From curcumin an aid against coral bleaching -

From curcumin an aid against coral bleaching -

The study by the Italian Institute of Technology and the University of Milan-Bicocca, in collaboration with the Genoa Aquarium, demonstrates the effectiveness of a substance extracted from turmeric in reducing coral bleaching, a phenomenon mainly caused by climate change

For years the beneficial effect has been studied the molecule extracted from turmeric has on human health. However, no one had imagined using the extract of the medicinal plant to save the corals from bleaching caused by climate change. Researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology and the University of Milan - Bicocca were the first to think about it, who discovered the mechanism for using this powerful natural probiotic on coral reefs, useful for mitigating the heating effect that undermines the balance of these delicate living organisms. The results of the study, carried out in collaboration with the Acquario di Genova, were recently published in the journal Acs Applied Materials and Interfaces. Our research is pioneering because this system is able to bring biodegradable and biocompatible materials underwater and to administer molecules to the corals that can cure any form of stress, tells the Corriere della Sera
Simon MontanoDISAT researcher and deputy director of the MaRHE Center (Marine Research and Higher Education Center) of the Bicocca University.

Coral bleaching is a phenomenon that, in extreme events, determines the death of these organisms with devastating consequences for coral reefs, fundamental to the global economy, coastal protection from natural disasters and marine biodiversity. Most corals live in symbiosis with microscopic algae, essential for their survival and responsible for their brilliant colours. Due to climate change, the temperatures of the seas and oceans are increasing, a condition that interrupts the relationship between these two organisms. When it happens to us, the coral, now white due to the loss of algae, is literally in danger of starving to death, continues Montano. In recent years, as a result of climate change, this condition has affected most of the world's major coral reefs, including Australia's Great Barrier Reef. However, today there are no effective mitigation measures to prevent coral bleaching without seriously endangering the integrity of these habitats and the exceptional associated biodiversity (here is the smart patch that cures corals: Acquario di Genova and Bicocca di Milano allies for diseased reefs).

The researchers of IIT and Bicocca have demonstrated leffectiveness of a natural molecule, curcumin, in halting coral bleaching caused by climate change. The novelty lies in the fact that this substance comes administered in a controlled manner on the coral applying a zein-based biomaterial, a protein derived from corn. During the tests, carried out at the Genoa Aquarium, the overheating conditions of tropical seas were simulated by raising the water temperature up to 33C. In this condition all the untreated corals were affected by the bleaching phenomenon as it would happen in nature, while - on the contrary - all specimens treated with curcumin showed no signs of this phenomenon, results that make this method effective in reducing the sensitivity of corals to thermal stress. A particular species of coral was used for this study (Stylophora pistillata) typical of the tropical Indian Ocean, included in the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature) among the species threatened by extinction. This technology is the subject of a filed patent application and, not surprisingly, the next steps of this research will focus on the application in nature and on a large scale, concludes Marco Contardi, first author of the study and affiliated researcher of the Smart Materials group of the Italian Institute of Technology and researcher of the DISAT (Department of Environmental and Earth Sciences) of Bicocca. At the same time, we will examine the use of other antioxidants of natural origin to block the bleaching process and thus prevent the destruction of coral reefs.

July 19, 2023 (change July 19, 2023 | 21:51)

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