Rainbow Of Glowing Corals Discovered In Depths Of The Red Sea
(Click to enlarge) Fluorescence of corals commonly found in mesophotic reefs of the Red Sea. (Credit: Jörg Wiedenmann/University of Southampton)
Glowing corals that display a surprising array of colours have been discovered in the deep water reefs of the Red Sea by scientists from the University of Southampton, UK, Tel Aviv University and the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences (IUI), Israel, together with an international team of researchers.
(From ScienceDaily) — The researchers, whose findings have been published online today in research journal PLOS ONE, hope that some of the coral pigments could be developed into new imaging tools for medical applications. The team studied corals at depths of more than 50 metres and found that many of them glow brightly with fluorescent colours, ranging from green over yellow to red. The encounter of such a rainbow of coral colours in deep waters was unexpected, since their shallow-water counterparts in the same reef contain only green fluorescent pigments.
Jörg Wiedenmann, Professor of Biological Oceanography and Head of the University of Southampton’s Coral Reef Laboratory, explains: “These fluorescent pigments are proteins. When they are illuminated with blue or ultraviolet light, they give back light of longer wavelengths, such as reds or greens. “Their optical properties potentially make them important tools for biomedical imaging applications, as their fluorescent glow can be used to highlight living cells or cellular structures of interest under the microscope. They could also be applied to track cancer cells or as tools to screen for new drugs.”
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