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Macromolecular mapping of coral symbionts under bleaching stress conditions

Project Member(s): Petrou, K., Ralph, P., Nielsen, D.

Funding or Partner Organisation: Australian Synchrotron Research Program (Australian Synchrotron Beamline)

Start year: 2015

Summary: The aim of this study is to determine the elemental and macromolecular differences between coral algal symbionts that have been expelled and those that are in hospite under bleaching stress. At the Australian Synchrotron, we will use 3D micro X-ray fluorescence tomography to map the elemental composition in Symbiodinium in hospite from stressed and non-stressed corals, as well as freshly expelled cells. The expectation is that there will be depletion in trace elements within the stressed cells compared with non-stressed cells and equally, there will be detectable differences between stressed cells that have been expelled compared with those in hospite. The cells will be measured in combination with FTIR IR microspectrometry to compliment the XMF data and map the distribution and abundance of macromolecules in the host and the symbiont. The expectation here is that stressed cells will show a reduction in proteins, due to chlorophyll degradation and cellular breakdown in the symbiont and possibly host tissue.

FOR Codes: Plant Physiology, Climate Change Processes, Structural Chemistry and Spectroscopy, Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change, Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences, Plant physiology , Structure and dynamics of materials