Coral Microbiome

All of life’s diversity on earth is a result of random mutations being selected for across varying environments. The more that environments vary, the greater the potential for organisms to become locally adapted. Local adaptation refers to the simple idea that an organism will thrive best in the environment where it comes from. We used to think of the ocean as a relatively homogeneous environment on small scales, but coral reef research has routinely demonstrated that this may not be the case: even a few kilometers can be the difference between high or low light, stable or volatile temperatures, and extreme to negligible wave activity.

Two important microorganismal communities that live and interact within corals. Coral photograph by Spencer Millsap, algal symbiont photograph by Todd C. LaJeunesse, bacterial image found on


Davies Lab graduate student Nicola G. Kriefall and collaborator Dr. John P. Rippe sampling coral tissue shortly after Hurricane Irma. Photograph by Dr. Karl D. Castillo.


Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys as a category 5 storm in October 2017. We are asking: did this disturbance disrupt coral microbial networks? Photograph by NASA/NOAA GOES Project