John Parkinson

Assistant Professor 


Tampa campus
Office: SCA 132
Phone: (813) 974-4588

Email: jparkinson@usf.edu

Specialty Area Recent Publications
Coral Symbiosis, Marine Molecular Ecology, Conservation Genetics John Parkinson

Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, 2014
B.S. ,University of Miami — RSMAS, 2009

I teach Symbiosis and the Environment, a tour through marine and terrestrial mutualisms, and Organic Evolution, an introduction to one of the most unifying theories of biology.

Corals are marine animals related to jellies and anemones. In the tropics, corals often associate with photosynthetic micro-algae that live within their cells, and build large reef structures that support tremendous biodiversity. The algae provide much of the energy corals use for daily function and skeletal growth. Without the algae, reefs wouldn’t be as productive, as multidimensional, or as colorful as they are today. Unfortunately, rising sea surface temperatures cause the symbiosis between corals and micro-algae to break down in a process called ‘bleaching.’ Bleached corals are more susceptible to disease and death, and recent bleaching episodes have decimated coral populations worldwide.

Our lab uses genomic techniques to examine the ecology and evolution of coral-algal symbioses. We are particularly interested in processes related to the establishment, maintenance, and breakdown of intracellular associations, and how these interactions may change as corals adapt to a changing world. Our research involves diving on reefs in the field, maintaining coral and algal cultures to experiment with in the laboratory, and translating our findings into guidance for coral restoration and conservation practitioners in Florida and beyond.