Porites corals have been shown to produce herpes-like viruses when triggered by environmental stressors. We intend to use coral as a model species to study the immune responses to herpes-like viruses in an invertebrate species. The long-term goals of our study include measuring virus production in multiple coral species, determining if virus production increases under stress, and identifying possible immune genes in corals expressed in response to virus production. One frag of Porites and one of Acropora were grown in separate tanks, each containing artificial seawater and live rock. Stabilization of the corals was achieved through the use of timed overhead lighting, regular feeding, weekly testing of the water for calcium and dKH levels, and periodic addition of KH and magnesium. Two DNA extractions were done on each coral sample and used for PCR. Four genes are initially being targeted: ND5, a control; Spondin2, a putative immune gene; Hsp16, a stress gene; and Thymidylate synthase, produced by the herpes-like virus identified in Porites. Standard PCR has been effective at amplifying these sequences from genomic DNA. After optimization of PCR conditions and product sequencing, qPCR protocols will be developed to quantify gene expression. Future experiments will test the utility of measuring immune dysfunction as a leading indicator of coral reef stress.
- Copyright © 2013 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.