Genetic Diversity of the Coral Reef System in the Pacific Region

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There are few misconceptions about what are corals? Are they plants? Or are they animals? Coral reef are the rain forests of the sea. It is the most biologically diverse marine ecosystem, yet they only cover a small portion of the ocean floor and many of their inhabitants remain a mystery. The number of invertebrate species that live in the coral reefs is estimated to range from 1 to 10 million, many of which are still unknown and not yet discoverd. In addition to corals, encrusting bryozoans, sponges, and calcareous red algae act as biological-cement, keeping the reef framework intact. The diverse benthic flora and fauna along with the calcium carbonate under structure increases the habitat heterogeneity, which provides a refuges from predators for invertebrates such as crabs, lobster, sea urchins, small fishes, and molluscs. The diversity of pelagic species is equally vast. Above waters where the coral reefs are found, nearly 25% of all marine fishes are found. therefor, it is one of the most diverse ecosystem on the planet, on-par with their terrestrial counterpart, tropical rain forests.

The “coral triangle is an are in the western pacific region where a diverse species of marine organism gather. The area is comprise of the Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines waters. known for its diverse species of nearly 600 of reef-building corals alone, and six of the worlds seven species of marine turtles and more than 2000 species of reef fishes are being foster here. it also supports a large number of commercialize tuna, supporting a billion dollar worth of tuna industry worldwide, millions of lives depends on the coral triangle and relies on the coral reefs for sustenance, and protection from waves that is form by storms.

Corals are marine colonial invertebrates (meaning animals that don't have backbone) that are found in ocean floor. Hermatypic are corals that are known to construct reefs, or “hard” corals, generate a hard, durable exoskeleton that protects their soft, sac like bodies by taking out calcium carbonate from the seawater. While “soft” corals are known to be species of corals that are not related in reef building. These kinds of corals are pliable organism usually hold a similarity to tress and plants that comprise of species such as sea fans and sea whips.

Coral reef formation

Coral reefs form from free- swimming coral larvae that will attach to plunged rocks or other solid surface through the sea bottom. As the corals develop and grow, the reefs has three significant characteristics structures barrier, fringing, or atoll. the most familiar is the fringing reefs, from the shore it extend seawards at-once, it creates boundary along the neighboring islands and its onshore. Barrier reefs also borders shorelines, but in a wider range. They are separated from their close by land mass by an open lake, often below water. If a fringing reef aptitude around a volcanic islands that sinks thoroughly below sea level while the coral remains to grow upward, an atoll forms, normally atolls are oval or circular, with arch lagoon. Pieces of the reef structure may arise as additional islands, and space between the reefs gives ingress to the arch lagoon.

In addition to being some of the most attractive and biologically diverse habitats in the ocean, barrier reefs and atolls also are some of the most aged, with unfolding rates of 0.3 to 2 centimeters per year for branching corals, it can take up to 10,000 years for a coral reef to arrange from a bunch of larvae. Reckoning on their size, barrier reefs and atolls can take from 100,000 to 30,000,000 years to completely form.

All three reef stripes, fringing, barrier, and atoll share proportions in their biogeographic articles, basic topography, lore, wave and course strength, light, temperature, and transferred sediments all act to conceive characteristic horizontal and vertical zones of corals, algae and other species. These zones vary in accordance to the locality and stripes of reef, as they move seaward from the shore, are the reef flat, reef crest or algal ridge, buttress zone, and seaward slope.

Coral reef ecological function

coral reef structure also buffers the shoreline against 97% of the energy that is produce by waves, storm, and floods, helping to prevent loss of life, property damage and erosion. The absence of this natural barrier can increase the damage to coastal communities form normal wave action to violent storm. Several million people live in coastal areas adjacent to or near coral reefs.

B. Coral physiology

Octocorallians have an inmost chassis. Part of mid way chassis stows calcic spicules. Spicules are also most piled of blend. They petrify and save the polyps. Other octocolorians own central abstract obliged up of proteid. Reef-building corals beam an outer gaunt cup of a dysprosium carbonate. This bony cup fends the polyp: when the polyp engage, its almost completely inside the skeletal cup. The stomach part of reef-building corals also involve dazzling lime barrier. These barrier involve up from polyps base and show the skeleton.

