Title: Biochemical Energy Balance of the Coral Symbiosis
Supervisors: Professor Peter Ralph and Associate Professor Barbara Stuart
PhD conferred: 2017
Scleractinian corals form a symbiotic relationship by harbouring single celled algae (known as zooxanthellae) within their gastrodermal cell layer. These algae provide the animal host with energy from the products of photosynthesis and the animal provides the algae with a place to live and essential nutrients.
The relationship is highly sensitive to environmental factors, with temperatures as small as 1-2°C above summer averages leading to coral bleaching events, where zooxanthellae are expelled from the host. These events are occurring more frequently, over a more widespread area and are becoming more intense due to the elevation of ocean temperatures in response to climate change.
1. Develop methods in Analytical Chemistry to study corals at a microstructural level including infrared spectroscopy and chromatography.
2. Using these techniques, measure exchange of macromolecules (lipid, carbohydrate and protein), elements (C, N, P) and energetic intermediates (ATP, NADPH) between the host tissue and zooxanthellae.