The Global Coral Microbiome Project

Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on the planet, and provide substantial economic and ecological benefits to coastal communities. Corals are composed of both the Cnidarian animal host and complex communities of unique and underexplored microbial organisms. Today these natural wonders are in global decline, threatened by the intersecting effects of multiple stressors including overfishing, pollution, and climate change. These stressors can alter coral microbial communities in ways that may make corals more susceptible to disease or algal competition.

This project aims to describe microbial diversity across all major groups of reef-building corals in each of several distinct ecosystems across the globe, to determine the genome sequences and metabolic capabilities of key coral bacteria, and to test whether the composition of coral microbial communities helps to explain the overall vulnerability or resistance of different coral species to stress or disease.

Video Features: Red Sea

Mo’orea

Lizard Island

Sample Collection Map

Here you can explore our sample collection sites. Zoom in to see photos of individual coral colonies sampled for this project.




Our Team

Dr. Mónica Medina

Dr. Mónica Medina

Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Medina is interested in a wide range of topics dealing with the ecology and evolution of marine organisms including charismatic invertebrates like corals and molluscs, as well as other less known but equally fun critters like algae, fungi and microbes.

Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber

Dr. Rebecca Vega Thurber

Assistant Professor, Oregon State University

As a microbial ecologist and virologist, my work uses interdisciplinary and high technology approaches to address questions about how organisms and their associated microbiota adapt at the molecular, cellular, and community levels to changes in the environment. Using a combination of empirical experimentation, field work, metagenomics, and molecular biology, my research provides important insight into a variety of fields including: virology, microbiology, coral reef ecology, animal physiology, and the evolution of symbioses.

Dr. Jesse Zaneveld

Dr. Jesse Zaneveld

Assistant Professor, University of Washington at Bothell

I have served as a Research Associate at Oregon State University in the Department of Microbiology. He earned a Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011. His current research project is The Global Coral Microbiome Projects: Co-diversification of threatened reef-building corals and their associated microbiotas.

Dr. F. Joseph Pollock

Dr. F. Joseph Pollock

Postdoctoral Fellow, Pennsylvania State University

My interests and experience lie directly at the intersection of environmental protection and indigenous community empowerment. As a postdoctoral researcher at Penn State University, I investigate the structure, function and evolution of coral-microbe symbiosis in order to develop a deeper understanding of the role of micorbes in the health and resilience of reef building corals. And as the Founding Director of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in Marine Science (ATSIMS), I help empower Australia’s first peoples to leverage traditional knowledge and modern technology to better research and manage the coral reefs they have depended upon for tens of thousands of years.

Ryan McMinds

Ryan McMinds

I joined the GCMP team as a research assistant after graduating from the University of Miami in 2012. I enjoy [forcing the lab to listen to] rock and roll music, and I’ve often been seen taking long walks on the beach [on my way to a dive site]. Somewhere along the way I transitioned into grad-student-hood, and am now working mostly on the Global Coral Microbiome Project and my blog, The Cnidae Gritty. I’m interested in the coevolution of corals and their symbionts and am studying this in the context of their biogeography.

Collaborators