Rutgers University scientists have pinpointed the process corals use to make their hard skeletons, according to a release. They are the first to fully describe it.
The team found proteins secreted by corals precipitate carbonate that becomes the creatures’ skeleton. Even more intriguing was the finding that production of the proteins didn’t stop in acidic water.
The finding is key, given the rising acidity of the world’s oceans. If corals can continue to make tough shells, perhaps they can partly protect themselves, though researchers say pollution and rising water temperatures are still a concern for corals worldwide.
Image: A coral reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands (Credit: NOAA)