Global climate change is an issue of significant concern for marine ecosystems. Green house gas emissions are driving increases in global mean surface temperature resulting in a higher frequency of dangerous coral mass bleaching events. Additionally, CO2 emissions are being taken up by ocean waters and changing the oceans’ buffering capacity and seawater chemistry, resulting in decreased pH (i.e., Ocean Acidification). While we know these environmental shifts are contributing to declines in coral growth and abundance, it is not fully understood how these factors, and their interaction, will affect the biology of corals in terms of cellular processes, physiology, and population dynamics.
By taking an 'Omics approach or looking at coral response at scales from ecological to cellular, we will better be able to determine the extent to which corals will be able to adapt and acclimatize to these stressful conditions.
We study coral response to environmental change using a variety of approaches including:
Sogin EM, Anderson P, Williams P, Chen C-S, Gates RD (2014) Application of 1H-NMR Metabolomic Profiling for Reef-Building Corals. PLoS ONE 9(10): e111274. OPEN ACCESS: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111274
Sogin EM, Putnam HM, Anderson PE, RD Gates (2016) Metabolomic signatures of increases in temperature and ocean acidification from the reef-building coral, Pocillopora damicornis. Metabolomics 12: 1-12.
2) Gene Expression and Transcriptomics
Putnam HM, Mayfield AB, Fan TY, Chen CS, and Gates RD (2013) The physiological and molecular responses of larvae from the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis exposed to near-future increases in temperature and pCO2. Marine Biology 160: 2157-2173.
Putnam, H. M., & Gates, R. D. (2015). Preconditioning in the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis and the potential for trans-generational acclimatization in coral larvae under future climate change conditions. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 218(15), 2365-2372.
Putnam HM, Davidson J, and Gates RD. Ocean acidification influences DNA methylation and phenotypic plasticity in environmentally susceptible corals. In Review