance and enhanced performance in warmer ocean waters than the previous generation(s).

"We reared spiny chromis damselfish, a common Indo-Pacific reef fish, for two generations under three different water temperatures, up to 3 degrees Celsius warmer than current-day ocean temperatures," added study co-author Prof Timothy Ravasi.

"The next generation appeared to be advantaged by parental exposure to elevated temperatures. The offspring's altered gene expression, also referred to as 'acclimation,' allowed them to maximize oxygen consumption and energy use."

Related: Growing coral: a restoration project

The findings are substantial because they portray how life adapts to cope with a volatile environment, but the researchers also warn how it may not be enough to save the species from climate change indefinitely; instead, it may delay the inevitable.

While the fish themselves become less susceptible to warming ocean waters, climate change continues to deal calamitous blows to coral reefs. Reef fish rely on coral reefs for survival – evading predators and having a place to call home. On the other hand, their disappearance invokes a domino effect and consequently impacts the reef fish too.

It should be interesting to see if any other types of fish exhibit similar traits. Perhaps future research could shed light.

Source: EurekAlert

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 04, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
They're Serious: Ig Nobel-Inspired Researchers Re-examined Penguin's Bodily Fluid Dynamics
AUG 04, 2020
They're Serious: Ig Nobel-Inspired Researchers Re-examined Penguin's Bodily Fluid Dynamics
If this year has been nothing but stress and you are looking for a venue for some "serious" laughter, this is ...
AUG 05, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Bullock's & Baltimore Orioles May Mix, But They Won't Merge
AUG 05, 2020
Bullock's & Baltimore Orioles May Mix, But They Won't Merge
Researchers have data that can finally settle a long controversy in the birding world.
SEP 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
Scientists Document Swimming Styles of Sea Butterflies
SEP 10, 2020
Scientists Document Swimming Styles of Sea Butterflies
Snails, marine and terrestrial, are likely primarily imagined to be attached to a substrate. However, under the waves, t ...
OCT 07, 2020
Plants & Animals
Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia
OCT 07, 2020
Tasmanian Devils Return to Mainland Australia
For the first time in about 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils have returned to mainland Australia. According to a report fro ...
OCT 15, 2020
Plants & Animals
Meet the World's First Cloned Przewalski's Horse
OCT 15, 2020
Meet the World's First Cloned Przewalski's Horse
Say “hello!” to Kurt, a two-month-old Przewalski’s horse that has made scientific history as the world ...
OCT 22, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Legacy chemicals found in migratory birds
OCT 22, 2020
Legacy chemicals found in migratory birds
A study published in the journal Environment International has found long-forgotten chemicals, called legacy chemicals, ...
Loading Comments...