People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image Menu Image

Genetic variation in corals at the whole genome scale


Tuesday, October 31st, 12:00 to 13:00 hrs

Building 19, Room 106, JCU Townsville Campus
Ira Cooke
Ira Cooke

Abstract. Since the first draft human genome reference was produced in 2001 the genomes of 10’s of thousands of people have been sequenced with plans to sequence many hundreds of thousands more. This data has provided unprecendented insights into our evolutionary and demographic history in the relatively recent (10’s to 100’s of ka) past. More importantly it underpins the notion of personalized medicine, whereby variation in the human genome can be used to predict susceptibility to disease and prognosis from treatment. Recently, high quality draft reference genomes for several coral species have become available. This development, together with reductions in sequencing costs means that it is now feasible to pursue the analysis of whole genome variation in corals.The comprehensive maps of genomic variation provided by such data enable powerful analyses of past evolutionary and demographic history as well as monitoring of contemporary selection events such as bleaching. In this seminar I will provide an overview of the analytical techniques enabled by whole genome sequencing as well as preliminary results from sequencing of 150 Acropora tenuis colonies from the central Great Barrier Reef.

Biography. Ira Cooke is a senior lecturer in bioinformatics at JCU. He develops and implements methods for the analysis of large scale ‘omic’ (genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic) data and uses them to understand the basic biology, evolutionary history and population structure of corals. He also uses many of the same techniques to answer questions in human and animal health. His career spans a diverse range of disciplines. He received his PhD in soft-matter physics from ANU in 2006 and did his first postdoc developing models for lipid membranes at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Germany.  He then moved to ecological modelling with a second postdoc at Cambridge University in the UK where he developed a computer model for farmland bird populations. In 2010 he returned to Australia and began his career in bioinformatics at La Trobe University with the Victorial Life Sciences Computation Initiative (now Melbourne Genomics). Since moving to JCU in 2016 he has turned his research interests to analyzing datasets in tropical health and the molecular biology of corals.


Australian Research Council Pandora

Partner Research Institutions

Partner Partner Partner Partner
Coral Reef Studies