August 2022: Explore: New hope for coral disease comes from probiotics
November 2021: University of Florida Genetics Institute faculty spotlight on Dr. Meyer.
November 2021: Stony coral tissue loss disease in National Geographic with a quote from Dr. Meyer near the end.
Summer 2021: Our lab is part of a collaboration with Dr. Blake Ushijima at the University of Wilmington North Carolina and Dr. Valerie Paul at the Smithsonian Marine Station developing probiotic treatments for corals with stony coral tissue loss disease. The Meyer lab’s role is to sequence the genomes of potential probiotic strains to look for the biosynthetic genes making key products (typically anti-microbial compounds) as well as to examine other characteristics encoded in the genome such as antibiotic resistance. In addition, we use molecular tools (16S rRNA amplicon libraries and digital droplet PCR) to track colonization of the probiotic strains and to determine overall microbiome changes associated with probiotic treatments. This project is supported by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and by Revive & Restore, as part of the Advanced Coral Toolkit. Below are a few popular news articles on this project.
Hanh Nguyen was awarded her PhD for her work on the microbial communities of Stormwater Treatment Areas that reduce phosphorus loads before it enters the Everglades.
Our lab’s work, in conjunction with collaborators at the Smithsonian Marine Station and Oregon State University is mentioned in this recent article on the stony coral tissue loss disease outbreak.
Nicole Miller was awarded her MSc. in Interdisciplinary Ecology for her work on the microbiomes of Acropora cerviconis in coral nurseries. Stayed tuned for the publication of her work. We wish her the best of luck in her new job in a healthcare lab.
In February, Dr. Julie Meyer, her postdoc Dr. Anya Brown, and graduating MSc. student Nicole Miller each gave oral presentations to the international conference of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Dr. Meyer presented her recent work on the ongoing outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) in the Florida Reef Tract. This devastating, multi-year disease outbreak impacts most of the reef-building boulder corals on the reef tract and has recently spread to other parts of the Caribbean. More details about this disease outbreak can be found here: https://floridakeys.noaa.gov/coral-disease/. Dr. Brown presented results of her dissertation work at the University of Georgia on vermetid snails and corals in Moorea, French Polynesia. Last, but not least, Nicole presented the results of her thesis about the microbiomes of ocean nursery-reared elkhorn coral, the most common coral species currently used in massive restoration efforts around the Caribbean. Nicole graduates this Spring semester with a MSc in Interdisciplinary Ecology.
In addition to the opportunity to present our results to an international audience, we chose this conference to support the recovery of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Several local speakers at the conference shared heartbreaking and inspiring stories of how the hurricane impacted the people of Puerto Rico. We also learned of the ongoing efforts to rebuild Puerto Rico with sustainability in mind, including switching to renewable resources like solar power. Extensive educational programs are reaching out to school children to teach them about sustainability and how to prepare for future storms in a changing climate. We also took the opportunity to support local business by taking a scuba diving trip to see the coral reefs on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, where half of the dive shops have closed in the aftermath of the hurricane for economic reasons.
This fall, I welcomed my first graduate student, Nicole Miller, to the lab. Nicole started out as an undergraduate research volunteer a year ago, then moved up to lab technician after completing her BS in UF’s Department of Microbiology and Cell Science. She is now starting a project looking at the microbiomes of restored corals. We recently attended the annual meeting of the Florida Branch of the American Society for Microbiology in the always beautiful Clearwater, FL where I presented some preliminary findings from my metatranscriptomic study of the Black Band Disease of corals.
Honored to find myself listed among 10 Women in STEM that Make You Want to Change the World on College Magazine.
I joined the faculty of the Department Soil and Water Sciences in January 2017. Here is a short blog about my road to Florida. Find out more about all of the new faculty members who have recently joined our department here.
I got the chance to speak to the One Health Center for Excellence at the University of Florida, a multi-disciplinary group focused on bringing together researchers from diverse backgrounds to stimulate new projects aimed at solving large, complex problems. Learn more about the One Health initiative here. You can download the talk (as an .mp4) at the page below.
My 20th peer-reviewed paper was recently published in Frontiers in Microbiology (open access) and featured on Microbiome Digest – Bik’s Picks. Bik’s Picks is a great resource for keeping up with the latest microbiome research, conveniently sorted by host type or environment. This paper is the result of testing the hypothesis that Black Band Disease of corals is preceded by Dark Spot Syndrome. We tagged and monitored several corals with Dark Spot at the Smithsonian’s Carrie Bow Cay Field Station in Belize. We did not find that Dark Spot developed into Black Band, but we did document differences in the ultimate outcome of the syndrome in different coral colonies. I love that we were able to document the progression of the disease in these tagged corals with underwater photographs, and these are included in the paper.
Most of my work at the University of Florida is focused on Black Band Disease, which impacts dozens of coral species and has a global distribution. Black Band Disease was recently covered by Daniel P. Hauesser in the American Society of Microbiology’s Small Things Considered blog.
An oldie but goodie! Work that I did with Julie Huber at the Marine Biological Laboratory was featured in the American Society of Microbiology’s Small Things Considered blog and also discussed on the podcast This Week in Microbiology. This open access paper was one of my favorites, as we got to learn something new about an ephemeral microbiological event and include some really cool SEM (scanning electron microscopy) photos AND a video* of the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) collecting samples from the “snowblower vents” in action (*Look for the link in the right hand column under Supplemental Data). Small Things Considered blogger Than Kyaw also tracked down a short clip here from NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.
Microbes in the ocean underneath the ocean…..our long-awaited, interdisciplinary work at North Pond was published in Scientific Reports (open access). After many years of planning to drill holes in the earth’s crust underneath the ocean and to install equipment to be able to sample the microbes in subseafloor fluids (that was done before I ever got to the MBL), it is really exciting to finally see this in print. The study has grabbed some media attention: EurekAlert!, phys.org, Ocean News & Technology, Motherboard, Science Daily, Space Daily, Headlines & Global News, Bik’s Picks. Who doesn’t want to know what lives below the ocean floor?