The University of Melbourne
UNIMELB_GEISSLER-Laura_VYT-LOCAL-2023.mp4 (107.35 MB)


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posted on 2023-06-18, 10:54 authored by Laura GeißlerLaura Geißler

Welcome to my Visualise Your Thesis 2023 Submission!  

In my video I show how I want to tackle the discovery of novel probiotic microbes for reef restoration from within coral organisms. Specifically, I will be looking at the symbiosome. This is a structure inside coral cells in which their symbiotic partner algae (part of what gives them their colours!) live. 

I want to see if there are bacteria in the symbiosome and, if yes, what functions they bring to the symbiosis between all partners.


Our coral reefs are increasingly threatened by ocean warming. This can lead to coral bleaching, where the algae that live inside the corals’ cells and provide it with essential nutrients exit the coral’s tissue and leave the coral to starve. However, this symbiosis is also held together by other microbes, like bacteria that live on and inside the coral. So, to help the corals, I want to find out who these bacteria are – and where exactly they live. You can imagine coral cells like a Russian doll. Every layer can potentially harbor the bacteria we’re looking for – we know there are some inside the algae! 

Each alga is enveloped by a membrane within the coral cell. We call this the symbiosome – the interaction space between coral and algae. 

I want to isolate the symbiosome and find out if there are bacteria there that facilitate the symbiosis. Using modern genome sequencing methods, I will find out how many there are and what their function is. In the future, this will help us isolate the ones that are beneficial so we can add them to struggling corals to make them more heat resistant and preserve the beauty of our reefs.


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