Last updated September 6, 2017 at 9:50 am
The deadly crown-of-thorns starfish have a weakness that researchers believe they can use to their advantage.
These starfish are a huge threat to reefs because “they feast on the coral and leave it bleached white and vulnerable to destruction in heavy storms,” Prof Bernard Degnan said.
“Millions of dollars have been spent over many years on a variety of ways to capture crown-of-thorns starfish, whether it be via diver collection, injections or robotics.”
Through sequencing the genome of the crown-of-thorns starfish, husband-and-wife team Professor Bernard Degnan and Associate Professor Sandie Degnan from The University of Queensland found that the power of attraction through pheromones could save the Great Barrier Reef.
These pheromones are detected at spawning sites for these starfish. “These are the signals the other starfish recognise and migrate to,” he said.
Who could resist the power of attraction?
“Now we’ve found the genes the starfish use to communicate, we can begin fabricating environmentally safe baits that trick them into gathering in one place, making it easier to remove reproductively-primed animals.”
By using these pheromones to attract the starfish to one location, they could be safely removed in large quantities and thus save the reef!
- RELATED VIDEO: Meet chemist and technical officer Peter Thomas-Hall who also works to solve the problem of crown-of-thorns starfish at Australian Institute of Marine Science.
- Link to original research article in Nature
- Further reading via ABC: ab.co/2ncL1HC
Thumbnail image credit: iStock