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:

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.  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., 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., 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

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.

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. 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.

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

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.

de Goeij, J.M., Lesser, M.P. and J. Pawlik. Chapter 8, Nutrient Fluxes and Ecological Functions of Coral Reef Sponges in a Changing Ocean.  In: Climate Change, Ocean Acidification and Sponges, Carballo, J.L. and J. Bell (eds.), Springer, 2017.

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