According to the reports of a recent study, the coral reefs are experiencing huge challenges because of the dynamic climate changes. As a part of this study, the researchers at Saudi Arabia are analyzing an event, which is known to be altering the genes regulation called as DNA methylation in order to check whether the coral reefs could cope up with the changing water temperatures.
DNA methylation is a process that involves the addition of methyls (which are basically alkyls obtained from methane) into the DNA molecules. This process could alter the way the DNA data is studied without really altering the DNA strand particularly. This is actually a widely known and most intensely analyzed process.
The new study conducted by the researchers of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is studying this process in the coral reefs and the results have encouraged the researchers.
As known previously, the ocean tends to absorb near about 1/3 of the total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, the amount of the gas absorbed by the ocean also increases. This process of addition of undesirable amounts of carbon dioxide into the ocean by human activities is called acidification, which has fatal consequences.
After conducting certain experiments the scientists of the KAUST confirmed that the coral reefs have started using DNA methylation process on their own. The geneticist Yi Jin Liew said in a statement, “We noticed that corals grown under more acidic conditions had higher levels of DNA methylation. Genes with increased methylation were related to cell growth and stress response, but not to calcification as we initially proposed.”
The process of Methylation is a test that checks coral stress. This process is an evidence that the corals have been trying hard for sustaining. However, the researchers involved in the study expect that they could successfully induce this process within the corals, thereby providing them the increased capability to cope up in warm waters.
Previously, the corals in the Great Barrier Reef have survived many natural threats. However, the scientists involved in the study of the corals have said that if not controlled before time, the climate changes can kill the reefs leading to a condition of mass extinction.