Michael Lesser, Ph.D.

Michael Lesser, Ph.D.

Research Professor

Educational Background:

Ph. D., University of Maine, Zoology, 1989
M.S., University of New Hampshire, Microbiology, 1985
B.A., University of New Hampshire, Microbiology, Minor: Zoology, 1983
A.S. George Washington University, Medical Laboratory Science, 1977

Courses Taught:

Biological Oceanography, Physiological Ecology, Marine Biology, Marine Microbiology, General Microbiology, Immunology, Biology and Ecology of Coral Reefs

Current Research Interests:

My principal focus involve understanding how taxonomically diverse marine organisms respond physiologically to changes in their environment.  In particular I'm interested in how organismal physiology can influence the ecology of marine organisms.  As a physiological ecologist my students and I answer these types of questions by utilizing field and laboratory experiments, as well as a wide range of techniques from molecular biology to in situ measurements.  Currently my research encompasses four major areas;

1) Biochemistry and molecular genetics of oxidative stress in marine organisms associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation, elevated temperatures, or hyperoxic conditions. 

2) Physiological ecology of marine invertebrates and phytoplankton, physiological responses to changes in the environment, bacterial- and algal-invertebrate symbioses, and the trophic biology of suspension-feeding invertebrates.

3) Ecology and photobiology of mesophotic coral reefs.

4) Underwater technology, use of technical diving for scientific research. 

Selected Publications:

Morrow, K., Fiore, C. L., and M. P. Lesser.  Microbiome Differences in the Sponge, Xestospongia muta Along a Shallow to Mesophotic Depth Gradient. Environmental Microbiology, 118: 2025-2038, 2016.

Slattery, M., Gochfeld, D. J., Diaz, M. C., Thacker, R. W., and M. P. Lesser.  Variability in chemical defense across a shallow to mesophotic depth gradient in the Caribbean sponge Plakortis angulospiculatus. Coral Reefs, 35: 11-22, 2016.

Lesser, M.P. and M. MacManes.  Transcriptomic Resources for the Rocky Intertidal Blue Mussell, Mytilus edulis, From the Gulf of Maine.  Journal of Shellfish Research, 35: 435-465, 2016.

Bhattacharya D., S. Agrawal, M. Aranda, S. Baumgarten, M. Belcaid, J.L. Drake, D. Erwin, S. Foret, R.D. Gates, D.F. Gruber, B. Kamel, M.P. Lesser, O. Levy, Y.J. Liew, M. MacManes, T. Mass, M. Medina, S. Mehr, E. Meyer, D.C. Price, H.M. Putnam, H. Qiu, C. Shinzato, E. Shoguchi, A.J. Stokes, S. Tambutte, D. Tchernov, C.R. Voolstra, N. Wagner, C.W. Walker, A.P. Weber, V. Weis, E. Zelzion, D. Zoccola, and P.G. Falkowski. Comparative Genomics Explains the Evolutionary Success of Reef-forming Corals. eLife, doi: 10.7554/eLife.13288, 2016.

Lesser, M. P.  Climate Change Stressors Causes Metabolic Depression in the Mussel, Mytilus edulis, From the Gulf of Maine. Limnology and Oceanography, 61: 1705-1717, 2016.

Lesser, M. P., Fiore, C. L., M. Slattery and J. Zaneveld.  Interactive Effects of Ocean Acidification and Thermal Stress on the Caribbean Sponge, Xestospongia muta Microbiome. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 475: 11-18, 2016.

Fiore, C. L., Labrie, M., and M. P. Lesser.  Transcriptional Activity of the Giant Barrel Sponge, Xestospongia muta, Holobiont: Molecular Evidence for Metabolic Interchange.  Frontiers in Microbiology, 6: 364, 2015.

Lesser, M. P., and J. K. Jarret.  Culture Dependent and Independent Analyses Reveal No Prokaryotic Community Shifts or Recovery of Serratia marcescens in Acropora palmata with White Pox Disease. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 88: 457-467, 2014.

