2014 Space for Life Lecture Series - Why Do Some Corals Emit Light?

MONTRÉAL, April 8, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - As part of its lecture series, Montréal Space for Life is presenting Dr. Anya Salih, an Australian scientist fascinated by the mysterious phenomenon of coral fluorescence, at 7:30 p.m. on April 16, at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Why do some corals emit light? Under what conditions? How can this phenomenon contribute to biomedicine and biotechnology? What can we learn from these marvels of marine biodiversity that use such unusual adaptation strategies to survive?

Fighting light with light
Sunlight is vital to coral, but too much of a good thing can also prove fatal. The stress caused by excessive sunlight, often combined with seawater warming, disrupts this complex and vital association between corals and the microalgae living in their cells. The imbalance can actually kill the algae and lead to a phenomenon known as coral bleaching. Could fluorescence be a way of channelling light energy and protecting coral from too much sunlight? Marine biologist Anya Salih is interested in coral fluorescence and the impact of this light on the organism. Her studies have shown that fluorescent corals are better protected from the sun and more resistant to rising temperatures and hence to bleaching.

Anya Salih, an internationally acclaimed researcher
A research scientist at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) and Head Scientist of the University's Confocal Bio-imaging Facility, Dr. Salih is working with an international multidisciplinary team to solve the mystery of coral fluorescence. Could this protective mechanism inspire new advances in biomedicine and biotechnology? Dr. Salih hopes so, and is conducting research into the properties of the fluorescent proteins of these corals to increase the solar-gathering efficiencies of solar cells.

2014 lecture series – Featuring some remarkable speakers
Over the next five weeks, the Space for Life lecture series will be presenting a panel of four experts, all members of the jury for the Space for Life international architecture competition, who will be discussing architecture and nature (April 23), Serge Payette (May 7), a leading expert in ecosystems north of the 54th parallel, and well-known biologist and filmmaker Jean Lemire (May 21).

About Space for Life
Montréal Space for Life is made up of four attractions on the same site: the Botanical Garden, Biodôme, Insectarium and Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. These four prestigious institutions form Canada's largest natural science museum complex. Together, they are launching a daring, creative urban movement, urging everyone to rethink the connection between humankind and nature and cultivate a new way of living.

Information about UWS coral research: uws.edu.au/newscentre/news_centre/special_features/coral_research

For further information and to purchase tickets online, see our website: montrealspaceforlife.ca


2014 lecture series
Anya Salih
Wednesday, April 16, 7:30 p.m.
Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium
Regular admission $12 / Student rate $9


Additional information:
The lecture will be given in English, with simultaneous interpretation in French.
The lecture will be accompanied by video images of coral fluorescence.


The film Coral: Rekindling Venus, which was to have been presented at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, has been cancelled for technical reasons.


SOURCE: Espace pour la vie

For further information: Caroline Gamache, Marketing Representative, Montréal Space for Life, (514) 868-3038, caroline.gamache@ville.montreal.qc.ca


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