Unraveling the molecular basis of coral symbiosis and bleaching


Project Description

Coral-algae symbiosis is essential for the survival and growth of corals and for the functioning of coral reef ecosystems. However, this symbiosis can be disrupted by various environmental stressors, such as high temperature, pollution, or disease. When this happens, the corals lose their algae and turn white, a phenomenon known as coral bleaching. Bleached corals are more vulnerable to mortality and may not recover their symbionts if the stress persists. Understanding the interactions between coral hosts and their algal symbionts under different environmental conditions is crucial for developing conservation strategies. At KAUST, we study these interactions at different levels, from the molecular underpinnings to the ecological contexts. We seek motivated students who want to learn more about this symbiotic relationship. The students will be able to learn various techniques and skills related to coral biology, molecular biology, and bioinformatics.
Program - BioScience
Division - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Center Affiliation - Red Sea Research Center
Field of Study - Ecological Genomics

About the

Manuel Ignacio Aranda Lastra

Manuel Ignacio Aranda Lastra

Desired Project Deliverables

This interdisciplinary project comprises wet-lab work (80%) and soft skills (20%). Soft skills are not mandatory but can be acquired during the project through the intern's initiative. The project deliverables include: 1) Regular plan for growth and proliferation of sea anemones 2) Setting up experiments 3) Optimize existing protocols (nucleic acid extraction, HCR, FISH, etc.) 4) Basic data analysis (RNASeq, DNAseq,) 5) Consolidated report at the end of the internship The intern is expected to have experience in the following areas: 1) Basic wet laboratory skills 2) Animal care procedures 3) Molecular biology techniques such as RNA isolation and DNA isolation 4) Basic knowledge of UNIX and soft skills (considered advantageous) Overall, the intern should be proactive, eager to broaden their interests and meet with the principal investigator every two weeks to discuss research progress.