Update 1: Identifying Deep-Reef Hydroids from Curacao and Dominica

Originally my project involved looking at gene expression in the coral species Acropora millepora in response to changes in pH. The coral that I chose to work with is unfortunately one of the most difficult corals to keep alive; I still decided to choose it because there is a lot of research already done on it and also it is crucial in coral reefs, making it really relevant. However, I tried taking care of them and they died within a day or two. Then I thought that I could instead work with the jellyfish species Cassiopea xamachana, as there are a lot of them here at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Unfortunately after this past weekend they aren’t doing too well either, for unknown reasons. I have realized that perhaps it is just not in the cards for me to work with living organisms! Thus, I have made the decision to switch to another project entirely that doesn’t involve keeping aquatic animals alive, which has proven to be quite a challenge for me. My supervisor here, Dr. Allen Collins, however, has recently received several samples of organisms from tropical deep reefs near the islands of Curacao and Dominica. Included in these samples are what are called hydroids, or hydrozoans, which are very small organisms in the phylum Cnidaria, related to corals and jellyfish. My new project will be focusing on identifying the species of hydroids that are in these samples by extracting and sequencing their DNA. I am excited about this project shift, and I can’t wait to see what I find!

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