My research on model organisms, such as yeast and fruit flies, has focused on using genomic tools and advanced imaging to study cell growth. Recently, my lab broadened our research to include the application of these tools for addressing aquatic symbiosis questions. For this award, I will leverage advanced genomic tools and synthetic biology methods to study the mechanisms of endosymbiosis and the evolution of endosymbiosis. I will work with soft corals and hydra, focusing on sequencing, gene manipulation, and more advanced synthetic biology tools to create model cell lines for studying symbiosis.
My colleagues and I at the Carnegie Institution initiated research toward understanding the mechanism of algae-animal endosymbiosis in various cnidarian species about two and half years ago. After working with multiple cnidarian species, we found a few that grow rapidly in our laboratory aquaria and thus are suitable to be used as model organisms to study endosymbiosis. By applying advanced molecular tools to some of these models, we are identifying the cell type(s) engaging in endosymbiosis and the genes required for this poorly understood biological process that is important in both evolution and ecology.
Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems