Presented by: Anthony Bertucci, ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies, JCU, Townsville
When: Thursday, 27th of November 2014; 16:00 to 17:00 hrs. Please note the change in time.
Where: Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room #106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville. Video-linked to the University of Queensland (GCI Boardroom, Level 7, Gehrmann Building 60.
Abstract: Corals form the trophic and structural foundation of coral reefs, one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on the planet. This success is the result of two major aspects of Scleractinian physiology: the symbiotic association with photosynthetic Dinoflagellates and the formation of an external skeleton made of calcium carbonate (biomineralisation). Despite the projected loss of coral reefs and the direct socio-economic consequences associated with this loss, our fundamental understanding of the Cnidarian-Dinoflagellate physiology that underlies the ecological success of reefs remains poor. A greater understanding of the cell biology of corals is essential if we are to fully understand the mechanisms by which they are impacted by stress and whether or how they might survive climate change and other environmental perturbations. The day-night cycle is a natural environmental variation during which corals undergo physiological changes, mainly due to the photosynthetic activity of the Dinoflagellates that provides high levels of oxygen and energy to the animal host. This supply of energy is particularly able to stimulate skeletal deposition, a phenomenon known as Light-Enhanced Calcification. By comparing gene expression between day and night in Acropora millepora, we confirm previous mechanisms of nutrient exchanges in symbiotic Cnidarians but also provide new insights on calcification regulation. Moreover, in other calcifying organisms such as molluscs, a better understanding of biomineralisation came from the ability to dissect the calcifying tissues from the rest of the organism. We were able to use a similar approach and separate the tissues responsible for symbiosis and calcification in the Fungid coral Heliofungia actiniformis. The assembly of a reference transcriptome and the study of gene expression in the different tissues already provide exciting preliminary results. This approach may represent a new molecular tool for comparative studies and a better comprehension of coral physiology.
Biography: Anthony is originally from Corsica (France) and obtained a Master degree in Ecology and Evolution in 2007 at the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis. During this period, he started to work on symbiotic cnidarians by studying the effects of global warming on the oxidative stress resistance of the only symbiotic Mediterranean gorgonian: Eunicella singularis. He then started a PhD at the Centre Scientifique de Monaco (2007-2010) during which he used molecular biology, physiology and pharmacology methods to better comprehend the inorganic carbon transport and utilization in reef-building corals. In 2011, he accepted a teaching assistant position in Nice. Anthony recently joined the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies as a SuperScience postdoctoral fellow for a 3-year period in the coral genomics group to study the differential expression of genes and physiological responses of corals to environmental parameters and global change.