Since corals are animals they have small, tentacle like arm that they use to access their food from the water and sweep into their inscrutable mouths. The mouth leads into the stomach aperture. The stomach chamber partitioned by linear veil called mesenteries. It increases the aspect of the abdomen part, which aids in dissolution. The border of the mesolocon in the reef building corals batch long mobile fiber, these fiber can protrude direct the mouth to seize food. mesolocon also accommodate the genital cell.

C. Genetic Properties

A research conduct by The University of Queensland and James Cook University publish at the DNA level how coral link with ally same as algae and germs to divide methods and raise health resilient coral. UQ’s Dr Steven Robbins said the research can help in the renewal of the world’s prepared coral reefs.

“Symbiotic correlation are spectacular important for wealthy corals,” Dr Robbins said.

“Mostly evident example of this is coral whiten, where corals ban their algal symbiotic companion at higher-than-normal water condition,” he said.

“Algae make up the size of the coral’s food between photosynthesis, the coral will pass away if condition don’t bracing enough to let symbiosis to restore.

“It’s viable that justly main interchange are happening through corals and their germs and single-cell microorganisms (archaea), but we don’t know.

“To accurately cope our reefs, we need to know how these correlation work, and botany is one of our best tools.

“Botany accept us to look at each organism’s whole library of genes, helping us work out how coral symbiotic association might help coral health”.

“Research the scientists get hold of a sample of the coral Porites lutea from a reef near Orpheus Island, just north of Townsville.

In lab, they divide the coral animal, its algal ally and all partner microbes, extract each structure DNA.

“Once we’ve orderes the genomes, we use computer algorithms to look at the whole library of genes that each creatures has to work with,” Dr Robbins said.

“It let us to answer questions like, what nutrients does the coral need, but not make itself?”

Associate Professor David Bourne from JCU and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) said that having high-quality genomes for a coral and it’s microbial partners is hugely important.

“Large advances in human medication have been reach in the past 20 years since the human genome was unravel,” he said.

“Over the next 20 years, same knowledge of corals and how they function will emerge – this data set be a foundation for that.

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“The first time, we now have the genomes of a huge number of the microbes that make up this coral, which is amazing important for their endurace.

“It’s truly ground-breaking – this is the blueprint for coral and their symbiotic communities.”

The researchers hope the research may help imperilled coral reefs globally.

“Our coral coral reefs support incredible diversity and when we lose reefs, we lose far more than corals,” Dr Robbins said.

There are many threats to coral, but climate change is the most existential for our reefs.

“In 2016 and 2017, nearly 50 percent of all corals on the Great Barrier Reef died, and we don’t see this trajectory reversing if carbon emissions remain at current levels.

“But, as scientists we can try to understand what makes corals tick to devise ways to make them more resilient, and we’re delighted to have added to that body of knowledge.”

The researchers paid credit to Dr Sylvain Foret from ANU who contributed to the study up until his sudden death in 2016.

Corals can reproduce asexually and sexually, the reproductive method vary according to the species. Evolution is part of the life process of any living things, corals have evolved a remarkable range of reproductive strategies to survive in their dynamic environment. Reproduction is important for the survival of all living things. Without a mechanism of reproduction, life would come to an end.

Asexual reproduction is a type of reproduction that does not involve the fusion of gametes or change in the number of chromosomes. The offspring that arise by asexual reproduction from a single cell or from a multicellular organism inherit the genes of that parent.

Advantages of asexual reproduction

In asexual reproduction the organism spend less energy in producing offsprings, also, the organism doesn't require a mate so the process of reproduction is a lot faster. In terms of habitat conditions, organism that reproduce asexually has advantage, with a large number of organism, species would still survive even when the conditions change and the number of predators varies.

