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  • Title: CAREER: Exploring the Immunological Priming in Basal Metazoan (Anthozoan)
  • Principal Investigators: Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty
  • Funding Amount: $574,995
  • Funding Source: National Science Foundation
  • Timeline: 07/20/15–07/31/21

Coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically important ecosystems on the planet. However, they are at risk of demise from ongoing and impending environmental stressors and disease-causing agents. There is a need to understand the mechanisms of resistance to pathogenic stressors by corals if we are to influence the persistence of coral reefs under current challenges.

This research will elucidate the specificity, memory and molecular basis of the defense response of corals upon repetitive encounters with pathogens. Understanding how the immune system of these organisms responds to pathogens may offer insights into the resilience of these ecosystems, and potentially may inform remediation of them. One clear implication would be the development of immunization protocols to improve tolerance and survival of corals and their relatives.

The proposed research will increase and potentially transform our understanding of the dynamic immunological response of these basal animals, which remains grossly understudied despite the ecological and economic importance of coral reefs. Furthermore, the project will build science capacity through the training and education of the next generation of American and international young scientists. The lead investigator will develop research and educational projects to support K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students within the integrated scope of the project.

Read this story in Medium to find out more about this project.


  • 2020

    Cooke, I., Ying, H., Forêt, S., Bongaerts, P., Strugnell, J. M., Simakov, O., Zhang, J., Field, M. A., Rodriguez-Lanetty, M., Bell, S. C., Bourne, D. G., van Oppen, M. J. H., Ragan, M. A., & Miller, D. J. (2020). Genomic signatures in the coral holobiont reveal host adaptations driven by Holocene climate change and reef specific symbionts. Science Advances6(48), eabc6318. 

    Dougan, K. E., Ladd, M. C., Fuchs, C., Vega Thurber, R., Burkepile, D. E., & Rodriguez-Lanetty, M. (2020). Nutrient Pollution and Predation Differentially Affect Innate Immune Pathways in the Coral Porites porites. Frontiers in Marine Science7, 1–11. 

  • 2019

    Bellantuono, A. J., Dougan, K. E., Granados‐Cifuentes, C., & Rodriguez‐Lanetty, M. (2019). Free‐living and symbiotic lifestyles of a thermotolerant coral endosymbiont display profoundly distinct transcriptomes under both stable and heat stress conditions. Molecular Ecology, 28(24), 5265–5281. 

    Lewis, C., Neely, K., & Rodriguez-Lanetty, M. (2019). Recurring Episodes of Thermal Stress Shift the Balance From a Dominant Host-Specialist to a Background Host-Generalist Zooxanthella in the Threatened Pillar Coral, Dendrogyra cylindrus. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6, 1–15.