March 22 2012

10:00 LSB 2320

This seminar is sponsored by Division of Life Sciences

Monica Medina
UC Merced

Marine Microbial Symbioses: Insights from Coral Reef Systems


Coral reefs are charismatic ecosystems found in tropical and subtropical waters, and they harbor the largest biodiversity of any marine environment on Earth. At the center of these ecosystems lies a symbiotic partnership between a coral host and algal endosymbionts (Symbiodinium spp.), which together are responsible for the construction and maintenance of coral reef structures. Recent data suggest that prokaryotic microbes also contribute to coral physiology through nitrogen fixation, sulfur cycling, and antimicrobial activity. However, microbes have also been implicated in an expanding number of coral diseases suggesting that the coral microbiome is more complex and dynamic than previously anticipated. For the past several years my laboratory has been developing genomic tools in an attempt to unravel the molecular underpinnings of coral-microbiome interactions. We have examined host inter-kingdom communication from onset and breakdown of symbiosis not only with the algae but also with other microbial partners (i.e. the coral holobiont). These tools have enabled us to use comparative genomic approaches to understand coral systems where dynamic metagenomes allow composite organisms to develop and function in complex, variable environments. Our data suggest that the elaborate interactions among holobiont members directly affect developmental and physiological processes in the animal host as well as overall holobiont function. These observations can now be evaluated under the light of a rapidly changing environment to assess the ecological and evolutionary consequences of global climate change in coral reef ecosystems. I will discuss current findings, ongoing experiments, and future directions of our research.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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