2. Moorea
  3. Pocillopora
  4. Montipora Spat
  5. Moorea Reef
  6. Title 7
  7. Title 8
  8. Title 10
  9. Title 12
  10. Title 13
  11. Title 14
  12. Title 15
  13. Title 16
  14. Title 19
  15. Title 22
  16. Title 23
  17. Title 24
  18. Title 25
  19. Title 26
Elucidating adaptive potential through coral holobiont functional integration
  NSF 1756623 - Co-PIs Debashish Bhattacharya, Arik Harel
The remarkable success of coral reefs is explained by interactions of the coral animal with its symbiotic microbiome that is comprised of photosynthetic algae and bacteria. This total organism, or "holobiont", enables high ecosystem biodiversity and productivity in coral reefs. These ecosystems are, however, under threat from a rapidly changing environment. This project aims to integrate information from the cellular to organismal level to identify key mechanisms of adaptation and acclimatization to environmental stress. Specific areas to be investigated include the role of symbionts and of epigenetics (molecular "marks" on coral DNA that regulate gene expression).  This project addresses how relatively stress resistant and stress sensitive corals react to the environmental perturbations of increased temperature and reduced pH. It utilizes transcriptomic, epigenetic, and microbial profiling approaches, to elucidate how corals respond to environmental challenges. In addition to this profiling, work by the BSF Israeli partner will implement powerful analytical techniques such as network theory to detect key transcriptional hubs in meta-organisms and quantify biological integration. This work will generate a stress gene inventory for two ecologically important coral species and a (epi)genome and microbiome level of understanding of how they respond to the physical environment. 
Beneficial acclimatization occurs when the environmental signals experienced by the organism modulate their future performance. The capacity for acclimatization in environmentally sensitive organisms, such as reef-building corals, may provide the temporal buffer to increase ecological persistence in a rapidly changing environment. Despite the mounting evidence for beneficial acclimatization, studies of the mechanistic underpinnings (e.g., DNA methylation) are still in their relative infancy, especially in marine invertebrates, like corals.

Predicting phenotypic and eco-evolutionary consequences
of environmental-energetic-epigenetic linkages

 NSF 1921465 - Co-PIs Eirin-Lopez, Roberts, Moeller, Nisbet, Cunning
Living organisms may acclimate to environmental changes through epigenetic modifications to DNA, which alter the way genetic instructions are interpreted without altering the DNA code itself. While these modifications to organismal phenotype or function can be reversible, some of them may be inherited by offspring, potentially producing multiple, heritable outcomes from a single genome and affecting ecological and evolutionary outcomes. This project uses symbiotic, metabolically complex reef building corals as a model system to test the connections between physiological, epigenetic, and metabolic states, and predict how population and community dynamics are influenced by epigenetically-modulated phenotypes.

