Mary Alice Coffroth

PhD (she/her/hers)

Mary Alice Coffroth.

Mary Alice Coffroth

PhD (she/her/hers)

Mary Alice Coffroth

PhD (she/her/hers)

Professor Emerita
Research Professor


Evolutionary biology and Ecology, population biology of marine invertebrates


PhD, Biological Oceanography, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami – 1988

Research Interests

My research is centered on using the population structure and genetic diversity of marine species to provide insight into their current and past population dynamics and to elucidate the mechanisms that maintain the observed diversity. My current research examines the population dynamics and early ontogeny of the symbioses between symbionts within the dinoflagellate family Symbiodiniaceae and cnidarian hosts such as coral. Gaining a better understanding of host-symbiont relationships in coral reef ecosystems will have implications for atmospheric and ocean sciences, conservation biology and the study and diagnosis of microbial diseases in corals.

Recent Former Students

  • Louis Buccella, MS (2017)
  • Kaitlyn Sullivan, MS (2017)
  • Jonathan Sessler, MS (2016)
  • Shelby McIlroy, PhD (2015)
  • DJ Valint, MS (2015)
  • Noel Leigh, MS (2014)
  • Rachel Mellas, MS (2012)


Anke Klueter, PhD (2012-2013) 

Recent Publications

Grottoli AG, Toonen R, van Woesik R, Vega Thurber B, Warner M, McLachlan R, Price J, Bahr K, Buams I, Castillo K, Coffroth MA, Cunning R, Dobson K, Donahue M, Hench J, Iglesias-Prieto R, Kemp D, Kenkel C, Kline D, Kuffner I, Matthews J, Mayfield A, Padilla-Gamino J, Palumbi S, Voolstra C, Weis V, Wu H 2020 (accepted) Increasing comparability among coral bleaching experiments. Ecological Applications doi: 10.1002/eap.2262

McIlroy, SE, Cunning, R, Baker, AC, Coffroth, MA 2019 Competition and succession among coral endosymbionts. Ecology and Evolution 9:12767-12778  DOI: 10.1002/ece3.5749

Poland, DM and Coffroth, MA 2019 Growth and survivorship varies with endosymbiotic algal partner in developing cnidarians. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 612: 87-100.

Bayliss, SLJ, Scott, ZR, Coffroth, MA, terHorst, CP. 2019. Symbiont genotypes vary in response to temperature and nutrients. Ecology and Evolution 9: 2803-2813 doi: 10.1002/ece3.4959

Santos, S.R. and Coffroth, M.A. 2018. Revisiting “Genetic Diversity of Symbiotic Dinoflagellates in the Genus Symbiodinium. Protist 169: 784-787.

 Edmunds,PJ, McIlroy, SE, Adjeroud, M, Ang, P, Bergman, JL, Carpenter, RC, Coffroth, MA, Fujimura, AG, Hench, JL, Holbrook,SJ, Leichter, JJ, Muko, S, Nakajima, Y, Nakamura, M, Paris, CB, Schmitt, RJ, Sutthacheep,M,Toonen, RJ, Sakai, K, Suzuki, G, Washburn, L, Wyatt, A, Mitarai,S. (2018). Critical information gaps impeding understanding of the role of larval connectivity among coral reef islands in an era of global change. Frontiers in Marine Science 5:Article 290.  doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00290

O’Rourke, Ohdera,A., Sunagawa, S. Diaz-Almeyda, E.M.,  DeSalvo, M.K., Coffroth, M.A, Voolstra, C.R., Medina, M. (2018) Gene expression of settled and metamorphosed Orbicella faveolata during establishment of symbiosis. PeerJ Preprints 5:e3283v1

Quigley K.M., Baker A.C., Coffroth M.A., Willis B.L., van Oppen M.J.H. (2018) Bleaching Resistance and the Role of Algal Endosymbionts. In: van Oppen M., Lough J. (eds) Coral Bleaching. Ecological Studies (Analysis and Synthesis), vol 233. Springer, Cham, Switzerland (2018)

Klueter, A., Trapani, J., Archer, F.I., McIlroy, S.E., Coffroth, M.A. Comparative growth rates of cultured marine dinoflagellates in the genus Symbiodinium and the effect of temperature and light PLoS One 12(11):e)187707 (2017)

McIlroy, SE and Coffroth, MA. Coral ontogeny affects early symbiont acquisition in laboratory reared recruits. Coral Reefs DOI 10.1007/s00338-017-1584-7 (2017)

