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Shvoong Home>Science>Biology>Coral Reef Ecosystems - A Repository of Marine Products Summary

Coral Reef Ecosystems - A Repository of Marine Products

Article Summary   by:Sangamam     Original Author: S.B.Sanjeevi and S Ajmalkhan
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CORAL REEF ECOSYSTEM – A REPOSITORY OF MARINE PRODUCTS Coral reefs are lime stone structures made up of billions of tiny marine animals called ‘Polyps”. About 60% of the world’s reef are covered by Indian Ocean( an area about 73,600,000 sq.kms.). The great barrier off Queensland of Australia has the biggest aggregation of reefs in the world, having a length of 1931 kms and with a varying width of 16 to 322 Kms. India holds 10th place among countries blessed with coral reef. A total of 208 species have been hitherto known from India. Coral reefs consists of a diverse assemblage of invertebrates such as tunicates, bryozoans, sponges,echinoderms mollusks etc. Since they are lowly organized they do not have well defined organs for defence and offence, but they emit their toxins to the surrounding water in order to kill or repel the enemies, It is also required to prevent the overgrowth of competing organisms. These bioactive compounds may be synthesized by the organism or by endosymbiotic microorganisms that inhabit in the tissues. This chemical armory can be made useful to mankind as suitable pharmaceuticals like antitumour , antiviral ,painkillers etc.
eg- Dolostatin10, Ara-A, Ara-C, and AZT etc.also pesticides,enzymes and cosmetics. The potential importance of coral reefs as source novel drugs and medicines are still not understood by public and policy makers. Among coral communities, sponges are the ideal candidates for bioprospecting. Because a single sponge species can be populated by dozens of different symbiotic bacteria that provide a wide variety of drugs. Japanese researchers have identified at least 100 species of sponges worth biomedical applications. Coastal populations worldwide continue to rely on coral reefs for their traditional uses. Increased unsustainable rates of collection coupled with pollution, habitat destruction and climatic changes are threatening the vitality of this precious ecosystem. Research communities, government agencies and private sector are to interact effectively to preserve this asset.
Published: January 27, 2008   
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