Disadvantages of asexual reproduction

Take note that asexual reproduction does not have genetic diversity. Asexual organism have lesser chance of adapting to environmental changes. Often, it require a single parent, from which the chromosomes and genes are copied. This means the genetic mutation or defects which could be bred out in asexual reproduction would be present in the offspring with no exception. Since the reproduction is faster in asexual organism, the problem of over population will occur and there's a big possibility that they would compete for food and space. It can also lead to unfavorable conditions for organism, such as extreme temperature, that can wipe out their entire community since that organism that is produce asexually have the same traits the chances of extinction is at a higher rate.

Processes of Asexual reproduction

Budding through budding, new polyps “bud” off from parent polyps to form new colonies. Budding is where a young coral grows out from the adult polyp. In biology, a form of asexual reproduction in which a new individual develops from some generative anatomical points of the parent organism. In some species buds may be produced from almost any point of the body, but in many cases budding is restricted to specialized areas.

Fragmentation an entire colony (rather than just a polyp) branches off to form a new colony. This may happen, for example, if a larger colony is broken off from the main colony during a storm or boat grounding. Fragmentation is a method where the body of the organism breaks into smaller pieces, called fragments and each segments grows into an adult individual.

B. Sexual reproduction

Sexual reproduction is the combination of (usually haploid, or having a single set of unpaired chromosomes) reproductive cells from two individuals to form a third (usually diploid, or having a pair of each type of chromosomes) unique offspring. Sexual reproduction produces offspring with novel combinations of genes.

Hermaphroditic species spawn both eggs and sperm together form each polyp. The eggs and sperm are spawned together in a bundle that protects them from dilution for a few minutes while they float up to the water surface, allowing them to be more collected.

Gonochoric species have colonies with separate sexes (male colonies produce sperm and female colonies produce eggs). Collecting gametes from these species is a greater challenge because gametes rapidly dilute in the water column.

Advantages of sexual reproduction

In sexual reproduction where two individual is needed to produce an offspring through joining the gametes of male and female during fertilization. It produces genetic variation in the community and will be able to adapt new environments due to this variation, which gives them a survival advantage. Another advantage is that if ever a disease or virus hits the population it will less likely to wipe out the entire community. Also the success rate of producing an offspring through sexual reproduction is almost 100%.

Disadvantages of sexual reproduction

the disadvantages of sexual reproduction is that its hard to find a mate that is genetically compatible. It is not possible for an isolated individual to reproduce, so the population of the species that reproduce via sexual reproduction is rather low or the process of which a specie propagate is slow compare to asexual reproduction.

Processes of sexual reproduction

Broadcast spawners generally spawn during annual mass spawning events in one or more consecutive months. For well-studied coral species, we can predict the timing almost to the minute. The annual cycling of water temperature sets the month, the moon cycle determines the day, and sunset triggers the spawning that usually occurs within a few hours after dusk.

Most corals are hermaphrodites each polyp is both male and female and from egg-sperm bundles a few hours before spawning. The bundles are released simultaneously within a few minutes and drift to the water surface. After about half and hour they break apart and become ready for fertilization. Having buoyant gametes that gather at the water surface in a defined volume of water ensures a high enough sperm concentration for successful fertilization.

For several days, the embryo drifts in the ocean as plankton while developing into a larva. It starts to divide and forms a spherical blastula within hours. Gastrulation then shapes a simple concave sac, called the gastrovascular cavity, which consist of two cell layers. Soon after cilia have developed on the larva's surface, it becomes mobile, and actively swims down to the sea floor to start searching for a suitable place to settle.

Brooding in most species, larvae release is determined by the moon cycle and occurs after sunset. Larvae of brooding species are available for a much longer time period, compared to the annual mass spawning event of broadcast spawners. Brooders usually release relatively few and large larvae that settle right after their release. The larvae typically have a brownish color due to the zooxanthellae that are present at the larvae’s release.

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Genetic Diversity of the Coral Reef System in the Pacific Region. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
“Genetic Diversity of the Coral Reef System in the Pacific Region.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
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