Annika Lamb - AIMS@JCU

Annika Lamb

School of BioSciences

Annika Lamb

School of BioSciences
Assessing the efficacy of managed breeding of corals for reef restoration approaches.

2018 – present: Doctor of Philosophy – Science, University of Melbourne. Research Project: Managed Breeding of Corals for Reef Restoration.

2016: Bachelor of Science Honours – Ecology and Conservation, Monash University. Research Project: Evolution of Australian avifauna through temperature-driven mitochondrial selection.

2012 – 2015: Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Science, Monash University. Majors: Ecology and Conservation and Genetics.

Assessing the efficacy of managed breeding of corals for reef restoration approaches.

2018 to 2021

Project Description

Project Importance

The immense biological, sociological and economic value of coral reefs is being rapidly degraded by anthropogenic stressors. Effective reef restoration and adaptation approaches are being developed to ensure the persistence of reefs while these stressors - most critically climate change - are addressed. The sexual reproduction of corals lends itself to managed breeding – where individuals are crossed to create stock for restoration initiatives. The capacity of various approaches to managed breeding to generate genetically diverse and/or resilient stock must be tested in order to assess their usefulness in a restoration context.

Project Methods

Corals within and among species will be crossed to generate a series of stocks. The diversity of some stocks will be assessed through using genetic tools to conduct parentage assessments. The resilience of other coral stocks will be tested through simulated experiments in a laboratory environment and in their natural environment in the field. Finally, proteomic and cytogenetic approaches will be applied to investigate the reproductive compatibility between species and among individuals within species.

Project Results

Preliminary results from parentage experiments have demonstrated that laboratory coral crosses may not be panmictic. This means that when combining the eggs and sperm of multiple colonies together, it cannot be assumed that those colonies contribute equally to the resulting pool of larvae. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that when breeding coral through mixing the eggs and sperm of multiple colonies in bulk fertilization reactions, a stock of larvae that captures the genetic diversity of all of the parental colonies is produced.

Several proteins have been extracted and identified from coral sperm samples that may be involved in egg-sperm recognition. These are candidate proteins that may play a role in determining reproductive compatibility. Coral chromosomes have also been successfully visualised and will further be counted and analysed
to investigate the impact of chromosome number and arrangement on the reproductive compatibility between species.

Simulated and field-based experiments will generate critical knowledge as to the resilience of corals stocks and thus their ability to be out-planted and used to increase reef resilience.


Climate change,
Controlled Environment,
Coral reefs,
Field based,
Management tools,
Manipulative experiments,
Molecular techniques,
Natural disturbance,
Quantitative marine science

Supervised By:

Libby Evans Illidge (JCU)

Craig Humphrey (AIMS)

Madeleine van Oppen (AIMS)

Peter Harrison (Southern Cross University)

Ary Hoffmann (University of Melbourne)