Abstract. Over the last century, the anthropogenic production of CO2 has led to warmer and more acidic oceans, resulting in increasingly frequent and severe mass bleaching events worldwide. Unless corals adapt or acclimate to these unprecedentedly fast changes, further loss of coral cover and diversity seems inevitable over the coming decades. However, the mechanisms and rates by which corals can acclimatize and adapt to environmental changes are still poorly understood. Work on model systems has shown that environmentally induced alterations in DNA methylation can lead to phenotypic acclimatization. While DNA methylation has been observed in corals, its potential role in phenotypic plasticity and acclimation has not yet been described. Here, I provide an overview of our current knowledge on DNA methylation in corals and discuss its potential as an epigenetic mechanism for regulating phenotypic acclimation and transgenerational plasticity.
Biography. Dr. Manuel Aranda received his PhD from the University of Cologne in 2006 where he studied the evolution of gene regulatory networks with the group of Prof. Diethard Tautz. During his subsequent postdoc he started working on coral ecology using genomic and functional genetic approaches. He is Assistant Professor at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology where his group studies the molecular underpinnings of the cnidarian-algal symbiosis and its environmental stress related breakdown using functional genomics approaches. Furthermore, he is interested in understanding the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms through which corals can adapt or acclimate to extreme environments and climate change.