A team of researchers from the Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) have developed an interactive global map of corals and zooxanthellae as part of a hybrid web application titled GeoSymbio. This application provides global-scale biological and ecosystem information on symbiotic zooxanthellae called Symbiodinium which are uni-cellular, photosynthetic dinoflagellates that live inside the cells of other marine organisms like anemones, jellyfish, and corals.
Symbiodinium are responsible for providing energy to their coral hosts which drives the deposition of calcium carbonate and results in the creation of coral reefs. The differential responses of corals and Symbiodinium types to environmental stressors have important implications for the resiliency of coral reef ecosystems to climate change. Dr. Tim McClanahan, Senior Conservation Zoologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society, stated that, "Given the pace of climate change and scientific developments around
Symbiodinium, GeoSymbio will catalyze the use of this knowledge towards increasing reef resilience and improved management decisions".The genus Symbiodinium encompasses nine distinct genetic lineages or clades, with many sub-cladal types within each clade. The GeoSymbio application provides the genetic identification and taxonomic description of over 400 distinct Symbiodinium subclades in invertebrate hosts that have been sampled from a variety of marine habitats, thereby providing a wealth of information for symbiosis researchers in a single online location. By utilizing Google Apps, the team was able to develop this web-based tool to discover, explore, visualize, and share data in a rapid, cost-effective, and engaging manner.
GeoSymbio is the first comprehensive effort to collate and visualize Symbiodinium ecology, diversity, and geography in an online web application tha
|Contact: Carlie Wiener|
University of Hawaii ‑ SOEST