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Symbiosis in the Sea

The science of symbiosis is an intriguing and dynamic field...

...from corals to fig wasps to the human gut microbiome, it seems that symbiotic partnerships are widespread and vitally important to life on Earth. I became interested in coral symbiosis when I realized that it is the coral-algal mutualism that forms records of environmental change within the coral skeleton.​


Studying the coral symbiosis, namely, how each partner obtains, assimilates, and exchanges nutrients from the environment is key to understanding their potential as biological recorders.

After embarking on this research theme with a humble goal of informing my pollution research, I now understand that the character of the symbiosis varies greatly across coral species, and among different symbiont types. Within this variation are clues to the evolutionary mechanisms underlying the biodiversity of coral symbioses.

Relevant Works

1. DM Baker, L Weigt, M Fogel, N Knowlton (2013) Ancient DNA from coral-hosted Symbiodinium reveal a static mutualism over the last 172 years. PLoS ONE 8(2): e55057. DOI 10.1371.journal.pone.0055057

2. CJ Freeman, RW Thacker, DM Baker, ML Fogel (2013) Quality or quantity: Is nutrient transfer driven more by symbiont identity and productivity than by symbiont abundance? ISME J

3. DM Baker, JP Andras, AG Jordán-Garza, ML Fogel (2013) Nitrate competition varies with temperature among Symbiodinium clades. ISME J


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