Fiore, C. L., Jarett, J. K., Labrie, M. S., and M. P. Lesser.  Symbiotic Prokaryotic Communities from Different populations of the Giant Barrel Sponge, Xestospongia muta. MicrobiologyOpen, 2: 938-952, 2013.

Fiore, C. L., Baker, D. M., and M. P. Lesser.  Nitrogen Biogeochemistry in the Caribbean Sponge, Xestospongia muta: A Source or Sink of Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen?  PLoS ONE, 8: e72961, 2013.

Lesser, M. P., Stat, M., and R. D. Gates. The Endosymbiotic Dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium sp.) of Corals Are Parasites and Mutualists. Coral Reefs, 32: 603-611, 2013.

Lesser MP. Using Energetic Budgets to Assess the Effects of Environmental Stress on Corals: Are We Measuring the Right Things? Coral Reefs, 32:25-33, 2013.

Lesser, M. P., Carleton, K. L., Böttger, S. A., Barry, T. M. and C. W. Walker.  Sea Urchin Tube Feet are Photosensory Organs that Express a Rhabdomeric-like opsin and PAX6. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0336, 2011.

Lesser, M. P., and M. Slattery.  Invasive Lionfish Causes a Phase Shift to Algal Dominated Communities at Mesophotic Depths on a Bahamian Coral Reef.  Biological Invasions, 13: 1855-1868, 2011.

Lesser, M. P.  Coral Bleaching: Causes and Mechanisms.  In: Coral Reefs: An Ecosystem in Transition, Dubinsky, Z. and N. Stambler (eds.), Springer, pp. 405-420, 2011.

Fiore, C. L., Jarett, J. K., Olson, N. D., and M. P. Lesser.  Nitrogen Fixation and Nitrogen Transformations in Marine Symbioses. Trends in Microbiology, 18: 455-463, 2010.

Lesser, M. P., M. Bailey, D. Merselis, and J. R. Morrison. Physiological response of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis to differences in food and temperature in the Gulf of Maine. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 156: 541-551, 2010.

Lesser, M.P., M. Slattery, M. Stat, M. Ojimi, R. Gates, and A Grottoli.  Photoacclimatization by the Coral Montastraea cavernosa in the Mesophotiz Zone: Light, Food, and Genetics. Ecology, 91:990-1003, 2010.

Banaszak, A. T. and M. P. Lesser.  Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation on Coral Reef Organisms.  Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences, 8: 1276-1294, 2009.

Lesser, M. P. Slattery, M., and J. J. Leichter.  Ecology of Mesophotic Coral Reefs.  Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 375: 1-8, 2009.

Lesser, M. P. Coral Reefs Bleaching and Global Climate Change: Can Corals Survive the Next Century? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104: 5259-5260, 2007.

Bou-Abdallah, F., Chasteen, N. D., and M. P. Lesser. Quenching of Superoxide Radicals by Green Fluorescent Protein. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (General Subjects) 1760:1690-1695, 2006.

Lesser, M. P. Oxidative Stress in Marine Environments: Biochemistry and Physiological Ecology. Annual Reviews of Physiology, 68: 253-278, 2006.

Lesser, M. P., Mazel, C. M., Gorbunov, M. Y., and P. G. Falkowski. Discovery of Symbiotic Nitrogen-Fixing Cyanobacteria in Corals. Science, 305: 997-1000, 2004.

Lesser, M. P. Experimental Coral Reef Biology. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 300: 217-252, 2004.

Cullen, J. J, P. J. Neale, and M. P. Lesser. Biological Weighting Function for the Inhibition of Phytoplankton Photosynthesis by Ultraviolet Radiation. Science, 258:646-650, 1992.

Michael Lesser
Rudman Hall, Room 202
Durham, NH 03824
Phone: 
(603) 862-3442