Abstract: Understanding the mechanisms used by reef-building corals adapt to local conditions that vary in space can help refine predictions about how they will adapt in time to the effects of global climate change. In the Florida Keys, inshore patch reefs that are subject to high nutrient loads and thermal extremes host diverse coral communities, often with better cover than the more benign offshore reef tract. A reciprocal transplant of the mustard hill coral,Porites astreoides, between inshore and offshore reefs resulted in elevated energetic stores (total protein and lipid) and growth rates in corals at their home reef site, consistent with local adaptation. Global gene expression profiling revealed that inshore-origin corals also exhibited higher gene expression plasticity when transplanted to a novel environment than offshore corals, which may signify an elevated capacity for acclimatization induced by the environmental variability they experience at their native reef site.
Biography: Carly is currently a Harrington Dissertation Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. She’s interested in understanding the physiological and genetic basis of adaptation, particularly in marine systems. Her research utilizes next-generation sequencing technologies to explore population level variation in thermal tolerance of corals in the Florida Keys, USA. She has also developed a suite of gene expression biomarkers that can be used as a tool for reef managers to rapidly assess stress in natural coral populations. She will obtain her PhD in integrative biology in August 2014.