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Advanced Coral Toolkit

Antibody biomarkers to diagnose coral stress

By August 28, 2023No Comments

Martin Tresguerres, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

Our limited knowledge about the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms of coral biology severely impairs our ability to understand and predict universal and species-specific coral responses to climate change, design and evaluate effective conservation approaches, and genetically manipulate corals for conservation purposes.

To help solve these limitations, this project will develop a suit of coral-specific antibody-based biomarkers (ABBs) to be used as a diagnostic tool of coral health and stress-response potential. This project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between coral biology and biomedicine, and aims to generate and validate monoclonal antibodies that specifically bind to target coral molecules with known or presumed roles in symbiosis, biomineralization, and heat-stress response. These antibodies will be used to determine and quantify the presence of the target molecules in the specific coral cell subtypes responsible for symbiosis and biomineralization under control and heat-stress conditions. Subsequent analyses of localization and abundance patterns will help us identify early signs of bleaching, reduced calcification, and heat-stress response.

Corals have begun to bleach on a shallow reef in Raja Ampat, Indonesia | Shutterstock