Anthropogenic activities are causing the global climate to change at an unprecedented rate. The uptake of additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is changing ocean chemistry, with potentially far-reaching impacts on marine life. There is great concern that the environmental change is outpacing the rate of genetic adaptation. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that some responses can be plastic but also heritable across generations. Over the past years I have been investigating the impacts of ocean acidification on marine fishes through experiments, molecular work and computational analyses. We performed unique transgenerational experiments to determine the molecular response of a coral reef fish to short-term, developmental and transgenerational exposure to near future elevated CO2. This aids in teasing apart plastic responses due to developmental plasticity and reveals within-generation specific reactions to be driven by epigenetic regulators. Importantly, we find that altered gene expression for the majority of within-generation responses returns to baseline levels following parental exposure to elevated CO2 conditions. Furthermore, molecular responses of offspring vary largely with parental phenotype which was measured by their level of behavioural tolerance to elevated CO2. In this talk I will show some of our experiments of the last years and present some unpublished data of studies from the wild. My aim is to further understand behaviour and adaptive potential of marine organisms to the rapidly changing environment.
Celia Schunter, is a biologist from Barcelona with a Master in Developmental Biology, Genetics and Evolution and a PhD in Philosophy and Genetics. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at SWIMS-HKU.
Ecological genomics, transcriptomics & epigenomics of adaptation, response to environmental change, transgenerational inheritance, and environmental effects on behaviour and the brain in marine organisms.