Saturday, April 5, 2014

Gorgonian Corals Plexaura homomalla Producing Prostaglandin

The very deep of the ocean remains a mystery to us still. Although there is so much more yet to discover, there are some advanced findings that have been accomplished thus far. Did you know that specific gorganian corals are capable of producing antibiotics? The article that I found on Plexaura homomalla is titled "Prostaglandin A2: an agent of chemical defense in the Caribbean gorgandian Plexaura homomalla" by Donald J Gerhart. They can be immune suppressing compounds and also agents of preventing cancer. I came across an article that fascinated me because it was well detailed in explaining the find of a specific coral known as Plexaura homomalla. A very interesting fact that I did know previously before reading this journal article was that the coral can contain high levels of this compound that has been linked to treat not only heart disease, but asthma, as well.

The article states that the hypothesis is that the PGA2 derivatives of the Plexaura homomalla indeed  are a chemical defense mechanism especially in this case study against fish. The amount of prostaglandin compound that is a form from fatty acids produced by this organism is about a million times more than that of any other. The article does explain that when the compound when taken orally can cause diarrhea and nausea. The organism is found in the Caribbean oceans, but yet the actual function for it has not yet been truly identified. In this experimental article, the tissue of the gorganian coral was toxic to goldfish. Through various tests, it was concluded that the fish that were exposed to the coral that contain the prostaglandin compound seemed to oppose it rather than the control group. In Figure 2, the percentage of pellets of the gorganian offered to the fish after once, twice and a third time decreased drastically each time to the fish. It was interesting to read that in Table 5, the acceptance and rejection of these pellets offered to another type of fish known as yellow-head wrasses were tested and recorded for results. Both acceptance and rejection were opposite from that of the control results. 

Table 6 also recorded the results of the pellet, the type of pellet (15-S PGA2 and control) and the effect of how it biologically affected the fish. The results of this article and experiment indeed support the hypothesis because there was a chemical defense of these specific species of gorgonian corals to have a defense on fish of all sorts whether it was gold fish or yellow-head wrasses. By rejecting more of the pellets containing the compound, the gorgonian was indeed proved to have a defense mechanism in protecting its species from preditors. Because not much is known about deep sea organisms, I found this article fascinating because the level of interaction that corals play in the ocean's environment really fascinate me. I think that the fact that these organisms contain such a potent compound to certain organisms and yet, can also potentially have the ability to aid in human treatment could be a fascinating new discovery to be made, as well. This experiment was done quite some time ago but I wanted to focus on it because imagine at this time how fascinating this information could have been. From there, it could have been useful to know that this compound might administer negative effects to fish, but what about humans. I think this was just the beginning and it is all really interesting. Because not much is known about the true purpose of the compound other than it helps in the defense of the gorganian corals defense at a chemical level, there are definitely future studies that could elaborate on this type of research.

Gerhart, D. J. (August 1984). Gorgonian Corals Plexaura homomalla Producing Prostaglandin. Marine 
              Ecology. Vol. 19: (pp. 181-187). 

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