DETECTION OF MOLECULAR STRESS RESPONSE IN CORALS EXPERIENCING CHRONIC CONTACT WITH INVASIVE ALGAE MATS
Increasing human development and activity around tropical coastlines exposes coral reefs to a host of local stressors (overfishing, sedimentation, nutrification), which act synergistically to decrease coral cover, health, and recruitment, while encouraging the growth and proliferation of macroalgae. Contact with macroalgae has been shown to cause coral bleaching, disease, and reduced growth and fecundity through shading, abrasion, oxidative stress, allelopathic interactions and alteration of the coral microbiome. Few studies have investigated the stress response of corals in chronic contact with algae, and none have used molecular methods to do so. This study focuses on finger coral (Porites compressa) colonies in naturally occurring, chronic contact with the invasive red carrageenophyte alga, Kappaphycus alvarezii, on patch reefs in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. Shotgun proteome sequencing, targeted immunoblotting, and enzyme activity assays indicate that P. compressa corals experience oxidative stress and reduced metabolic health when in long term, chronic contact with invasive Kappaphycus sp. mats. This study demonstrates the use of molecular methods in identifying and characterizing stress in outwardly healthy corals, allowing for more proactive management of at-risk coral reef ecosystems, and lays the foundation for understanding mechanisms of acclimation and resilience to algae-induced stress. Comparison with the stress profiles of corals experimentally exposed to acute algal contact stress will provide further insight into ecologically relevant coral stress responses.
Sindorf, V. L., University of Hawaii, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Richmond, R. H., Kewalo Marine Lab, USA, email@example.com
Location: 313 B
Presentation is given by student: Yes