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Linkage between insects, Coral Reefs

News18test sharma |

Updated: June 7, 2011, 2:53 PM IST
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Linkage between insects, Coral Reefs
MALAPPURAM: If validated, this pathbreaking study through DNA bar coding of coral reefs could well prove some kind of linkage betw..

MALAPPURAM: If validated, this pathbreaking study through DNA bar coding of coral reefs could well prove some kind of linkage between the evolutionary history of soft corals and that of insects.

Because that is what a research team from the Department of Zoology, University of Calicut, has claimed to have found from a DNA sequence of corals, which they have published a few days back in Genbank, the open database of the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), USA.

The research team, led by Dr K V Lazar, head of the Zoology department, in its effort to genetically map coral reefs in the country for the first time, has identified four new species of soft coral reefs near Lakshadweep islands which are more close to insects than hard corals.

The new species of corals were located in the Arabian Sea at a depth of about 2030 metres near Agatti islands.

"We have collected 109 species of coral reefs in two years of study and identified these four new species through DNA bar coding. We initially thought that they were connected to hard corals, but eventually realised that their genetic proximity was more towards insects and even crustaceans like prawns. We are conducting further studies to unveil the link between insects and soft corals", said Lazar.

The team has determined the structure of a specific gene called COII (Cytochrome Oxidase Subunit II) found in the mitochondria (a particle in the cells) of these reefs and has tentatively named the species as Sarcophyton sp. LKS7, Sarcophyton sp. LK2010a isolate S8, Sarcophyton sp. LK2010a isolate S20 and Sarcophyton glaucum isolate S25.

"Though DNA bar coding is done in India for other purposes, such a study on coral reefs is the first of its kind in the country", said George Thomas, scientistin charge, Regional Facility for DNA Fingerprinting at Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram.

The team has spotted two more new species of corals during their study, and their DNA bar coding is being done", Lazar said.

Dr U V K Mohamed, Dr K Padmakumar, Dr P A Rosy, V P Akhilesh, K Mashhoor and V S Shaniba were the other members of the research team.

A similar project to determine the DNA sequencing in Indian honeybees is also under way at the department.

The study was conducted under a research project funded by Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

First Published: June 7, 2011, 2:53 PM IST
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