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Coral Holobiont Members Will Respond Differently to Climate Change

May 5, 2017 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Polycom will be available at the Darling Marine Center.

The School of Biology and Ecology and The School of Marine Sciences present

Dr. Mónica Medina
Pennsylvania State University

“Coral Holobiont Members Will Respond Differently to Climate Change”

Coral holobiont members – which include the coral host, the algal symbiont and a poorly characterized consortium of diverse microbial taxa – have different generation times and effective population sizes. These differences can have pronounced evolutionary and ecological consequences for holobiont members, especially under a rapidly changing climate. Corals tend to have slow generation times relative to their microbes, on the order of decades. Algal symbionts with different physiological adaptations to light and temperature are known to shift in abundance within a host in response to perturbations (e.g., increasing SST) over months to years. Coral-associated prokaryotic microbial assemblages not only have very fast generation times, but their community composition can shift rapidly under changing environmental conditions.
Metabolic complementary analysis has revealed a keystone role for the coral microbiome in holobiont homeostasis. We have performed reciprocal transplant experiments and temperature stress time series on the Caribbean corals in the Orbicella species complex, and used photobiology to examine coral fitness. These studies have uncovered differential mortality linked to locally adapted host/algal genotypes. In these experiments, metagenomic and microbial diversity analysis have also revealed a significant response of the microbiome to perturbation.
We have only scratched the surface of complex holobiont dynamics, yet these studies highlight the need for additional data and a comprehensive theoretical framework that integrates ecological and evolutionary time scales.

Host: Susan Brawley


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