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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Gobies on Guard Duty
8 November 2012 2:00 pm
What do a Pacific reef-forming coral and Justin Bieber have in common? They both have bodyguards. But, in the case of the coral, the bodyguards are adorable little fish called gobies. Branching corals such as Acropora nasuta face many threats, including warming waters and ocean acidification; but with the help of the gobies, there is at least one threat they can do something about: seaweed. Seaweed can grow on coral and block out light; some types of seaweed may even wage a chemical war on the coral. Researchers suspected that coral-dwelling fish may be helping to protect their hosts from this nearby competitor—so to test this, the scientists put the coral-harassing seaweed Chlorodesmis fastigiata next to heads of A. nasuta—and they found that corals occupied by the gobies Gobiodon histrio or Paragobiodon echinocephalus stayed healthier. In fact, the corals seem to be signaling to the gobies for help: The gobies didn't respond to injections of a chemical extract from C. fastigiata in water, but when the researchers injected the seaweed extract near the coral, the guard gobies promptly rushed over, apparently looking for the offending seaweed. It's not just guard duty for the gobies; they get something out of it, too. The fish produce a frothy mucus when threatened—exposure to the mucus makes predators lose their equilibrium, tipping forward or sideways—and consuming the seaweed seems to amp up the power of that mucus, the researchers found. When the mucus came from gobies living on a coral adjacent to the nasty seaweed, the predators' dizziness came on much faster.
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