Coral & Symbiosis Genomics

The beautiful and biodiverse coral reef ecosystem is built upon the back of a symbiotic interaction between corals and photosynthetic algal symbionts.  The symbionts produce food and stimulate growth of the coral skeleton, resulting in growth rates  to support the hundreds of species that comprise coral reef ecosystems.  My lab works on several aspects of coral biology and symbiosis, primarily using genomic, cellular, and bioinformatic approaches as tools.

Host-microbe interactions

Aiptasia pallida

Under the growing stress to coral reefs from coral bleaching and disease, there is a critical need for systematic understanding of how cnidarians respond to the myriad of microbes they encounter in the marine environment, including pathogens and their own symbionts.  

Reproductive endocrinology of cnidarians

Acropora digitifera spawning

We are examining the genetic underpinnings of reproductive cycles in cnidarians using a comparative genomic approach to identify cnidarian genes that exhibit cyclical patterns of expression correlated with the reproductive cycle. 

Coral ecotoxicology

Effect of copper and metal-contaminated sediments on Bermudian corals at the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences. 

Acropora palmata (photo: MA Coffroth)

Coral Symbiosis and Genomics