Coral Health & Disease

Dr. Erinn Muller

Dr. Erinn Muller

Associate Vice President for Research, Program Manager for Coral Health and Disease, Coral Restoration, and Senior Scientist

Dr. Muller's research focuses on identifying corals that are resilient to major threats such as climate change and coral disease to help inform Mote’s coral restoration activities. Additionally, her foundational research characterizes the spatial and temporal dynamics of coral disease outbreaks, while simultaneously studying the microbiome of healthy and sick corals to identify potentially pathogenic agents as well as beneficial microbes. For the last several years, much of her research has been associated with stony coral tissue loss disease, the most devastating coral epizootic to have ever been documented. Dr. Muller’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Park Service, NOAA, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and through philanthropy. She received the prestigious Young Scientist of the Year Award from the International Coral Reef Society in 2015; only one recipient is recognized worldwide each year. In 2019, Dr. Muller received the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.



2011 Ph.D. Biology, Florida Institute of Technology, Graduate Advisor: Dr. Robert van Woesik, Ph.D. 

2007 M.S. Marine Biology, Florida Institute of Technology, Graduate Advisor: Robert van Woesik, Ph.D.

2003 B.S. Marine Biology, Florida Institute of Technology


Eaton KR, Landsberg JH, Kiryu Y, Peters EC, Muller EM. Measuring stony coral tissue loss disease induction and lesion progression within two intermediately susceptible species, *Montastraea cavernosa* and *Orbicella faveolata*. Front. Mar. Sci. (accepted).

Baker, L.J., Reich, H.G., Kitchen, S.A. Klinges JG, Koch HR, Baums IB, Muller EM, Vega Thurber R. The coral symbiont Candidatus *Aquarickettsia* is variably abundant in threatened Caribbean acroporids and transmitted horizontally. ISME J (2021).

Traylor-Knowles N, Connelly MT, Young BD, Eaton K, Muller EM, Paul VJ, Ushijima B, DeMerlis A, Drown MK, Goncalves A, Kron N, Snyder GA, Martin C and Rodriguez K (2021) Gene Expression Response to Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Transmission in *M. cavernosa* and *O. faveolata* from Florida. Front. Mar. Sci. 8:681563. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.681563

MacKnight N, Cobleigh K, Lasseigner D, Chaves-Fonnegra A, Gutting A, Dimos B, Antoine J, Fuess L, Ricci C, Butler C, Muller EM, Mydlarz LD, Brandt M. Microbial dysbiosis reflects disease resistance in divers coral species. Commun Biol 4, 679 (2021).

Williams SD, Walter CS and Muller EM (2021) Fine Scale Temporal and Spatial Dynamics of the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease Outbreak Within the Lower Florida Keys. Front. Mar. Sci. 8:631776. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.631776

Meiling SS, Muller EM, Lasseigne D, Rossin A, Veglia AJ, MacKnight N, Dimos B, Huntley N, Correa AMS, Smith TB, Holstein DM, Mydlarz LD, Apprill A, Brandt, ME. Variable Species Responses to Experimental Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) Exposure (2021). Front. Mar. Sci. 8:670829. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.670829

Meiling S, Muller EM, Smith TB and Brandt ME (2020) 3D Photogrammetry Reveals Dynamics of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) Lesion Progression Across a Thermal Stress Event. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:597643. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.597643

van Woesik R, Banister RB, Bartels E, Gillium DS, Goergen EA, Lustic C, Maxwell K, Moura A, Muller EM, Schopmeyer S, Winters RS, Lirman D (2020) Differential survival of nursery-reared *Acropora cervicornis* outplants along the Florida reef tract. doi: 10.1111/rec.13302

Sharp W, Shea CP, Maxwell KE, Muller EM, Hunt JH. (2020) Evaluating the small-scale epidemiology of the stony coral tissue loss disease in the middle Florida Keys. PLoS ONE. 15(11): e0241871.

Dobbelaere T, Muller EM, Gramer LJ, Holstein DM, Hanert E. (2020) Coupled epidemio-hydrodynamic modeling to understand the spread of a deadly coral disease in Florida. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:591881. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.591881

Klinges JG, Maher RL, Vega Thurber RL, Muller EM (2020) Parasitic “Candidatus Aquarickettsia rohweri” is a marker of disease susceptibility in *Acropora cervicornis* but is lost during thermal stress. Environmental Microbiology. doi:10.1111/1462-2920.15245

Rosales SM, Clark AS, Huebner LK., Ruzicka RR., Muller EM (2020). *Rhodobacterales* and *Rhizobiales* are associated with Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and its suspected sources of transmission. Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, 681.

