Host-microbe interactions in corals

Corals are severely threatened by multiple climate change stressors and it is therefore critical to understand how corals can persist in a changing ocean. However, corals associate with various microorganisms, including bacteria and symbiotic dinoflagellate algae, and it remains poorly understood how they contribute to the stress tolerance and adaptive capacity of the coral holobiont.

While much research has focused on the interactions between corals and their algal symbionts, much less is known about how other members of the coral microbiome influence holobiont stress tolerance.

My research takes advantage of coral habitats with strong environmental gradients or extreme environmental conditions to better understand how the coral holobiont can gain resistance to environmental extremes, and, thus, future ocean conditions.

Scientist involved in this project

Verena Schoepf


  1. Coral host physiology and symbiont dynamics associated with differential recovery from mass bleaching in an extreme, macro-tidal reef environment in northwest Australia.

    Jung, E.M.U., Stat, M., Thomas, L. et al. Coral Reefs 40, 893–905 (2021).

  2. Thermally Variable, Macrotidal Reef Habitats Promote Rapid Recovery From Mass Coral Bleaching

    Schoepf Verena, Jung Maria U., McCulloch Malcolm T., White Nicole E., Stat Michael, Thomas Luke. Frontiers in Marine Science, vol 7, 2020, doi=10.3389/fmars.2020.00245

  3. High-temperature acclimation strategies within the thermally tolerant endosymbiont Symbiodinium trenchii and its coral host, Turbinaria reniformis, differ with changing pCO2 and nutrients.

    Hoadley KD, Pettay DT, Grottoli AG, Cai W-J, Melman TF, Levas SJ, Schoepf V, Ding Q, Yuan X, Wang Y, Matsui Y, Baumann JH, Warner ME (2016) Marine Biology 163:134. doi:10.1007/s00227-016-2909-8

  4. Limits to the thermal tolerance of corals adapted to a highly fluctuating, naturally extreme temperature environment.

    Schoepf, V., Stat, M., Falter, J. et al. Sci Rep 5, 17639 (2015).

  5. The cumulative impact of annual coral bleaching can turn some winners into losers.

    Grottoli AG, Warner ME, Levas SJ, Aschaffenburg MD, Schoepf V, McGinley MP, Baumann JH, Matsui Y (2014), Global Change Biology vol 20, issue 12, page 3823-3833. doi:10.1111/gcb.12658