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)

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The role of microbes in the acclimatisation of corals


Tuesday, May 31st 2016 - 12:00 to 13:00 hrs

Building 19, Room 106, JCU Townsville campus
Hannah Epstein
Hannah Epstein

Abstract: Scleractinian corals are among the most diverse holobionts ever studied. Host to a high diversity and abundance of microbial symbionts, their success in colonizing the vast majority of shallow tropical oceans is often credited to their prokaryotic and endosymbiotic algal partners. However, their ocean environment is changing at an unprecedented rate due to global and local anthropogenic stressors. When environmental alterations occur, corals may rely on their microbial partners to help build stress tolerance. While it is well known that microbes play a crucial role in coral health, their contribution to acclimatisation within and across generations is not well understood. This project will examine changes in microbial community composition and function over natural seasonal temperature cycles as well as when exposed to projected future climate conditions in the laboratory. It will also investigate the effects of parental exposure to future climate conditions on the microbial communities found in their offspring. Identifying the circumstances in which microbial community composition and function change, and whether parental exposure affects the microbial composition found in the next generation is crucial to gaining a more complete view on how the coral holobiont will react to a rapidly changing ocean environment.

BioI am a PhD student working under Madeleine van Oppen, Philip Munday, Gergely Torda and Neal Cantin. Originally from the United States, my background was in marine science and ecotoxicology. After working in a comparative genomics lab following my studies, I discovered my passion for molecular work and answering ecological questions using molecular tools. For my PhD, I am interested in exploring stress tolerance in corals from a microbial perspective. 


Australian Research Council Pandora

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