We combine ecological physiology and genomic approaches (transcriptomics) to understand the interaction between coral hosts and different algal symbionts in the genus Symbiodinium. We have looked at the establishment of the symbiosis in coral larvae and the breakdown of symbiosis during thermal stress.
We are studying coral-microbiome and Symbiodinium-microbiome coevolution in collaboration with the Vega-Thurber at Oregon State University in a world wide scale. This project, known as, the Global Coral Microbiome Project will address questions about reef health and microbial biogeography.
We are also examining how shifts in microbial diversity in different coral species, and different populations within a single species, affect host cellular response. We use a combination of high-throughput genotyping and transcriptome approaches.
Finally, if you would like to get more frequent updates please check out our project website.
The evolution of the Orbicella species complex (O. faveolata, O. annularis, O. franksi) has been well studied from paleontological, reproductive and ecological perspectives. Yet little is known about the molecular mechanisms that drove speciation in this genus in the past 1.5. mya. We are using comparative genomics and transcriptomics to reveal the underlying genomic signatures of divergence as well as the regulatory networks that control reproductive isolation. We have now collected whole genome data for the three species.
Ecological adaptation in Caribbean corals
We are taking advantage of our reference coral genomes to study ecological adaptation along depth and latitudinal gradients in the Orbicella species complex. We are using genome wide genotyping by sequencing to examine variation in hundreds of individuals.
Symbiosis-driven development in Cassiopea xamachana
We are studying microbial biofilms that induce settlement and metamorphosis in larval stages of the jellyfish C. xamachana. We are also examining the role of different Symbiodinium species on jellyfish development.
We are using comparative genomics to evaluate the existence of a conserved biomineralization toolkit in metazoans. We have focused on invertebrate phyla that form a hard shell (molluscs) or precipitate a skeleton (corals) and for which there are whole genome data for at least one species.