Physiological and proteogenomic traits
After establishing with heat stress experiments that some coral colonies of Acropora digitifera within our study population have relatively higher heat tolerance, we are looking for physiological traits correlated with this increased tolerance. To do this, we are comparing samples collected from the most and least heat tolerant colonies at different times of the year and during a moderate thermal anomaly in October 2020.
We are studying various physiological variables in the most and least tolerant colonies such as:
Total proteins and lipids
Protein carbonyls and biomass
Fatty acids and alcohols compositions
Pigment content and total antioxidant capacity
We are also characterising the symbiont and microbiome community of these same coral colonies for each sampling time. Additionally, we are implementing modern high throughput research technologies, e.g., proteomics, to identify proteins, molecular processes and pathways associated with the heat stress response.
With this integrated multi-disciplinary approach, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved in the coral heat stress response. This knowledge is crucial to assist adaptation of corals, for example by allowing more informed selection of colonies for selective breeding; and potentially development of biomarkers, enabling quicker, cheaper and less invasive population scale screening.