Any organism will show changes at the cellular level when stressed. Depending on what the stress is and what the organism is, these changes can tell researchers much about the cellular mechanism at work. In the coral reefs of Bocas del Toro, Panama, Dr. Martin Tresguerres has studied many of the marine creatures in the reef in order to see what the environmental stressors are doing to their cellular structures. Together with two colleages, Tresguerres took samples from different coral reefs in Panama, each of which had different conditions of light, water flow and available food supply.
Looking at the cellular biology of the reef and the marine species within it has resulted in a new exhibit at the Birch Aquarium at UC San Diego devoted entirely to the cell biology of the coral reef environment. The exhibit highlights the complex biodiversity that is present, as well at the cellular activity in a way that is accessible and easier to understand. It also showcases species that normally do not get a lot of attention.