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Scientists measure glow inside coral for first time

by Admin Staff
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Scientists measure glow inside coral for first time

Deep-water corals must somehow make do with the little sunlight that filters down 50 meters or more. Researchers have long suspected that fluorescent pigments help, but they have lacked direct evidence—until now.

Coral consists of invertebrate animals that build the skeleton and algae that live inside, sharing the food they make by photosynthesis. The animals have various ways to deal with fluctuations in light, such as expanding or contracting their tissues, which changes how the light reflects inside their skeleton. They also contain a variety of pigments, some of which glow when they are illuminated by visible light.

Using tiny sensors on the end of thin cables, researchers have now directly measured the light inside two kinds of coral kept in a laboratory aquarium. Fluorescent pigments absorbed blue-green light, which is the main wavelength that reaches into deeper water. The pigments then emitted orange-red light, as seen in the photo above of Echinophyllia, known as chalice coral.

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by Admin Staff


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