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Making a choice for life – Cellular and molecular basis of coral larvae settlement and metamorphosis.


Corals form the basis for some of the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet. Yet these unique ecosystems have suffered tremendous harm due to anthropogenic influences and are predicted to be among the most adversely affected habitats under the foreseen changes in climate. Among these changing conditions are the occurrence and composition of microorganisms in the coral’s habitat, which are affected by changes in temperature and pH. Corals associate with several specific microorganisms, that govern central aspects of their complex lifecycle, such as the recruitment of larvae, a process that ensures health and resilience of coral reefs.
While the central role of biofilms is established in tropical coral species, the vast deep-sea cold-water coral species are less well studied. Lophelia Pertusa is a framework-forming cold-water coral with a global distribution and important ecosystem function -however whether larval recruitment depends on biofilm abundance and composition is unknown. It is therefore urgently required to study this fundamental process in cold-water species to assess and mitigate environmental threats to this unique ecosystem.
The proposed study will pioneer investigations into the mechanistic basis of cellular and molecular signal recognition in cold-water coral larvae, taking advantage of the specialized settlement behavior and recent advances in sequencing technology. Here, I will use an interdisciplinary approach, at the border of bacterial recognition, development and sensory biology. I will combine the power of single cell patch clamp electrophysiology, behavioral- and molecular analysis to address central questions about sensory biology in cold-water corals and thereby, the project will produce fundamental knowledge about coral habitat selection that are urgently required to understand which impact environmental changes have on this central process.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 500 000,00
7491 Trondheim

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Norge Trøndelag Trøndelag
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 500 000,00

Beneficiaries (1)