BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: spiders

Don’t be Amoral… Help Rehabilitate the Coral!

The Rehabilitation of Coral Reefs with “Spiders”

Coral reefs have recently been decimated worldwide. While there have been countless efforts to rehabilitate damaged coral reefs, very few have been successful, up until now.

According to a study “led by the University of California, Davis, in partnership with Mars Symbioscience,” there is a new, relatively inexpensive technique that utilizes “spiders” – hexagonal, “three-and-a-half square ft. structures made from rust-protected reinforcing steel rods” – to facilitate the renewal of coral reefs. In order to test the effectiveness of this technique, researchers traveled to Indonesia’s Coral Triangle, a region possessing the greatest coral diversity in the world. As expansive as it is, the region is a skeleton of its former self. There, the researchers fixed 11,000 “spiders” onto 5 acres of reef, starting in 2013. The transformation of the reef was astonishing. Apparently, “Live coral cover on the structures increased from less than 10 percent to more than 60 percent.” Furthermore, while coral bleaching devastated entire reefs in various locations worldwide between 2014-2016, it had minimal effects (less than 5 percent) on the rehabilitated reefs. As Frank Mars, the vice president of Mars Sustainable Solutions, stated, healthy coral reef ecosystems are not only essential to the environment and the well-being of all people, but also provide economical opportunities, by providing a “foundation for many local fisheries, as well as jobs for tourism.”

diving underwater biology seaweed blue colorful coral coral reef invertebrate clown fish reef nemo turquoise algae creature beautiful exotic anemone meeresbewohner organism sea anemone marine biology coral reef fish marine invertebrates pomacentridae freshwater aquarium

“The image is released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.”                                                       Taken by an “unknown lens”

While this news is very promising for the future, more still should be done. Human activities, such as illegal fishing and pollution, have to be better controlled, and their negative impact mitigated as much as possible. Also, more people have to be educated about the enormous adverse impact of their actions on the ocean environment. “In the meantime, the ‘spider’ technique and restoration projects offer a way to rehabilitate large swaths of coral reefs and the communities that depend on them, giving the reefs a chance to adapt or acclimate to worsening ocean conditions.”

Feature Image: Taken by Jan-Mallander

 

Scared of that tarantula? Don’t be- you could use it for science.

Lycosa_Tarantula

Photo taken by Alvaro https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lycosa_Tarantula.jpg

How is it going readers? Today I will be talking about something that has been on my mind and will make you say “bioh, wow that is crazy.” Tarantulas, a type of spider feared by most people, carry a dangerous venom. However, Australian researchers recently discovered that the venom, when used correctly, can actually double as an effective but significantly less addictive painkiller. This peptide is found in the Peruvian green velvet tarantula, and has an official name of ProTx-II. It was originally identified by researchers at Yale, when after examining over 100 different samples of spider venom looking for a potential sample that could block the pain sensing neurons in the brain. To dig deeper into the science of it, researchers are looking for the exact peptide receptor that actually does the binding on the surface of cells. They are also searching for answers as to what aspects of the cell membrane allow it to do this. A very important pain receptor on the cell membrane is NaV1.7. Sonya Henriques, a researcher at the University of Queensland, described the situation by saying, “Our results show that the cell membrane plays an important role in the ability of ProTx-II to inhibit the pain receptor. In particular, the neuronal cell membranes attract the peptide to the neurons, increase its concentration close to the pain receptors, and lock the peptide in the right orientation to maximize its interaction with the target.” Although this potential discovery is in a very early stage, this could be an incredible breakthough. Only time will tell if spider venom can be used effectively and without extreme side effects to treat pain.

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