WorldFish’s Dr. John Benzie received recognition for his groundbreaking genetic studies on crown-of-thorns seastars in the 1990s and early 2000s.
PENANG, November 22, 2022 – A crown-of-thorns seastar native to the Red Sea was this week named after WorldFish’s Dr. John Benzie in recognition of his groundbreaking genetic studies on crown-of-thorns seastars in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The seastar, named Acanthaster benziei, has now been identified as a distinct species by a team led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München's Dr. Gert Wörheide, Professor of Paleontology and Geobiology and Dr. Gerhard Haszprunar, Professor of Systematic Zoology, using morphological studies and genetic analyses.
On the seastar named after him, WorldFish Acting Director of Aquatic Foods Biosciences Dr. John Benzie said:
“This is really a great honor. Being recognized for the work I’ve done several years ago is truly humbling.”
Crown-of-thorns seastars (Acanthaster spp.) can be found all over the Indo-Pacific region. Their enormous, poisonous spines that stick out from their arms are how they got their moniker. In some regions of the Indo-Pacific region, the coral-eating crown-of-thorns seastars pose one of the greatest threats to tropical coral reefs as they primarily feed on the polyps of fast-growing stony corals.
On the significance of this recognition, WorldFish Interim Director General and CGIAR Acting Senior Director of Aquatic Food Systems Dr. Essam Yassin Mohammed said:
“On behalf of everyone here at WorldFish and the wider scientific community, I would like to congratulate Dr. John Benzie on this significant recognition. It is indeed an immense privilege for all of us at WorldFish to call Dr. John Benzie our colleague. This will indeed inspire us all to continue our pursuit of scientific excellence and deliver impactful work that benefits humanity.”
By clearly differentiating the various species of coral-eating crown-of-thorns seastars, researchers will now be able to do more thorough studies into the dynamics of mass breakouts, one of the several stressors that influence tropical reefs, leading to improved management of reef ecosystems in the long run.
NOTES TO EDITOR
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