People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image

Stress transcriptomics: understanding the genetic basis of summer mortality in abalone


Thursday, May 18th 16:00 to 17:00 hrs

Building 19, Room 106, JCU Townsville Campus
Jan Strugnell
Jan Strugnell

Abstract. Mass mortality of several mollusc species occurs regularly in the summer months in natural and cultured environments worldwide.  Termed ‘summer mortality,’ this condition is known to impact a range of species including Pacific oysters, scallops and abalone.  Mortality due to the disease can be catastrophic with deaths of up to 80% of a population reported. Summer mortality does not appear to have a simple cause, but rather results from complex interactions between the species, opportunistic pathogens and environmental stress, particularly elevated water temperatures. It is expected that rising ocean temperatures due to global climate change will lead to an increase in incidence of the disease. Fortunately, genetic resilience to summer mortality has been demonstrated among individuals in some mollusc species. In order to understand the defining signatures and functional mechanisms involved in summer mortality survival, we analysed the gene expression profiles of greenlip abalone (Haliotis laevigata) determined to be susceptible and resilient to a summer mortality event both prior to and throughout a temperature spike. Significantly differentially expressed genes were detected between susceptible and resilient abalone both during the trial and remarkably six months prior to the heat stress event.  The genetic mechanisms that abalone use to combat summer mortality will be presented along with data investigating the relationship to abalone movement, source location and feed type.

Biography. Jan completed her BSc (Hons) at JCU in 1999 before obtaining her DPhil at Oxford University, UK in 2005. During her DPhil she used molecular and fossil evidence to investigate phylogenetic relationships and divergence times within cephalopods (octopus, squids and cuttlefish). Jan then worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Queen’s University, Belfast, the British Antarctic Survey and Cambridge University UK, where she investigated evolutionary relationships within and between Antarctic and deep-sea octopods. She reported the first dated molecular evidence that deep-sea fauna from other ocean basins originated from Southern Ocean taxa. Jan returned to the Department of Marine Biology and Aquaculture at JCU in 2016. Her current projects include ARC funded research where she employs genomic and proteomic techniques to address a diverse range of questions about the evolution of marine species. Currently her laboratory group is investigating population differentiation, recruitment and adaptation in a range of commercially important lobster species. They also work on marine species that are shifting range in response to climate change and are investigating the genetic basis for resilience and susceptibility to temperature stress in abalone.


Australian Research Council Pandora

Partner Research Institutions

Partner Partner Partner Partner
Coral Reef Studies