Tracing the origins of stress in the symbionts of reef-building corals. (2003–2006)
Symbiotic dinoflagellates of corals are critical to the world s major tropical reef ecosystems. Recent work in our laboratories and others has revealed that these algae are sensitive to a wide array of stresses (including climate change) and hence may be the Achilles Heel of reef ecosystems. This project will identify the key genes and processes in these algae using expressed sequence tags and microarray technology. On this basis, the underlying molecular mechanisms of these stress responses and their genetic diversity will be studied in order to better understand the differential susceptibility of reef-building corals to bleaching.''