Abstract: Scleractinian corals are among the most diverse holobionts ever studied. Host to a high diversity and abundance of microbial symbionts, their success in colonizing the vast majority of shallow tropical oceans is often credited to their prokaryotic and endosymbiotic algal partners. However, their ocean environment is changing at an unprecedented rate due to global and local anthropogenic stressors. When environmental alterations occur, corals may rely on their microbial partners to help build stress tolerance. While it is well known that microbes play a crucial role in coral health, their contribution to acclimatisation within and across generations is not well understood. This project will examine changes in microbial community composition and function over natural seasonal temperature cycles as well as when exposed to projected future climate conditions in the laboratory. It will also investigate the effects of parental exposure to future climate conditions on the microbial communities found in their offspring. Identifying the circumstances in which microbial community composition and function change, and whether parental exposure affects the microbial composition found in the next generation is crucial to gaining a more complete view on how the coral holobiont will react to a rapidly changing ocean environment.
Bio: I am a PhD student working under Madeleine van Oppen, Philip Munday, Gergely Torda and Neal Cantin. Originally from the United States, my background was in marine science and ecotoxicology. After working in a comparative genomics lab following my studies, I discovered my passion for molecular work and answering ecological questions using molecular tools. For my PhD, I am interested in exploring stress tolerance in corals from a microbial perspective.