The earliest reefs are believed to have existed more than 3.4 billion years ago, dating back to the Early Archean era. More “modern” reefs, such as the Indo-Pacific Great Barrier Reef (GBR) have evolved over the last 500–600K years. During each of these major eras of reef development, major climate changes throughout the geological time are believed to have influenced the evolution of species, symbioses, and subsequently, adaptation/acclimation/exaptation of surviving species. Such changes are believed to include the evolution of immune function.
To better understand how future reefs will adapt to present-day climate changes, we study the interface between environmental stress and survivorship, utilizing tools such as diving (SCUBA, tech, commercial), underwater robotics, ROV's, genomics, imaging flow cytometry, and medical biochemistry.
Our studies of coral include shallow water reefs (e.g. USA, Palau, Israel, Australia), mesophotic coral (USA), and deep-water coral reefs (Canada, USA). Current projects include (1) climate change studies of coral and their symbionts, (2) diseases and pathogens of coral and their symbionts, (3) comparative immunology, and (4) invasive species of reef habitats.