Abstract. Genetic adaptation is often assumed to be too slow to be relevant to the pace of current environmental changes, however, experiments have revealed that corals can respond adaptively to environmental stressors over ecological times scales of months to years. This thesis will estimate different types of acclimation and measure their potential role in the rapid enhancement of thermal tolerance. Acclimation to three levels of combined temperature and pCO2 (ambient, medium and high) will be assessed in different life stages of corals from data on fitness and physiological traits, microbial community composition, gene expression and patterns of gene body methylation.
Biography. Jose completed his BSc in Biotechnology Engineering with Honours in 2013 in Ecuador in collaboration with the University of Florida. His honours research focused on the potential hybridization of endemic tree species along the Ecuadorian Andes. Between 2014-2016, he completed his MSc in Marine Biology at James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). His research, under the supervision of Prof Madeleine van Oppen, Prof Bette Willis and Dr Karen Weynberg, focused on the development of alternative low-cost methods to target ssRNA viruses in corals, likely targeting their Symbiodinium (potential link to bleaching events). He began his PhD in March 2016 with AIMS and the Centre. His project aims to understand the potential for and mechanisms of acclimation of different life stages of coral to acclimatize to future environmental conditions. He is now supervised by Prof. Line Bay, Prof Madeleine van Oppen, Prof Phil Munday, Prof Nicole Webster and Prof Manuel Aranda (as part of a collaboration agreement with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology – Saudi Arabia).