Florida scientists induce spawning of Atlantic coral in lab for first time
Robie de Guzman • August 23, 2019 • 1702
Scientists in Florida have artificially induced reproductive spawning of an endangered Atlantic coral species for the first time in an aquarium setting, a breakthrough they say holds great promise in efforts to restore depleted reefs in the wild.
The achievement, announced this week at the Florida Aquarium in Apollo Beach near Tampa, borrowed from lab techniques developed at the London-based Horniman Museum and Gardens and used previously to induce spawning of 18 species of Pacific coral, officials said.
Scientists plan to use their newly acquired expertise to breed new coral colonies that can one day repopulate the beleaguered Florida reef system, one of the largest in the world and one decimated by climate change, pollution and disease in recent decades.
The newly cultivated corals should make for even stronger populations than existing colonies because each individual will be bred with characteristics that may be better able to withstand damage, Keri O’Neil, senior coral scientist at the Florida Aquarium told Reuters.
Inducing corals to release their eggs and sperm in aquarium tanks involves controlling their artificial settings to mimic their natural ocean habitat over the course of a yearlong reproduction cycle.
That means carefully regulating water temperature changes from summer to winter, and using special lighting to imitate sunrise, sunset and even lunar cycles that serve as biological cues for the coral in preparing to spawn.
Collaboration between the Florida and London facilities on the project began in 2017 as the situation facing Florida’s reefs grew more dire because of the spread of a new coral affliction dubbed Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.
Atlantic pillar coral, which grows in colonies resembling finger- or column-like structures, has been particularly susceptible to the disease and is already classified as virtually extinct in the wild because remaining male and female colonies are too scattered to reproduce.
Corals are a type of marine invertebrate animal, typically living in colonies of tiny sac-like polyps that feed by filtering seawater through a set of tentacles surrounding a central mouth opening.
Corals are sensitive to major changes in water temperature, and the Florida Reef Tract, like other major reefs around the world, has been under pressure from climate change for years as the sea grows steadily warmer. (Reuters)
India became the latest country after Brazil and Thailand to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in what could potentially be the biggest move against vaping globally over growing health concerns.
The ban, which also covers the production, import and advertising of e-cigarettes, cuts off a huge future market from e-cigarette makers at a time when the number of people smoking worldwide is declining.
“There has been a 77 percent increase in addiction of e-cigarettes among school-going or college-going young adults, teenagers, and children because nicotine addiction is quick and it is harmful as well,” Indian Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Preeti Sudan said.
India has 106 million smokers, second only to China.
The ban could also dash the expansion plans of companies such as Altria, backed Juul Labs, and Philip Morris International into the country.
“$150 billion opportunity, now that’s what is estimated, the nicotine market is going to be, why are we denying our farmers that, why are we denying our citizens a right to a less harmful product, these are questions that I would really like to ask the government,” Praveen Rikhy, Trade Representatives of endsin India said. (Reuters)
Facebook Inc. unveiled new models of its Portal video chatting devices on Wednesday (September 18), making the company’s first foray into TV streaming hardware but offering a limited selection of subscription services.
The launch comes as Facebook is trying to pivot toward more private forms of communication, after years of slowing user growth, data-sharing scandals and calls for change to its hands-off approach to content moderation.
The company is already one of the biggest global players in private messaging, with its WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram apps used by 2.4 billion people each month.
It is keeping the focus of its new Portal line on video calling, adding the capability for WhatsApp calls along with improvements to a wide-angle camera that keeps users in focus as they move about a room.
Facebook is also expanding Portal sales into countries including the UK, France and Australia, while lowering prices to more closely compete with industry-leading smart speakers from Amazon and Google that sell for under $100.
Standard models of the Portal, which ship on Oct. 15, will come in $129 and $179 versions. Portal TV will cost $149 and hit the shelves on Nov. 5.
Facebook is hoping the social nature of its products will be their selling point, allowing users to watch shows together while interacting via video call on the same screen.
“I think that in a couple years’ time, if you have a smart streaming device that doesn’t have a camera allowing you to video call people, you’re not going to have a competitive product,” said vice president of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth. “I think this is the killer feature for a device like this.”
Bosworth also touted privacy protections like local processing of smart features on the devices, which means most user data will not be sent back to Facebook servers.
But Portal TV offers only a few music apps and has limited options for TV programming, meaning it could face a stiff challenge in attracting consumers used to content-rich rivals like Apple TV, Netflix and Roku.
At a demonstration in San Francisco on Tuesday, the only way to stream shows appeared to be via Facebook’s Watch app. Executives said Portal TV would have Amazon’s Prime Video app loaded by the time it is available.
The company declined to say whether it had approached other content providers like HBO, Hulu or Disney.
Facebook does not disclose how many Portals it has sold since the device’s launch late last year, but hardware accounts for a tiny slice of the company’s total sales.
The social media giant makes less than 2 percent of its revenue from non-advertising sources. (Reuters)
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.