Saturday, October 27, 2012

Studying the microbial associates of corals

As we explore the different reefs throughout Micronesia, my group is taking samples to learn more about the microbial associates of corals.  Corals, like all animals, associate with many different ‘types’ or ‘species’ of microorganisms.  Did you know that humans actually have 10 times more microbial than human cells in our body?!  We humans cannot live without our microbes, and we think that microbes are also very important for corals.   We hope that learning about the coral-associated microbes will help us understand more about the health of corals, and the conditions they need to stay healthy. 

In order to study coral-microbes, we utilize SCUBA to take small tissue samples from the corals.  We bring these samples back to the laboratory on the boat.  In the lab, we preserve the samples so that we can later examine the microbes using their DNA.  The DNA gives us information about the different species of microbes that reside with the coral.  The DNA can also provide clues about the roles or interactions that the microbes may be having with the coral. We are especially excited to learn about the microbes that reside on the Micronesian corals because these corals appear to be very healthy.  Studies of microbes on healthy corals will provide us with the background to better understand the role of microbes on sick, or unhealthy corals.


Anonymous,  October 28, 2012 at 6:46 AM  

Sounds like you and your team are doing grade A scientific research Amy, congratulations and good luck with the rest of your research!!

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