APR 30, 2018 06:07 PM PDT

Reef Fish Offspring Inherit Elevated Tolerance to Climate Change

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
OCT 16, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 16, 2019
Irish Teen Removes Microplastics From Water, Wins Google Science Fair
A new invention that removes microplastics from water was designed by 18-year-old Fionn Ferreira -- winner of the Google Science Fair....
OCT 16, 2019
OCT 16, 2019
Colombia Declares a State of Emergency as Banana Fungus Reaches the Americas
Bananas: the world's most popular fruit, a major source of food for millions of people, and now, seriously threatened by fungus....
OCT 16, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 16, 2019
Crows Can Be Silent If They Choose to Be
Researchers have long thought that songbirds unleash their colorful vocalizations involuntarily in response to activities happening around them, such as fo...
OCT 16, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 16, 2019
These Monkeys Thought a Troop Member Died, and Their Reactions Are Heartbreaking
Scientists carefully placed a high-detail animatronic ‘spy monkey’ near the site of a troop’s living quarters in an effort to gather info...
OCT 16, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
OCT 16, 2019
Cannabis Buds for Mid-Level Pain Relief
A study called, "The Effectiveness of Self-Directed Medical Cannabis Treatment for Pain," published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Med...
OCT 16, 2019
OCT 16, 2019
Diseases We Share with Our Canine Companions: Autoimmune Encephalitis in Dogs
Like humans, dogs can develop autoimmune encephalitis, and it’s common - mostly affecting smaller breeds and young adult dogs. Now scientists underst...
Loading Comments...