Grupstra CGB, Coma R, Ribes M, Posbic-Leydet K, Parkinson JE, McDonald K, Catllà M, Vooltra CR,  Hellberg ME, Coffroth MA. Evidence for coral range expansion accompanied by reduced symbiont diversity. Coral Reefs DOI 10.1007/s00338-017-1589-2  (2017)

Gregoire V, Schmacka F. Coffroth MA, Karsten U. Photophysiological and thermal tolerance of various genotypes of the coral endosymbiont Symbiodinium sp. (Dinophyceae) Journal of Applied Phycology (2017)  DOI 10.1007/s10811-017-1127-1

Neal, BP, Khen, A, Treibitz, T, Beijbom, O, O’Conner, G, Coffroth, MA, Knowlton, N, Kriegman, D, Mitchell, BG, Kline, DI. Eight­-year time series indicates Caribbean massive corals not recovering from repeated thermal stress events. Ecology and Evolution. 7:1339-1353 (2017)

Poland, DM and Coffroth, MA Trans-generational specificity within a cnidarian-algal symbiosis. Coral Reefs 36:119-129  DOI 10.1007/s00338-016-1514-0 (2017)

McIlroy, SE, Kleuter, Gillette, P, Cunning, R, Capo, T, Baker, A and Coffroth, MA The effects of Symbiodinium identity on growth, survival and photosynthesis of newly settled polyps. J. Phycol.  52:1114-1124  (2016).

Parkinson, JE, Coffroth, MA, LaJeunesse, TC. New species of clade B Symbiodinium (Dinophyceae) from the greater Caribbean belong to different functional guilds: S. aenigmatum sp. nov., S. antillogorgium sp. nov., S. endomadracis sp. nov., and S. pseudominutum sp. nov. J. Phycol- 51: 850–858 (2015)

Klueter, A., Crandall, J.B., Archer, F.I., Teece, M.A., Coffroth, M.A. Taxonomic and environmental variation in metabolite profiles in marine dinoflagellates of the genus Symbiodinium. Metabolites 5:74-99 doi:10.3390/metabo5010074  (2015)

Porto, I, Zubillada, AL, Shearer, TL, Bastidas, C, Salazar, C, Coffroth MA and Szmant, AM.  Population structure of the corals Orbicella faveolata and Acropora palmata in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System with comparisons over the Caribbean basin-wide spatial scale. Mar. Biol. 162:81–98  DOI 10.1007/s00227-014-2560-1 (2014)

Prada C, McIlroy SE, Beltra DM, Valint DJ, Ford SA, Hellberg ME, Coffroth MA Cryptic diversity hides host and habitat specialization in a gorgonian-algal symbiosis Molec Ecol 23:3330-3340 (2014) 

Mellas RE, McIlroy, S.E., Fitt WK, Coffroth MA. Symbiosis flexibility and the effects of symbiont type in the upside-down jellyfish, Cassiopea spp  J. exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol 459: 38-44(2014)

Kirk, N, Ritson-Willams, R, Coffroth, MA, Miller, MW, Fogarty, ND, Santos, SR.  Tracking Transmission of Apicomplexan Symbionts in Diverse Caribbean Corals. PLOS One 8:e80618 (2013)

Shoguchi, E., Shinzato, C., Kawashima, T. Gyoja, F., Mungpakdee S., Koyanagi R, Takeuchi T, Hisata K, Tanaka M, Fujiwara M, Hamada M, Seidi, A, Fujie M, Usami T, Goto H, Yamasaki S, Arakaki N, Suzuki Y, Sugano S, Toyoda A, Kuroki Y, Fujiyama A, Medina M, Coffroth MA, Bhattacharya D and Satoh N. Draft assembly of the Symbiodinium genome reveals dinoflagellate gene structure. Current Biology 23:1-10 (2013)

Poland, PM, Mansfield, JM, Lewis, CL, Shearer, TL, Connelly, S, Kirk, NL, Coffroth, MA Inter-annual and habitat variation in Symbiodinium acquisition Marine Ecology Progress Series. 476:23-37 (2013)

Evans, MJ, Coffroth, MA, Lasker, HR Effects of predator exclusion on recruit survivorship in an octocoral (Briareum asbestinum) and a scleractinian coral (Porites astreoides). Coral Reefs 32: 597-601 (2013)