Experimental scattering data (SANS) were collected from living Symbiodinium cells extracted from a branching reef-building coral, Acropora - and extracted from, and living within the anemone, Aiptasia. Since small angle neutron scattering (SANS) employs a non-ionizing beam and is effectively a non-destructive statistical probe of structure we will present evidence that the structure of the chloroplast membranes of these living cells remains largely unaffected by the beam and that the signal contains structural information averaged over millions of these chloroplast membranes within the metabolizing cells. We present a model for this scattering from the chloroplast structures of Symbiodinium cells and compare the model with the collected data. Experimental data was also collected while heating from room temperature to 35°C to simulate the thermal aspect of coral bleaching. The significance of our work to the study of chloroplast membranes in simple organisms will be discussed and some implications for future SANS studies aimed towards understanding coral bleaching research will be presented.
Dr. Jitae Park
Dr. Theresia Heiden-Hecht