The candidate Nguyen Thi Hai Thanh, Nha Trang University - member of Biodiversity and Conservation Scientific group - has successfully defended her thesis for the degree Philosophiae Doctor of University of Bergen on 21st of February, 2020.
The thesis’s title: “Adaptation of Anemonefish to their host anemones: From Genetics to Physiology”
Clownfish and anemones are a symbol of coral reefs that are familiar to many. The association anemonefish and anemone is iconic example of mutualism in coral reefs. This mutualism can be studied in terms of permanent and temporary adaptation of fish toward their host anemones. This thesis explores the evolution of the relationship and how the fish adapt to live with anemones, and aims to test (1) Whether a mutual relationship leads to adaptation of anemonefish symbionts to their host anemones through coevolution (2) Whether Amphiprion ocellaris juveniles are able to acclimate to live with multi host anemone species (unnatural hosts - the hosts that the fish normally do not live in nature), and what the consequences may be in terms of growth and activity, and (3) Whether the acclimation of fish is mediated by biochemical changes in skin mucus. Some types of clownfish are specialists and live with only one type of anemone, other species can live with many different types of anemone. The disputas presentation described how fish learn to recognize and live with their anemone, and how their behaviour and physiology changes when they must learn to adapt to a new host. Studying this process and this relationship can help us to predict responses of the coral reef community to future climate change.