Seed Grant 08

INTRA-CREATE SEED COLLABORATION

Seed Grant 08

Effects of sea warming on jellyfishes using ecological and genetic approaches.

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The SHARE-NUS Team, is under Dr. Jessica Bellworthy (SHARE- The Inter-university Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat) and Dr. Yap Wei Liang Nicholas (NUS).

In recent years, an unexpected proliferation of jellyfishes [‘jellyfish blooms’] as marine pests have been observed in waters near coastal communities worldwide, adversely compromising human health and economy. While increasing sea temperatures as a consequence of climate change have been implicated as a de facto cause of these jellyfish blooms, there is little evidence to support this. Knowledge gaps in jellyfish biology hinders the development of mitigating actions and monitoring tools to manage these marine pests, and alleviate jellyfish-human conflicts.

The grant aims to fill this knowledge gap by investigating the reproductive and molecular responses of two bloom forming tropical jellyfishes in response to increasing seawater temperature. Knowledge gained will prime the synthesis of future marine pest management strategies that will help pre-empt and/or mitigate jellyfish blooms, thereby safeguarding human-health and benefitting marine industries such as tourism, mariculture, and fishing. It will also prime opportunities and collaborative efforts in the fields of bioprospecting (novel drug discoveries) and culture of jellyfishes as sustainable, edible proteins.

We hypothesise that rising sea temperatures affect the reproductive phenology and output of tropical jellyfishes, and significantly alter gene expression. The grant has two objectives: i) to characterise reproductive changes in jellyfish polyps in response to increased seawater temperature, and ii) to decipher gene expression changes that follow thermal stress.