Coral-Algal Symbiosis: An Integrative Study of the Establishment, Regulation, and Environmentally Induced Breakdown of the Partnership

EPA Grant Number: U915432
Title: Coral-Algal Symbiosis: An Integrative Study of the Establishment, Regulation, and Environmentally Induced Breakdown of the Partnership
Investigators: Schwarz, Jodi
Institution: Oregon State University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: September 1, 1998 through August 1, 2001
Project Amount: $101,097
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Zoology , Biology/Life Sciences , Academic Fellowships


The objective of this research project is to investigate how coral-algal symbiosis is initially established at the organismal level and how it is regulated at the molecular level. I will examine how the partners collaborate physically and how expression of one symbiosis-specific gene changes during onset of symbiosis and during periods of environmental stress.


To address questions about how a healthy symbiosis is established and regulated and how environmental perturbations result in a breakdown of the symbiosis, I am examining the problem at two levels: the organismal level and the molecular level. At the organismal level, I am examining the onset of symbiosis in host species who are initially nonsymbiotic to determine when and how these hosts acquire their first complement of symbionts from the environment. At different stages of development, larvae are introduced to zooxanthellae from different sources and rates of infection are determined. At the molecular level, I am examining the role of p30, a protein unique to the symbiotic condition and thought to be involved in cell-cell signaling between symbiont and host. Using RNA in situ hybridization techniques, I will determine when, and in which cells, the p30 gene begins to be expressed after the onset of symbiosis in larvae. Using immunocytochemical techniques, I will determine the location of p30 in tissues of adult hosts and larvae. Larvae will be examined at different stages of development to determine whether the location of this protein changes spatially throughout development. To determine the effects of environmental stress, adult hosts will be subjected to temperature conditions that result in either partial or total expulsion of symbionts (bleaching), and levels of p30 will be monitored using either Western or Northern blots.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, coral, symbiosis, molecular biology, coral-algal symbiosis, p30, zooxanthellae, immunocytochemical, organismal., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Genetics, Restoration, Aquatic Ecosystem, Microbiology, Environmental Microbiology, Molecular Biology/Genetics, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Biology, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, immunocytochemical techniques, coral-algal symbiosis, gene expression, symbiosis, zooxanthellae, immunochromatography, dinoflagellate Sybiodinium spp

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999
  • 2000
  • Final