The researchers are eager to share with the public how global warming specifically affects coral, their natural microbiomes, coral pathogens, and the animals that inhabit coral reefs. As their research evolves, they plan to showcase connections between bacterial pathogens and coral disease by using a live coral exhibit and live bacterial cultures in public outreach exhibits.

“In addition to corals, the Vibrio bacteria are pathogenic to fish, shellfish, and urchins; thus, discoveries from our work will contribute to a fundamental understanding of Vibrio pathogenesis and extend to other research programs,” said van Kessel. “Bacteria have intimate and influential interactions with the environment in many ways that are relevant to society. It is critical that we enable people in our communities to connect with science and observe basic research to understand how it impacts their daily lives.”

Collaborating with the van Kessel lab on the project are the Ushijima lab, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and the laboratory of Dor Salomon, Tel Aviv University.