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Las estrellas de mar se extinguen por misteriosa enfermedad

enero 7, 2021

Varias especies de estrellas de mar en el mundo están al borde de la extinción debido a una misteriosa enfermedad debilitante que, en los últimos siete años, ha mermado de forma considerable las poblaciones de los asteroideos.

Así lo determinó una investigación llevada a cabo por la Universidad de Cornell. El estudio sugiere que las estrellas de mar pueden estar sufriendo una dificultad respiratoria que las lleva, literalmente, a ahogarse en su propio entorno.

La razón principal sería la elevada actividad microbiana derivada de la materia orgánica cercana, además de las temperaturas altas del océano.

La imagen muestra a un grupo de estrellas de mar en el fondo del océano.
Shutterstock.

“Las estrellas de mar difunden oxígeno sobre su superficie exterior a través de pequeñas estructuras llamadas pápulas o branquias de la piel. Si no hay suficiente oxígeno alrededor de las pápulas, las estrellas de mar no pueden respirar”, señaló en un comunicado Ian Hewson, profesor de microbiología de la Universidad de Cornell.

De acuerdo con el mismo investigador, las condiciones del océano estimulan la producción de cantidades inusuales de material orgánico.

Esto impulsa a las bacterias a desarrollarse; a medida que las bacterias consumen la materia orgánica, agotan el oxígeno en el agua, lo que afecta y pone en riesgo a las estrellas de mar.

“Es una cascada de problemas que comienza con cambios en el medio ambiente”, agrega el experto, quien explicó la necesidad de realizar más estudios científicos sobre la enfermedad que amenaza a las estrellas de mar.

“Parece que se está transmitiendo una enfermedad”, añadió a raíz de los resultados del estudio publicado en Frontiers in Microbiology.

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