Seminar: Challenges of coral cryopreservation in a changing climate

May 09 2019 03:00 PM - May 09 2019 04:00 PM

Challenges of coral cryopreservation in a changing climate
  • Dr. Jessica Bouwmeester
  • Thursday, May 09, 2019
  • 03:00 PM - 04:00 PM
  • Auditorium between Bldg 2&3 - Level 0 - Room 0215

Abstract: Coral reefs around the globe are undergoing profound changes due to climate change and specifically the warming of our oceans. Warming stresses the corals, producing bleaching events that have affected all tropical coral reef ecosystems. Bleaching has resulted in an estimated 50% loss of coral worldwide. With this loss of extensive reef systems, coral diversity is threatened on a global scale, with some species already regionally extinct. Cryopreservation of coral gametes, larvae, and symbiotic dinoflagellates (family Symbiodiniaceae) has been successful in recent years and allows for the long-term storage of living material for later use. However, gametes and symbionts from corals that were previously exposed to bleaching are more challenging to cryopreserve. In 2014 and 2015, corals in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, were exposed to two consecutive bleaching events. Since then and up until today, the gamete quality has dropped, and the symbionts have changed, which is affecting our ability to cryopreserve them. She will discuss some of the physiological changes that occurred in both the gametes and the symbionts, and how we overcame some of the cryopreservation challenges. Indeed, with the increase in frequency of global bleaching events, cryopreservation efforts and methodologies must adapt to the dynamic physiological changes of the coral hosts and their symbiotic dinoflagellates in order to remain effective.

Bio: Dr. Jessica Bouwmeester obtained her MSc in Biology from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and her Ph.D. from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, in 2013. She then held several postdoc positions in KAUST, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Qatar University, and the Smithsonian Institution. She is currently a recipient of the Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellowship, for which she moved to Hawaii to study physiology, cryobiology and reproductive challenges of corals with Dr. Mary Hagedorn.