Improving coral thermal tolerance through association with acclimatized Symbionts


Project Description

Corals have shown capable of coping with increasing temperatures; however strong inter-species and intra-species variation is evident. Different thermal tolerances between members of the same species have been attributed partially to the associated zooxanthellae. The Red Sea offers a unique environment to understand these associations as host and symbiont live in higher annual temperatures than counterparts elsewhere. Using the coral model organism Aiptasia pallida, a small anemone, we investigate whether Symbiodinium from anemones of the Red Sea can improve heat stress resilience of individuals from geographically distant locations. ​​
Program - Marine Science
Division - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Center Affiliation - Red Sea Research Center
Field of Study - ​Biological Sciences, Marine Sciences

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

 Bleaching and re-infecting anemones with different strains of Symbiodinium cultured in the labQuantification of phenotypic changes between host-symbiont combinations during and after heat stress exposure RNA extraction and gene expression analysis of interesting and informative biomarkers Perform further analysis on data obtained Write a (short) manuscript of these analyses​