Abstract: Ocean Acidification and Warming on Gene Expression of Key Genes in Reef-Building Coral

Acropora millepora is one of many kinds of staghorn corals, which are corals that are crucial to the structural integrity of coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean. Because of this crucial role, it is vital to understand how ocean acidification and ocean warming, both consequences of global climate change, affects these corals. For this project, I will be exploring the potential effects of ocean acidification and ocean warming on how much certain genes in Acropora millepora are expressed. I want to see if varying the pH and temperature of the water in which the corals live will cause certain genes critical to reef-building to be upregulated or downregulated. First, I will need to figure out what products I will need to order, including everything I need for setting up the coral tanks and for the gene expression analysis. Then I will create the environments for each of the corals, varying the conditions of the tanks; some will vary in pH, some will vary in temperature, and some will be control tanks. I will then let the corals adjust to this environment before performing gene expression analysis. I will scrape tissue from the corals and extract the RNA, then make complementary DNA (cDNA) of those RNA strands, and then amplify the DNA strands using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Using real-time PCR, I can determine how many of the DNA strands there are, thus giving me a quantitative measurement to compare the relative amounts of gene expression among the coral samples.

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