Advances in Earth Science ›› 2019, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (12): 1234-1242. doi: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2019.12.1234

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The Geochemical Significance of Deep-water Coral and Their Food Source

Zhongyuan Luo( ),Jiangtao Li,Guodong Jia( )   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Shanghai 200092, China
  • Received:2019-11-10 Revised:2019-11-29 Online:2019-12-10 Published:2020-02-12
  • Contact: Guodong Jia;
  • About author:Luo Zhongyuan (1996-), male, Chongqing City, Master student. Research areas include organic geochemistry. E-mail:

Zhongyuan Luo,Jiangtao Li,Guodong Jia. The Geochemical Significance of Deep-water Coral and Their Food Source[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2019, 34(12): 1234-1242.

Deep-sea corals live in the dark cold-water environments, the food of which that provides them with energy and nutrition is a key ecological and biogeochemical problem. Currently, the most common understanding is that their food mainly comes from organic matter produced by and deposited from surface seawater. However, more and more studies have found that they can also obtain food supply through symbiosis with a variety of chemosynthetic autotrophs and heterotrophs. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes have been used to trace and reveal the food sources of deep-sea corals. They also have been successfully used to reconstruct the phytoplankton community structure and the changes of nitrate isotopes in surface seawater in the past, thus providing valuable biogeochemical data for paleoceanographic study. However, due to the widespread existence of symbiosis with chemosynthetic autotrophs, further studies are needed to assess the reliability of organic carbon and nitrogen isotopes of deep-sea corals to reflect changes in the surface seawater. The deep-sea gorgonian coral, like those gorgonian forests recently found in the South China Sea, is relatively new and insufficiently studied in the field of deep-sea corals. Thus, basic biochemical and paleoceanographic researches on the South China Sea deep-water gorgonians will provide profound and novel insights to understanding the cold-water coral system.

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