Dr. Katie Barott, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
Symbiosis with microorganisms plays an essential role in the health and physiology of reef-building corals. However, the physiological function of these relationships is increasingly threatened by environmental stressors such as climate change. My research investigates the cellular mechanisms controlling host-microbe interactions, as well as the physiological and ecological consequences of these dynamics. In this talk I will discuss examples of coral interactions with two of the major players within the coral symbiont community: 1) endosymbiotic dinoflagellate algae of the genus Symbiodinium, and 2) tissue and surface-associated Bacteria. Using a combination of live-cell microscopy, immunochemistry, and organismal physiology, I have identified a novel host-driven carbon concentrating mechanism that promotes Symbiodinium photosynthesis. Detailed mechanistic studies such as these can be applied to a variety of symbiotic marine organisms, and are an important step towards understanding how symbiosis affects host physiology. Furthermore, b integrating across biological scales and maintaining an environmental context, my work will help determine the capacity of corals and other symbiotic marine organisms to withstand and adapt to a changing marine environment.
Dr. Barott is an MB faculty candidate.