title. Clash of the Dinoflagellates! Nitrogen Competition Among Coral- hosted Symbionts
description. Tight cycling of resources between coral host and Symbiodinium has facilitated success of the symbiosis in oligotrophic oceans. While the coral-algal association is often highly specific, successions of Symbiodinium were observed in many horizontally transmitted corals through juvenile to adult stages, and seasonal variation of symbiont communities were also observed for some adult corals. I am interested in the nutrient uptake and assimilation of Symbiodinium, especially between different strains and under different environmental conditions. I hypothesized ecological competition playing a role in shaping Symbiodinium community structure in hospite, and the dominant algae exclude others by their superior ability to acquire nutrients. With the use of dual stable isotope labeling (δ13C and δ15N), I compared nitrate uptake kinetics and carbon fixing abilities between different Symbiodinium strains to evaluate their strategies and/or trade-offs in acquiring the resources for maintenance and growth.
publications. SE McIlroy, JCY Wong*, DM Baker (2020) Competitive traits of coral symbionts may alter the structure and function of the microbiome. The ISME Journal, 1-9; JCY Wong*, E Susana, DM Baker (accepted) Towards a trait-based understanding of Symbiodiniaceae nutrient acquisition strategies. Coral Reefs; T Röthig, G Puntin, JCY Wong*, W McLeod, DM Baker (in review) Holobiont interplay regulates nutrient dynamics in the photosymbiotic Cassiopea xamachana. Microbiome.
There is a lot of culturing and animal husbandry for my project, which include keeping different strains of Symbiodinium for characterizing individuals and methods development, as well as intact symbiotic systems to look at host-symbiont relationship.
1) batch & continuous culturing
2) novel culturing technique: the FiberCell hollow-fiber bioreactor
3) cassiopea system
4) Galaxea fascicularis
Cassiopea Fun Club 2018
The Baker Lab studies how humans impact the ecology and evolution of the oceans, particularly coral reef ecosystems which are currently undergoing a perilous decline. By improving our understanding of how corals function and how they have evolved over time, the goal is to foster their conservation for future generations.