Identifying the genetic drivers of thermal tolerance plasticity in the coral model Exaiptasia


Project Description

The objective of this project is to identify the genetic drivers of thermal tolerance plasticity in the coral model Exaiptasia pallida. To achieve this goal the organism will be subjected to thermal stress over a period of time, sampled at many time points, RNA extracted, sequenced and analyzed for gene regulatory networks. Outcomes of our research has multiple benefits. Our results will lead to (but not limited to) enrichment of knowledge base of coral community, identification of new candidate genes for further functional genomic studies and reconstruction of gene regulatory networks.  Recommended Student Academic & Research Background:Molecular biology with wet lab experience, undergraduate or postgraduate in biotechnology/biology/molecular biology ​ ​
Program - Marine Science
Division - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Center Affiliation - Red Sea Research Center
Field of Study - ​Marine Molecular Ecology ​

About the

Manuel Aranda

Associate Professor, Marine Science

Manuel Aranda
​Dr. Aranda's main research interests lie in the development of functional genetic tools for reef building corals and other cnidarian model organisms that will allow the systematic analysis of the molecular processes governing symbiosis and coral bleaching. The coral-algal symbiosis hereby serves as a model system to address questions regarding the molecular basis of symbiosis in order to extend our knowledge on the mechanisms and factors determining the nature of symbiotic relationships i.e. mutualistic, commensalistic or parasitic. Central part of this research is the elucidation of the function of key proteins involved in the initiation, maintenance and breakdown of the symbiotic relationship in both partners.

Desired Project Deliverables

The project is multi-disciplinary in nature and requires wet-lab (80%) [and | or] soft-skills (20%). Soft-skills though not mandatory can be learnt during the course of project upon his/her initiative. The deliverables for the project are: 1) Regular plan for growth and proliferation of sea anemones 2) Setting up time series experiment 3) Optimize existing protocols to maximize the yields of nucleic acid (RNA/DNA) 4) Basic data analysis of RNASeq data 5) Consolidated report at the end of internship The expectations from the intern are his/her experiences in: 1) Basic wet laboratory skills 2) Animal care procedures 3) Molecular biology techniques – RNA isolation, DNA isolation 4) Knowledge on basic UNIX and soft skills (added advantage) In general, the intern is expected to be pro-active with eagerness for broadening his interests and meet PI at least once in 2 weeks to discuss about the progress of the research.​