Project Title: An integrated view of seagrass response to changing light environments
Supervisors: Prof. Peter Ralph, Dr Mathieu Pernice and Dr Rudy Dolferus (CSIRO).
PhD conferred: 2017
In 2006, Orth declared a ‘Global crisis for seagrass ecosystems’. Seagrass meadows are regarded as one of the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet, declining at rates similar to neighbouring ecosystems such as mangroves and coral reefs. Unfortunately with seagrass meadows we only notice considerable damage after the ‘point of no return’. Eutrophication and non-point source toxins are ultimately some of the most chronic causes of seagrass decline at present, and with coastal development and climate change proceeding at alarming rates, unless intervention occurs, seagrass meadows will cease to exist in many areas of the world.
We must understand how this group of marine angiosperm plants are functioning at a molecular level in response to such stressors. The work from this project will focus on the marine keystone species Zostera muelleri, a native species to Australia. Through a mesocosm approach, I will be using molecular biology, photo-biology, transcriptomics and bioinformatics to provide an integrated view of seagrass response to changing light environments. Expertise from the CSIRO Agriculture flagship will significantly contribute to the success of the project.
- To identify how various stressors affect the abundance of seagrass area coverage.
- By integrating knowledge of plant physiology and photo-biology with molecular biology - I will be amongst some of the first researchers to combine such disciplines in order to understand the effects stressors have on seagrass health, in respect to genetic regulation and metabolism.