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Award Abstract #1316055

Ocean Acidification: Understanding the Impact of CO2 and Temperature on the Physiological, Genetic, and Epigenetic Response of a Model Sea Anemone System with Different Symbionts

NSF Org: EF
Emerging Frontiers
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Initial Amendment Date: June 24, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: April 29, 2014
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Award Number: 1316055
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Irwin Forseth
EF Emerging Frontiers
BIO Direct For Biological Sciences
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Start Date: July 1, 2013
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End Date: June 30, 2017 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $781,543.00
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Investigator(s): Mark Warner mwarner@udel.edu (Principal Investigator)
Adam Marsh (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of Delaware
210 Hullihen Hall
Newark, DE 19716-2553 (302)831-2136
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NSF Program(s): Integrative Ecologi Physiology,
CRI-OA
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Program Reference Code(s): 1228, 1382, 8001, 9150, 9178, 9179, 9251
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Program Element Code(s): 7657, 8001

ABSTRACT

The projected rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is considered a primary threat to marine systems throughout the world due to both ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures. Coral reefs are very sensitive to these projected changes in the earth's climate, with continued losses in growth as well as disruption (also known as bleaching) in the symbiotic relationship between the algae (Symbiodinium) living within a diversity of host animals, including stony corals, soft corals and sea anemones. While much information has been gleaned as to how acidification may affect stony corals, considerably less is known about the interactive effects of acidification and temperature to other symbiotic anthozoans.

To this end, this proposal will investigate the long-term impacts of elevated CO2 and temperature on the model sea anemone, Aiptasia pallida, while harboring four different genotypes of Symbiodinium. The primary goals of this project are (1) to determine the sensitivity and capacity for acclimation in molecular and physiological processes while exposed to elevated CO2 and temperature, and (2) to assess the degree to which acclimated adult animals may confer (or transfer) an imprinted physiological characteristic to the next generation of asexual offspring. A series of long-term experiments will be conducted with each animal/algal combination (holobiont) in order to collect initial (3 month) stress markers and genomic data and then follow animal response and asexual reproduction through several generations for one year. The possibility for enhanced resilience or acclimation will be measured by tracking the recovery of each holobiont, followed by repeated exposure to elevated temperature while held in high CO2. This project will tease apart fine scale mechanisms of stress, acclimation, or amelioration that may vary as a function of algal genotype and host animal response, and the degree to which environmental imprinting may pre-acclimate propagules. Project results will provide information regarding how future acidification and warming will affect cnidarian-algal symbioses, and the fundamental profile of their flexibility in stress response processes across organismal, metabolic, genomic and epigenetic scales.

In addition to training one postdoctoral scholar and several graduate students, this project will enhance scientific discovery and participation of underrepresented groups through laboratory experiences offered to several undergraduates from different universities. Public outreach efforts will include a children's 'play'-educational exhibit, as well as several hands-on research demonstrations incorporating elements of sea anemone biology and symbioses which will be presented at the University of Delaware's annual "Coast Day" festival. Research efforts will also contribute to the further development of the NSF-EPSCoR infrastructure in the Delaware Biotechnology Center at the University of Delaware.


PUBLICATIONS PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THIS RESEARCH

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Leal, MC
Hoadley, K
Pettay, DT
Grajales, A
Calado, R
Warner, ME. "Symbiont type influences trophic plasticity of a model cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis.," Journal of Experimental Biology, v.218, 2015, p. 858. 

 

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