Research Area 2: The Sea Anemone Aiptasia as a model for coral symbiosis

Categories: Current Research


Coral reefs are hotspots of marine biodiversity and threatened by anthropogenic impact. These ecosystems depend on a functional symbiosis between coral hosts and their intracellular algal symbionts. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this partnership are not well understood, partly because corals are difficult to work with. In order to accelerate scientific discovery and together with collaborators from the USA and Germany, we are generating the ecological, methodological, and genomic resources for the sea anemone Aiptasia as a model system for cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbioses.

Aiptasia 2

Fig. 1 Red chlorophyll autofluorescence of the Symbiodinium endosymbionts in its host Aiptasia. Photography by Sebastian Baumgarten.

Prof. John Pringle, Stanford University, USA
Prof. Virginia Weis, Oregon State University, USA
Prof. Manuel Aranda, KAUST, Saudi Arabia
Prof. Annika Guse, University Heidelberg

Currently involved from our lab
Prof. Christian R. Voolstra
Sebastian Baumgarten (Ph.D. student)
Mohammad Binsarhan​ (M.Sc. student)​

A journey into the wild of the cnidarian model system Aiptasia and its symbionts.
C.R. Voolstra
Molecular Ecology, Volume 22, 4366-4368, (2013)​