nicholas pohlman

Dr. Neil Blackstone
Department of Biological Sciences

Summary: The breakdown of a mutualism can have dire consequences for the host, the symbiont, or both. Coral bleaching is a popular term describing the loss of symbionts and/or chlorophyll in mutualisms of anthozoan hosts (both hexacorals and octocorals) and unicellular, photosynthetic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.). Coral bleaching has been extensively studied for decades at a variety of levels. While bleaching is generally viewed as a pre-eminent environmental issue, no clear consensus exists as to the level of action of integrating mechanisms of bleaching. One reason for a lack of consensus is a tendency among researchers to study important aspects of bleaching (e.g., symbiont photosynthesis, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species [ROS], adenylyl cylase signaling, reactive nitrogen species [RNS]), yet ultimately fail to integrate these aspects within an organismal context. Indeed, recognition that the colonial gastrovascular system integrates these and other features can lead to a more complete picture of coral bleaching. Read more...