Development of Environmental Conditioning Practices to Decrease Impacts of Climate Change on Shellfish Aquaculture
FFAR Funded - Co-PIs Roberts, Vadopalas, Davis, Jamestown S'Klallam
Marine calcificers are under stress from changing carbonate chemistry in the seawater due to ocean acidification. This is a pressing problems in the shellfish industry, as larval and juvenile shellfish are often extremely sensitive to pH changes causing shell formation and deveopmental issues. To assess the longer term effects and mechanistic underpinnings of biologial response to ocean acidification in an important marine calicifier, I am working with Steven Roberts  and Brent Vadopalas at UW and the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe to examine geoduck response to OA in a series of experiments.  We are examining organismal performance, as well as DNA methylation and gene expression to determine the link between conditioning, phenotype, and methylation.
Foundation Funded - Co-PIs Goodbody-Gringley and de Putron
The proposed research involves the combination of in situ and aquaria (mesocosm) based experiments in conjunction with state-of-the-art molecular techniques. Specific research questions include:
a)  Is the documented phenotypic variation in coral larvae among different physiographic reef zones in Bermuda related to genetics and/or epigenetics (e.g. DNA methylation patterns)? 
b)  If adult corals are transplanted among these physiographic reef zones in Bermuda, do we see a change in their larval phenotype, genotype and physiological response? 
c)  What are the mechanisms of acclimatization of various life stages of corals (adults, larvae, juveniles) reared under mesocosm experiments mimicking a variety of future climate change scenarios (e.g. temperature, ocean acidification)?  Is there memory that retains a positive response to stress even after a period in normal conditions? What are the windows of sensitivity that elicit positive acclimatization? 
NSF 1939795​ - Co-PIs Klein, Cowen, Lewinski, Yang
Corals are important natural resources that are key to the ocean's vast biodiversity and provide economic, cultural, and scientific benefits. As a result of human activities, locally and globally, coral reefs are declining rapidly. The complexity of corals makes conserving and restoring reefs very challenging. Corals are made up of thousands of different organisms, including the animal host and the algae, bacteria, viruses, and fungi that coexist as a so-called holobiont. Thus, corals are more like cities than individual animals, as they provide factories, housing, restaurants, nurseries, and more for an entire ecosystem. This project brings together experts in computer science, materials science, and biology to harness the data revolution in biology with machine learning to study how corals grow and function, when viewed as if they were manufacturing sites in the ocean. The study will focus on three key coral capabilities: (1) they create calcium carbonate skeletons that provide 3D structures for diverse sea life to live in, (2) they can heal damage to their tissues, and, (3) they live with the other organisms in a process referred to as symbiosis. The idea of the "synthetic coral" is not to mimic or replace natural corals with a human-designed version, but rather to enable tests of functionality.  Our “synthetic coral”, model system is an integrated computational and experimental validation system, which will improve our udnerstanding of basic coral biology. 
FACE PUF - Co-PIs Laetitia Hedouin, Ruth Gates
MOPGA - Putnam
Global changes are threatening the survival of coral reefs worldwide and the question is whether corals will be able to survive to the changes occurring in the marine environment in the 21st century. Persistence of coral communities will not only depend of the intensity and frequency of environmental perturbations, but also on how energy resources of corals will be allocated among functional demands (survival, reproduction and growth) in response to stress. Sexual reproduction is a key process that allows for enhanced genetic diversity, renewal and persistence of coral populations, but in a changing world where corals are threatened by increasing pressures from the physical environment, the question is how coral reproduction may cope with physical factors associated with climate change. Interestingly, certain corals are able to live in drastic environmental conditions of pH or temperature suggesting that some corals possess more efficient mechanisms to face global changes. However it is currently unknown how stress may affect their reproduction and the released larvae and gametes. The research on coral reproduction will be focused on two topics: 1) understanding how stress affect coral reproduction and maternal transfer and 2) identification of epigenetic markers associated with intra- and trans-generational inheritance.
BSF 2016321 - Co-PI Dr. Tali Mass
In Honor of Dr. Diane Adams
Although biomineralization in corals has been studied for decades, we cannot yet determine the vulnerability of corals to future scenarios, as the basic mechanism and proteins responsible for the precipitation of the aragonite skeleton remain enigmatic. Recent proteomic analysis has identified a group of coral acid-rich proteins (CARPs) within the protein assemblage that creates a framework for the precipitation of aragonite. To address the questions of how the animal catalyzes the precipitation of biomineral, and the role of individual proteins in the biomineralization reaction in vivo, we propose to study the biological function of the different CARPs in early life stages of diverse corals from sub-tropic, tropic and temperate climates in current and projected ocean acidification conditions. Early stages of biomineralization may be the most susceptible to environmental perturbations. Failure of young corals to biomineralize would compromise recovery from disturbance, dispersal, and sexual reproduction – all with disastrous implications for population dynamics and genetic diversity. The proposed pioneering research aims to test the core hypothesis that stony, symbiotic corals will continue to calcify at projected ocean pH values for 2100. We combine research in coral proteomics and biomineralization, and in larval ecology and developmental biology to lay the foundation for predicting the vulnerability of coral ecosystem diversity and function in the coming decades through unprecedented mechanistic insight. This work will establish new tools and techniques for corals that can transform the researchers’ and community’s mechanistic work in understanding coral physiology, symbiosis, and biomineralization.​​
Understanding Symbiodinium diversity, biogeography, and holobiont function
Reef-building corals have formed an intimate symbiosis with single-celled endosymbiotic dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium. Here, Symbiodinium photosynthesize and translocate carbon products to the host (e.g., glucose, glycerol, and lipids), along with organic building blocks (amino acids). The cnidarian host, in turn, provides the Symbiodinium nutrients (NH4+, PO4-), metabolic carbon dioxide (CO2) and a physical habitat. There is strong evidence that the differences in Symbiodinium types result in functional differences in coral holobiont performance. Due to these physiological differences, it is posited that symbiotic organisms provide the potential for corals to resist environmental stress. In light of this, it is necessary to assess the diversity and function of Symbiodinium across a wide range of coral-Symbiodinium interactions to determine the potential for changes in symbiont communities to modulate the effects of a changing climate.  We are assessing Symbiodinium diversity across a wide range of species and environments using Next Generation Sequencing approaches.
Reponse to Environmental Fluctuations
An organism’s response to the physical environment is determined by its immediate abiotic surroundings, which can have significant spatio-temporal variability. Nonetheless, corals respond in an extremely flexible manner revealing that they are able to acclimatize to thermally heterogeneous environments. The goal of this work is to test the effects of enviornmental fluctuations on organism performance. Our results suggest that reef corals can acclimatize to a variable thermal environment, but also demonstrates that extreme temperature ranges, or prolonged exposure to thermal fluctuations, will result in negative physiological responses. However, these responses may be tempered by plasticity in both the coral host and algal symbiont