ECR feature: Victoria Glynn

Victoria Glynn is a PhD candidate at McGill University, Canada. She is an ecologist & science educator with a special focus on coral adaptation to environmental stressors. Here, Victoria shares her recent work on the factors structuring coral-algal symbioses.

The PhD candidate Victoria Glynn

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Institute. McGill University, Montréal, Canada

Academic life stage. PhD candidate

Recent JBI paper. Glynn, V. M., Vollmer, S. V., Kline, D. I., & Barrett, R. D. H. (2023) . Environmental and geographical factors structure cauliflower coral’s algal symbioses across the Indo-Pacific. Journal of Biogeography, 50(4), 669–684.

Caption. There is a complex interplay between thermal history and geographic isolation in structuring the symbioses of cauliflower corals (Pocillopora spp.) and their dinoflagellates (family Symbiodiniaceae). When analyzing publicly available dinoflagellate marker-gene data from the nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2), cauliflower corals across the Indo-Pacific were found to associate with three different dinoflagellate genera: Cladocopium spp., Durusdinium spp., and Symbiodinium spp.

(1) We found some evidence that geographic isolation could explain dinoflagellate community differences, but the effect was relatively weak.

(2) Sea surface temperature was the factor that most strongly affected community composition, such that corals from locations most similar in temperature had more similar dinoflagellate communities.

(3) Additionally, when considering time since the last mass bleaching event, corals that had more recently bleached (within the last 5 years) had similar proportions of Cladocopium spp. and Durusdinium spp. Meanwhile, corals that had not recently bleached were additionally associated with Symbiodinium spp. Together, our findings highlight how local environmental conditions and bleaching history can impact coral-dinoflagellate symbioses, even in a coral genus with a widespread distribution.

Biography. Victoria Marie Glynn is a PhD candidate at McGill University (Montréal, Québec) and a Fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. She is broadly interested in how corals and their microorganisms (microbiome) implement a diversity of strategies to cope with environmental stress. Victoria implements cutting-edge molecular techniques to answer the overarching question: who is there, and what are they doing? As a STRI Fellow, she leverages the unique conditions of Panama’s Tropical Eastern Pacific, where upwelling occurs on a seasonal basis and El Niño events are common, to study the mechanisms underlying coral bleaching. Outside research, Victoria is involved in various science outreach and equity, diversity, and inclusion projects as a Science Education Fellow in the Office of Science Education at McGill and the Redpath Museum’s graduate public programming representative. She also creates scientific illustrations to add a storytelling element to her practice, so that fellow researchers and the general public alike can better understand the various scales and dynamics she is investigating.

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