Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Rusty Rodriguez, Ph.D.
Western Fisheries Research Center

Symbiotic Associations and the Adaptive Potential of Biological Systems

Wednesday — November 7, 2012
Pacific Forum — 3:00 p.m.

Symbiotic associations span a continuum from parasitism to mutualism and the outcome of specific associations is context driven based on inter-genomic interactions and environmental factors. These factors will determine the ability of plants and animals to adapt to a changing climate. For example, plants in natural ecosystems adapt to abiotic stress by forming symbiotic associations with fungal endophytes that confer stress tolerance. Without the endophytes, the plants are not stress tolerant and do not survive in the habitats to which they are adapted. Symbiotically conferred stress tolerance typically occurs in a habitat-specific manner, a phenomenon we designate Habitat Adapted Symbiosis (HAS). Although several biochemical processes have been correlated to plant stress tolerance, few processes correlate with symbiotically conferred stress tolerance. I will present a mechanism for symbiotically conferred stress tolerance, how plants adapt to environmental gradients, and a strategy to mitigate impacts of climate change.


Next: November 28—David Packard Distinguished Lecturer Dana Yoerger, Ph.D.