Tubastraea coccinea (Dendrophylliia, Scheractinia) also known as sun-coral, is an azooxanthellate coral native to the Indo-Pacific. Since the 1940s it has massively extended its range to become invasive in the Atlantic Ocean. The sun-corals’ success in colonizing new habitats is due in large to opportunist characteristics, as wide range of reproductive strategies, and remarkable regenerative capacity. These characters give T. coccinea great potential as a model representative group of reef building corals for evolutionary developmental biology (“evo-devo”). One major focus of my research on T. coccinea is the investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying its invasive success. In addition, whilst T. coccinea is invasive in Brazil, this species and three other congenerics (T. micranthus, T. faulkneri and T. diaphana) occur naturally on the Great Barrier Reef. A second focus of work on Tubastraea species is the regeneration process, as the remarkable regenerative capacity of members of this genus is likely to contribute to its invasive potential. Moreover, understanding the molecular bases of regeneration in any coral is likely to have broad implications for Scleractinia corals in general, and particularly relevant in the present era of damage to and large-scale degradation of reefs globally.
Bruna is an oceanographer from Brazil and completed her Master in Ocean and Coast System at the Center for Marine Studies of the Federal University of Paraná. Currently is a PhD candidate from the same graduate program under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Marcelo Kitahara and David Miller. She has been undertaking an internship from Brazil’s Science without Bordes Program at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Rees Studies (2017-2018). Bruna’s research has focused on molecular and ecological aspects of scleractinian corals, and her thesis aims to add to the current knowledge on the Tubastraea genus, mainly regarding the molecular mechanisms that drive the development and regeneration process of T. coccinea.