Seaweed and sea slugs rely on toxic bacteria to defend against predators

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  • Samantha Mascuch (left) and Julia Kubanek (right) Samantha Mascuch (left) and Julia Kubanek (right)

Plants, animals and even microbes that live on coral reefs have evolved a rich variety of defense strategies to protect themselves from predators. Some have physical defenses like spines and camouflage. Others have specialized behaviors – like a squid expelling ink – that allow them to escape. Soft-bodied or immobile organisms, like sponges, algae and sea squirts, often defend themselves with noxious chemicals that taste bad or are toxic. Ultimately, noxious chemicals allow predators and prey to coexist on coral reefs, increasing their diversity. This is important because diverse ecosystems are more stable and resilient. A greater understanding of the drivers of diversity will aid in reef management and conservation. As marine scientists, Julia Kubanek and Samantha Mascuch study chemical defenses in the ocean. Their laboratory group at the Georgia Institute of Technology explores how marine organisms use chemical signaling to solve critical problems of competition, disease, predation and reproduction. Mascuch is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Biological Sciences, and Kubanek is a professor in the School of Biological Sciences and associate dean for research in the College of Sciences. 

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College of Sciences, School of Biological Sciences

Life Sciences and Biology
Samantha Mascuch, Julia Kubanek, Biology, Ocean, chemical signaling, coral reefs, bacteria
  • Created By: ybassil3
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Jun 18, 2019 - 2:16pm
  • Last Updated: Jun 18, 2019 - 3:09pm