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Past Projects

Please contact me for information or collaboration.

An Exaiptasia polyp.

From parasitism to mutualism: symbiosis interaction states and the adaptability of reef corals to climate change

     Prof Simon Davy, Victoria University of Wellington

     Prof Arthur Grossman, Carnegie Institution of Science

     Prof Virginia Weis, Oregon State University

     Dr Lucy Gorman

     Dr Bobby Lust

Coral reefs are in rapid decline, in part because warming causes corals to lose their symbiotic algae (bleaching). This provides an opportunity for infection by more thermally resistant, but less beneficial ('parasitic') algal types. However the long-term consequences of this parasitism might not be negative, as host selection can cause some parasites to become more mutualistic over time. We characterised the cellular mechanisms that regulate the proliferation of mutualistic versus parasitic algae through the host's tissues and tested the competitiveness of these different algal types under a range of predicted global warming scenarios to establish whether host fitness improves over time in those symbioses that initially tend towards parasitism. 

Funded by the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

Marsden Fund
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