I was interviewed recently by Robyn Williams for ABC’s “Science show” on the moonlight mass spawning of corals on the GBR I posted here earlier this month (“Keylight found to moonlight romance“). Click below to listen to the interview, read the transcript here or download the podcast.

 


“There are 400 species of corals and hundreds of invertebrates on the Great Barrier Reef. Many spawn in mass over a couple of nights after the full moon in October or November. So how do they all know to do it together? It seems that corals can detect moonlight. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg explains how a class of proteins has been discovered which tune circadian rhythms. They are produced by a particular gene. So despite the faintness of moonlight, organisms can detect it and time their spawning to maximise the chance of reproduction.

When the spawning happens, the sea is clouded with eggs and sperm. Mass spawning is a strategy to lessen the impact of predators. It may be the biggest sex event on earth. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg speculates on the origin of this mechanism.”

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