Noah Hackney

Mentor: Dr. Tom Frazer
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
 
"When I was little and throughout high school, my father would always take me to to the many different springs and coral reefs found in Florida and I also participated in a marine science summer camp every year throughout middle school. I found a love for working in marine environments during my younger years and came to college with an interest to study these systems. My sophomore year, I saw an advertisement from a graduate student studying marine ecology and saw an amazing opportunity to get first hand experience in a field I was so intrigued with and I have been working in the lab he is in ever since!"

Major

Microbiology

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Microbiology
  • Coral microflora
  • Community ecology

Academic Awards

  • Goode Life Scholarship
  • SHARE Scholarship

Organizations

  • Florida Club Swimming and Diving

Volunteer

  • Reach Out Volunteers
  • No One Dies Alone
  • The Wildflower Clinic

Hobbies and Interests

  • SCUBA Diving
  • Competitive swimming

Research Description

Vermetid Net Chemical Effects on Coral Mircroflora
Vermetid snails pose a danger to corals in many different reef systems throughout the world. These snails feed by releasing a mucus net into the water column to trap food particles in the water column and then reel their catch back in to digest it. These nets also usually blanket over surrounding corals, leading to large areas of dead or dying coral underneath them. Previous research has shown that these mucus nets play a role in the negative effects that these snails have against corals. There are many different hypothesis as to the exact mechanism the nets have that harms corals, however no exact cause has been found yet. One hypothesis that has been proposed is that the vermetid nets release chemicals into the water which alter the fragile microflora of corals. It has been shown that changes in coral microflora can lead to coral death due to loss of intricate metabolic relationships and protection the coral and its bacteria have together. While working abroad last summer, I tested this hypothesis in Mo'orea, French Polynesia by collecting vermetid nets and coral mucus (which contains the coral's microflora) from the island's surrounding reefs. I later isolated and cultured several different species of bacteria from the coral mucus and look at the effects chemical extracts from the vermetid nets had on their growth inside agar plates.