Home > news > Genomics Guides Restoration of Coral Affected by Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Genomics Guides Restoration of Coral Affected by Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Published on: 10/31/2017
Research Area(s): Marine Spatial Ecology / Coral
Region(s) of Study: Waterbodies / Gulf of Mexico
Primary Contact(s): peter.etnoyer@noaa.gov

 

A team of scientists and explorers, including researchers from the NCCOS Deep Coral Ecology Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, completed its first season of fieldwork in the Gulf of Mexico, collecting samples of deep-sea coral species affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The team conducted two research expeditions between July and October of 2017, using remotely operated vehicles to sample deep-water corals at multiple locations, ranging from depths of 150 to 7,218 feet.

The team will use restriction-site associated DNA (RAD) sequencing techniques to reveal the population structure of the coral species sampled. RAD-tag sequencing—a new method, roughly 10 years in existence—has been used effectively in studies of phylogeography and population genomics. By understanding the distribution of coral species, the genetic connectivity of their populations, and the human impacts to these populations, the researchers can provide information needed to restore and manage deep-sea corals in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The two-year project, funded by the NOAA RESTORE Science Program, is led by Dr. Santiago Herrera of Lehigh University, and includes researchers from NCCOS, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvey Mudd College, Temple University, and the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

Deep-water sea fans (Swiftia exserta) at a depth of 210 feet on East Flower Garden Bank off the Texas coast. The species is known to have been negatively affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Deep-water sea fans (Swiftia exserta) at a depth of 210 feet on East Flower Garden Bank off the Texas coast. The species is known to have been negatively affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Credit: NOAA.

Explore Similar News
NCCOS-with-tag-to-side-bld

NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources, in direct support of NOS priorities, offices, and customers, and to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science
1305 East West Highway, Rm 8110
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (240) 533-0300 / Fax: (301) 713-4353
Email: nccos.webcontent@noaa.gov