Presentation Title

Algae Beads: A New Option to Prevent Bleaching in Coral Reefs

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Robert Jinkerson

Start Date

23-11-2019 8:00 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 8:45 AM

Location

199

Session

poster 1

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

interdisciplinary

Abstract

Keywords: Coral, Algae, Global Warming, Bleaching, Feeding Response, Engineer, Aiptasia, Sodium Alginate, Preventative

Corals are animals that form a symbiotic relationship with algae from the genus Symbiodinium. Coral bleaching is the breakdown of the symbiotic relationship between coral and its algal symbiont. This loss of algae from coral can be caused by minor fluctuations in ocean temperatures and lead to coral death. Coral bleaching is becoming more frequent and a worldwide problem due to global warming. Loss of coral detrimentally impacts ocean ecosystems, tourism, and fishing industries. It is crucial to prevent future bleaching events and assist in the recovery of coral post-bleaching to prevent extinction of these organisms and destruction of coral reef ecosystems. My goal is to engineer a method to introduce beneficial mutant algae strains to coral hosts to replace the algae lost during a coral bleaching event. To achieve this goal we are developing a delivery system that encapsulates algae in an alginate gel bead that can be fed to the coral. Since the bead is not a natural food source, we hypothesized bead uptake rates could be improved if the bead could trigger the native animal food uptake response. By monitoring the feeding response of the sea anemone Aiptasia, a close relative to coral, I was able to establish a method to induce feeding motions via chemical stimulation from reduced glutathione and various forms of chitin. Decorating beads of encapsulated algae with these chemicals induced algae-free (bleached) Aiptasia to uptake the bead via a feeding response. Algae that were ingested were monitored with fluorescent microscopy. My results indicate that in the Aiptasia gut algae escape the ingested bead and can successfully repopulate a bleached anemone. This approach, which we are calling ‘Algae Beads’, is the first of a kind algal-delivery system for coral and has the potential to act as a recovery method for future coral bleaching events.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Nov 23rd, 8:00 AM Nov 23rd, 8:45 AM

Algae Beads: A New Option to Prevent Bleaching in Coral Reefs

199

Keywords: Coral, Algae, Global Warming, Bleaching, Feeding Response, Engineer, Aiptasia, Sodium Alginate, Preventative

Corals are animals that form a symbiotic relationship with algae from the genus Symbiodinium. Coral bleaching is the breakdown of the symbiotic relationship between coral and its algal symbiont. This loss of algae from coral can be caused by minor fluctuations in ocean temperatures and lead to coral death. Coral bleaching is becoming more frequent and a worldwide problem due to global warming. Loss of coral detrimentally impacts ocean ecosystems, tourism, and fishing industries. It is crucial to prevent future bleaching events and assist in the recovery of coral post-bleaching to prevent extinction of these organisms and destruction of coral reef ecosystems. My goal is to engineer a method to introduce beneficial mutant algae strains to coral hosts to replace the algae lost during a coral bleaching event. To achieve this goal we are developing a delivery system that encapsulates algae in an alginate gel bead that can be fed to the coral. Since the bead is not a natural food source, we hypothesized bead uptake rates could be improved if the bead could trigger the native animal food uptake response. By monitoring the feeding response of the sea anemone Aiptasia, a close relative to coral, I was able to establish a method to induce feeding motions via chemical stimulation from reduced glutathione and various forms of chitin. Decorating beads of encapsulated algae with these chemicals induced algae-free (bleached) Aiptasia to uptake the bead via a feeding response. Algae that were ingested were monitored with fluorescent microscopy. My results indicate that in the Aiptasia gut algae escape the ingested bead and can successfully repopulate a bleached anemone. This approach, which we are calling ‘Algae Beads’, is the first of a kind algal-delivery system for coral and has the potential to act as a recovery method for future coral bleaching events.