University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researcher Julia Diaz recently co-authored a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. The paper, “Dark Production of Extracellular Superoxide by the Coral Porites astreoides and Representative Symbionts,” appeared in the journal’s Nov. 24 issue.
The lead authors were Tong Zhang from Nankai University, as well as Diaz. Additional co-authors included Caterina Brighi from the Imperial College London in London, U.K.; Rachel Parsons from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences; Sean McNally from the University of Massachusetts; and Amy Apprill and Colleen Hansel, both from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The paper examines the production of superoxide by the Porites astreoides species of coral. Superoxide is an oxygen (O2) molecule with an extra electron, giving it a negative charge. Scientists believe it may have both beneficial and harmful effects on the coral, ranging from helping it resist disease to damage through coral bleaching. The research team determined the Porites astreoides coral produces superoxide, but that production is not related to photosynthetic activity or the presence of light. This led the team to question whether the superoxide production may play a beneficial role in coral physiology.
The paper can be accessed here: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmars.2016.00232/full
Diaz is an assistant professor in the UGA Department of Marine Sciences.