In this Newsletter...

We feature current research, events and outreach activities at SDSU's Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory.

In this issue:

Investigating the Effects of Iron on the Black Reefs

Photo of the Month
Shout outs!

Photo of the Month:

M.S. candidate, Breckie McCollum diving at one of her research sites in the Point Loma kelp forest of San Diego, CA. Breckie's thesis will investigate the effects of density-dependent mortality in juvenile giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera). Follow Breckie's research here: micromacrocystis (Photo credit: B. McCollum).



Join The Maritime Alliance for dinner at the 5th annual Maritime Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony. Once again the Fisheries & Seafood Technology Sector Working Group has stepped to the fore and pledged to provide the freshest local sustainable seafood for this annual extravaganza celebration of all things maritime. The dinner sold out the last two years, so don’t wait to buy your ticket. Click here for more information and directions.

What: 5th annual Maritime Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony
When: November 7th, 5:30pm 
WhereLiberty Station Conference Center

Shout outs:

Congratulations to MEBSA for being selected as the recipient of the Environmental Leadership Award for 2013! MEBSA will be presented the award at the 5th annual Maritime Gala Dinner & Awards Ceremony. Below is a letter to MEBSA regarding why they were selected:

"Your ability and commitment to engage with the community across disciplines, focus areas, target audiences and interest groups is inspiring. Your professionalism and dedication have been well-noted as has your passion for raising awareness and educating about OceanSTEM. The following words were used by community leaders, K-12 educators, university faculty, and industry professionals in providing their endorsements for your nomination (both collectively as an organization and acknowledging your many individual contributions): GREAT, AMAZING, TERRIFIC, PERFECT, ADMIRABLE, and most complimentary of all, MEBSA “PEEPS” ROCK! It has indeed been my distinct pleasure (and based on the emails I received this morning, I feel confident in saying that many others share the sentiment) to have gotten to know all of you and your organization over the last year, and I look forward to 2014 as a transformative year for OceanSTEM and MEBSA. Congratulations!" - Bill Riedy

Congratulations to Dr. Carl Carrano for receiving the $15,000 COAST Research Development Grant for "Boron in a Changing Ocean: Not so “Boring” Anymore?"!

Recent Publications
Weerasinghe, A.J. , S.A. Amin, R.A. Barker, T. Othman, A.N. Romano, C.J. Parker Siburt, J. Tisnado, L.A. Lambert, T. Huxford, C.J. Carrano, and A.L. Crumbliss. 2013. Borate as a synergistic anion for Marinobacter algicola ferric binding protein, FbpA: A role for boron in iron transport in marine life. Journal of the American Chemical Society 135:14504-14507

Investigating the Effects of Iron on the Black Reefs

 By Dr. Carl Carrano, Professor, SDSU

Coral reefs are some of the most important and unique environments in the ocean. There has been increasing concern over their decline in recent years as they may represent the proverbial “canary in the coalmine” with respect to potential coming ecological problems generally thought to be caused global warming and ocean acidification. Another less widely discussed hypothesis is that detrimental changes in some coral reef ecosystems could be engendered by increased iron inputs or iron “fertilization” whether from shipwrecks, wildfires, “geoengineering” or other sources. One of the most recent and well documented example supporting such an alternative hypothesis are the “Black Reefs” found near shipwreck sites in the Pacific Line islands. The “Black Reefs” are so called because the water there is cloudy, there is an almost complete lack of larger fish and the ocean floor around such degraded reefs is dark colored due to being overrun by seaweeds and other “turf” algae rather than lively colored corals.  The evidence that the change from a pristine coral reef community to a degraded one is due to increased iron availability, as a result of shipwrecks, is well established. Observations demonstrated that adding extra iron to normally extremely low nutrient waters, such as those that are the home to coral reef communities, results in bacterial and algal “blooms”.  However the specific mechanism whereby the increased iron input is being made bioavailable to the coral’s competitor algae remains unknown. 


A team of divers conducting research on a reef of the Line Islands (Photo: F. Rohwer).

Now a new, collaborative, interdisciplinary research team composed of members of bioinorganic chemist Carl Carrano’s research group and biologist Forest Rohwer’s group at SDSU is poised to try and address some of these issues. Later in October of 2013 members of the Rohwer group will be making a return cruise to the Line Islands to reinvestigate the “Black Reefs,” Together, we have proposed several hypotheses to account for the effects of iron on the reef community. This new collaboration provides a unique means to test these new ideas by bringing back various types of samples for analysis. Our results could provide justification for removing large shipwrecks from reefs as a means to reduce coral reef decline.

Water samples collected surrounding the reef and brought up to the surface for analysis (Photo: F. Rohwer).

Author: Dr. Carl Carrano, Professor, contact at

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