The double edged role of Nitric Oxide and Hydrogen Peroxide in a coral symbiosis

In my new project at the University of Copenhagen, I will be working as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow and study underlying physiological mechanisms of a coral bleaching response. Global climate changes affect coral reefs worldwide and these valuable marine biodiversity hotspots are increasingly experiencing a symbiotic dysfunction known as coral bleaching, where the global bleaching events in 2016 were the most significant to date. One of the main focusses of this project is to understand the underlying physiological mechanisms inducing the bleaching responses. It is known that cellular oxidative stress and reactive species such as nitric oxide (NO) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) are involved, but the sources and sinks of these compounds, their interplay and spatio-temporal dynamics have not been investigated in corals, partly due to lack of suitable experimental tools. The DENOCS projects will apply a suite of novel quantitative assessment techniques to investigate the dynamics and impact sites of NO and H2O2 in intact corals, coral tissue culture, and isolated photosymbionts when subjected to experimental treatments mimicking global change-induced environmental stress scenarios. Prospective outcomes of DENOCS include a better understanding of oxidative and nitrosative stress responses in corals, quantification of threshold concentrations and impact sites of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, and how these are involved in the coral bleaching response.

Project activities, updates and news can be found here:

Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven, Germany (June, Sept. 2018, Jan 2019)

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