Dani will spend the next two months continuing investigations of her study corals' significant gene pathways and functions before beginning her new position as a Knauss Fellow with NOAA in Washington, DC this January. Find out more about the St. Lucie Reef project by viewing our youtube video and be on the lookout for two forthcoming publications from Dani's research.
Coral reefs on Florida’s Reef Tract (FRT) are susceptible to many anthropogenic influences including controlled freshwater discharges and agricultural runoff as well as high natural environmental variability from seasonal rainfall and upwelling. To better understand coral population structure and responses to sub-lethal stressors, populations of the scleractinian coral Montastraea cavernosa in the northern FRT were examined using a combination of genomic and transcriptomic techniques. Microsatellite genetic markers identified high local retention among sites and a slight southward gene flow. These findings provide evidence for local conservation through a network of small-scale management units throughout southeast Florida. To assess variation in coral gene expression, a tag-based sequencing transcriptomic approach was used to analyze corals at St. Lucie Reef (SLR), off Stuart, FL. Temporal variation had the greatest influence of differentially expressed genes among M. cavernosa colonies. Dani's results will be shared with local resource managers and coupled with a complementary ex-situ experimental trial conducted by recent Voss lab graduate Alycia Shatters.