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Associate Scientist in Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Amy Apprill, joins the show to share insight on her area of expertise: the microbes of the animals in the ocean and the marine ecosystem in general.

Tune in to discover:

  • Where corals get 80-90% of their nutrition, and by what mechanisms they ingest bacteria and zooplankton
  • What types of protective mechanisms explain why it is rare to see an animal sitting on a coral
  • What type of evidence suggests that microbes have different roles within coral depending on their location
  • What’s been revealed by microbial research on the coral reefs in the Florida Keys—one of the most disturbed reef ecosystems in the Caribbean

A coral reef is an entire ecosystem with its own rocks, animals, and plants in the most biodiverse environment in the ocean. Apprill’s work is centered around research on the microbiome of corals.

She and her team have found that different microbes inhabit three primary regions of the coral: the mucous layer, the tissues, and the skeleton. She explains how the use of microscopy has helped shed light on the role of different bacterial communities within the coral depending on where they live.

The team has also been looking at the composition of microbes and cells that can live as symbionts with the corals in the water within the 30 centimeters surrounding corals. She shares what they’ve learned so far from this research, and what’s to come.

Apprill also describes some of the signs which indicate unhealthy coral, and the research they’re doing to determine what factors help healthy corals stay that way. She talks about the importance and sensitivities of ocean ecology, and the impact of human activities on coral reef microbial communities.

To learn more about Apprill’s work, visit  https://www2.whoi.edu/site/amy-apprill/.

Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myK

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