Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2013 Renu A. Nadkarni. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Biology Department

First Advisor

Elizabeth Ann Vallen


Symbiosis between dinoflagellate algae of the genus Symbiodinium and cnidarians provides benefits for both organisms. Normally cnidarian cells host the Symbiodinium intracellularly and previous studies have shown that host cells alter their shape and actin cytoskeleton to accommodate algae. In addition, upregulation of ERM expression in Acropora palmate coral larvae during the onset of symbiosis has previously been described. In other systems, the phosphorylated activated form of ERM, p-ERM, has been shown to bind the protein actin to the plasma membrane and has been implicated in changes in cell shape. To determine whether the sea anemone Aiptasia pallida demonstrated similar changes, levels of ERM, p-ERM, and actin were analyzed in symbiotic and aposymbiotic Aiptasia semi-quantitatively by Western Blot, using the ubiquitously expressed protein tubulin as the control. Immunofluorescence was also used to observe p-ERM in these two conditions. By these methods, it was found that aposymbiotic Aiptasia contained higher levels of p-ERM; however, levels of ERM and actin remained the same. These results have helped identify characteristics that differentiate Aiptasia that do and do not have Symbiodinium.