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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

#GlowingCorals feature at the Royal Society

Published: 5 July 2017
Fluorescent properties of coral
Image credit: Prof. J. Wiedenmann

Researchers from the University are studying the fluorescent properties of reef corals to provide us with potentially life-saving tools, and to gain insights into the health of corals themselves.

The research is the focus of a major display at this year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, open from 4 – 9 July in central London (Carlton Terrace, SW1Y 5AG). The exhibition is a free festival of visionary science and technology featuring universities and their collaborators from across the UK.

Southampton’s hands-on contribution to the Exhibition has been organised by Prof. Jörg Wiedenmann and Dr. Cecilia D’Angelo from Ocean and Earth Science. The #GlowingCorals exhibit will allow visitors to use blue LED torches and special filter goggles in a dark room to explore the fluorescence of corals, anemones and bio-engineered bacteria that produce glowing coral pigments.

Visitors can learn about the value of fluorescence in habitat mapping by having a go at playing a game where individuals spot and mark coral recruits in daylight and under fluorescence conditions. In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to apply glowing face paint and explore what happens in the dark fluorescence room.

Professor Jörg Wiedenmann, Head of the Coral Reef Laboratory at the University’s Waterfront Campus commented:

We are exploring whether fluorescence can be used to monitor coral health in the reef as this could help, for example, to analyse how corals respond to different forms of environmental stress. Reef organisms can provide us with potential life-saving tools and products so we need to act now and protect this pharmaceutical treasure chest.

You can watch a video of the University’s #GlowingCorals exhibit below.

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