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
MAY 05, 2020
Plants & Animals
When Rival Baboon Troops Collide, Only Chaos Ensues
MAY 05, 2020
When Rival Baboon Troops Collide, Only Chaos Ensues
Troops of Hamadryas baboons can reach numbers of 400 strong without a single particular leader. Albeit large, these troo ...
MAY 07, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Your Night Light Could Be a Glowing Plant
MAY 07, 2020
Your Night Light Could Be a Glowing Plant
Glowing plants light themselves up House plants are not just decorations: thanks to science, they might become a part of ...
MAY 24, 2020
Plants & Animals
Bees May 'Trick' Plants Into Flowering When Pollen is Scarce
MAY 24, 2020
Bees May 'Trick' Plants Into Flowering When Pollen is Scarce
It’s no secret that bumblebees depend heavily on pollen for their unique worker-centric lifestyles. In fact, whene ...
JUN 09, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
The Key to Unlocking Next Generation Wearable Biosensors Is Under the Sea
JUN 09, 2020
The Key to Unlocking Next Generation Wearable Biosensors Is Under the Sea
Wearable biosensors are the latest trend in health and diagnostic technologies — keeping track of everything from ...
JUN 16, 2020
Plants & Animals
Desperate Polar Bear Mother Weighs Risks of Attacking Dangerous Walruses
JUN 16, 2020
Desperate Polar Bear Mother Weighs Risks of Attacking Dangerous Walruses
Polar bears are being subjected to severe living conditions as the Arctic’s ice caps continue to melt, and without ...
JUL 15, 2020
Plants & Animals
New Research Reveals Beluga Whale Social Networks
JUL 15, 2020
New Research Reveals Beluga Whale Social Networks
The familial and social relationships between whales, such as orcas and bottlenose dolphins, are moderately understood. ...
Loading Comments...