Coral reefs worldwide are under threats from human activities. Reduced water quality is one of the most pressing local threats to corals living in nearshore environments, especially in Hawaii. Some corals, however, thrive in such high-stress conditions, which suggest they may be adapted to the nearshore conditions. Using genetics, physiological assays, and molecular (proteomic) analysis, we investigated if and how corals surviving in the nearshore polluted areas have adapted to withstand sedimentation, pollutants, and other environmental stressors. The experimental results revealed that corals from higher-stress, nearshore habitats possessed greater resilience in the face of reduced water quality. These resilient individuals were also genetically different from coral colonies from nearby lower-stress offshore areas, suggesting that the nearshore corals are locally adapted to their environments. Our results provide insight into coral's adaptive potential and its underlying processes and reveal potential protein biomarkers that could be used to predict resiliency.
Speaker: Kaho Tisthammer, San Francisco State University
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