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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Sofia Fortunato

Sofia Fortunato

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

PhD, University of Bergen, Norway (2014)

Program 3: Responding to a Changing World.
Coral genomics group.

James Cook University

+61 (0)7 4781 6294

Sofia Fortunato obtained a MSc. in Microbiology and a PhD in Evolutionary Developmental Biology at the University of Bergen and the Sars centre for Marine Molecular Biology, in Norway. During her PhD  she used genomics to understand the evolution of developmental genes in sponges. Sofia likes using an integrating approach in ecology, evolution, developmental biology and genetics to understand molecular mechanisms of calcification and stress responses in cnidarians and sponges associated to corals reefs by using genomics and other molecular techniques. She is involved in the genome and transcriptome project of several calcareous sponges. She is also a visual artists who likes using  microscopic techniques, painting  and illustrations to communicate sciences.

Projects and Collaborations:

Genome project of calcareous sponges, including the sponge Pericharax sp of the Great Barrier Reef together with collaborators Maja Adamska, Marcin Adamski (Australia National University, ANU, Canberra) and with Oliver Voigt (LMU, Germany). This project will allow her to understand the evolution of the calcifying machinery in calcisponges.

Developmental biology and molecular mechanisms of calcification in corals (with Aurelie Moya and David Miller, coral genomics group).


SAV Fortunato, M Vervoort, M Adamski, M Adamska (2016). Conservation and divergence of bHLH genes in the calcisponge Sycon ciliatum EvoDevo 7 (1), 23.

S Jensen, SAV Fortunato, F Hoffmann, S Hoem, HT Rapp, L Øvreås et al. (2016). The Relative Abundance and Transcriptional Activity of Marine Sponge-Associated Microorganisms Emphasizing Groups Involved in Sulfur Cycle. Microbial Ecology, 1-9

SAV Fortunato, M Adamski, M Adamska (2015). Comparative analyses of developmental transcription factor repertoires in sponges reveal unexpected complexity of the earliest animals. Marine Genomics 24, 121-129.

SAV Fortunato, M Adamski, OM Ramos, S Leininger, J Liu, DEK Ferrier, M Adamska (2014). Calcisponges have a ParaHox gene and dynamic expression of dispersed NK homeobox genes.Nature 514 (7524), 620-623

Sven Leininger, Marcin Adamski, Brith Bergum, Corina Guder, Jing Liu, Mary Laplante, Jon Bråte, Friederike Hoffmann, Sofia Fortunato, Signe Jordal, Hans Tore Rapp, Maja Adamska. (2014). Developmental gene expression provides clues to relationships between sponge and eumetazoan body plans. Nat Comm. 5

SAV Fortunato, S Leininger, M Adamska (2014). Evolution of the Pax-Six-Eya-Dach network: the calcisponge case study. EvoDevo 5 (1), 1.

S Fortunato, M Adamski, B Bergum, C Guder, S Jordal, S Leininger et al. (2012). Genome-wide analysis of the sox family in the calcareous sponge Sycon ciliatum: multiple genes with unique expression patterns. EvoDevo 3 (1), 1.


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