Muller EM, Sartor C, Alcaraz N, van Woesik R (2020) Spatial epidemiology of stony-coral-tissue-loss disease in Florida. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:163. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.00163

Muller EM, Bartels E, Baums IB (2018) Bleaching causes loss of disease resistance within the threatened coral species *Acropora cervicornis*. eLife 7:e35066

Page CA, Muller EM, Vaughan DE (2018) Microfragmenting for the successful restoration of slow growing massive corals. Ecological Engineering 123: 86 – 94

Hall ER, Muller EM, Goulet T, Bellworthy J, Ritchie KB, Fine M (2018) Eutrophication may compromise the resilience of the Red Sea coral *Stylophora pistillata* to global change. Marine Pollution Bulletin 131: 701 – 711

Randall, CJ, Muller EM, Whitcher EM, Code T, Pollock C, Lundgren I, Hillis-Starr Z (2018) Testing methods to mitigate Caribbean yellow-band disease on *Orbicella faveolata*. PeerJ6: e4800; DOI 10.7717/peerj.4800

Morrow KM, Muller EM, Lesser MP (2018). How does the coral microbiome cause, respond to or modulate the bleaching process? In: van Oppen M, Lough J (eds) Coral Bleaching: Pattern, Processes, Causes and Consequences. 2nd Edition. Springer

Muller EM, Leporacci NM, Macartney KJ, Shea AG, Crane RE, Hall ER, Ritchie KB (2017). Low pH reduces the virulence of black band disease on *Orbicella faveolata*. PLoS ONE 12(6): e0178869

Muller EM, Fine M, Ritchie K (2016). The resilient microbiome of inter and sub-tidal anemone species under increasing pCO2. Sci. Rep. 6, 37387; doi: 10.1038/srep37387

Bright AJ, Brandt M, Muller EM, Smith T (2016) Disease prevalence and snail predation associated with swell-generated damage on the threatened coral, *Acropora palmata* (Lamarck). Frontiers in Marine Science. 3: 77

Randall CJ, Jordan-Garza AG, Muller EM, van Woesik R (2016) Does dark-spot syndrome experimentally transmit among Caribbean corals? PLoS ONE 11(1): e0147493. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147493

Muller EM, van Woesik R (2014) Genetic susceptibility, colony size, and water temperature drive white-pox disease on the coral *Acropora palmata*. PLoS ONE 9(11): e110759. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110759

Randall CJ, Jordan-Garza AG, Muller EM, van Woesik R (2014) Relationships between the history of thermal stress and the relative risk of diseases of Caribbean corals. Ecology 95: 1981-1994

Muller EM, Rogers CS, van Woesik R. (2014) Early signs of recovery of *Acropora palmata* in St. John, US Virgin Islands. Marine Biology 161:359-365

Roth L, Muller EM, van Woesik R (2013) Tracking *Acropora* fragmentation and population structure through thermal-stress events. Ecological Modelling 263:223-232.

Muller EM, Harvell CD, Willis BL, Haapkylä J, Raymundo LJ, Syafyudin Y, Wilson JR (2012). Coral health and disease in the Spermonde Archipelago and Wakatobi, Sulawesi. Journal of Indonesian Coral Reefs 1:147-159

Muller EM, van Woesik R. (2012) Caribbean coral diseases: primary transmission or secondary infection? Global Change Biology 18:3529-3535

Rogers CS, Muller EM (2012) Bleaching, disease and recovery in the threatened scleractinian coral *Acropora palmata* in St. John, US Virgin Islands: 2003-2010. Coral Reefs 31:807-819

Jordan-Garza AG, Muller EM, Burman SG, van Woesik R. (2010). Susceptibility of coral-disease models. PNAS (2011) 108:E110-E11

Muller EM, van Woesik R. (2010). Black-band disease dynamics: prevalence, incidence, and acclimatization of light. JEMBE 397:52-57

Eakin M, Morgan JA,…Muller EM et al. (2010). Caribbean Corals in Crisis: Record thermal stress, bleaching, and mortality in 2005. PLoS One 5(11): e13969. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013969

Reed K, Muller EM, van Woesik R. (2010). Coral immunology and resistance to disease. Dis Aquat Org 90:85-92

Rogers CS, Muller EM, Spitzack T, Miller J. (2009). Extensive coral mortality in the US Virgin Islands in 2005/2006: A review of the evidence for synergy among thermal stress, coral bleaching and disease. Car J of Sci. 45:204-214

Muller EM, van Woesik R. (2009). Shading reduces coral-disease progression. Coral Reefs. 28:757-760

Miller J, Muller EM, Rogers CS, et al. (2009). Coral disease following massive bleaching in 2005 causes 60% decline in coral cover on reefs in the US Virgin Islands (USVI). Coral Reefs 28:925-937

Muller EM, Rogers CS, Spitzack A, van Woesik R. (2008). Bleaching increases the likelihood of disease on *Acropora palmata* (Lamarck) at Hawksnest Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands; Coral Reefs 27:191-195

Rogers CS, Miller J, Muller EM, et al. (2008). Ecology of Coral Reefs in the US Virgin Islands. Chapter 8. In: Riegl B, Dodge RE (eds). Coral Reefs of the USA. Springer. pgs 303-374.

Miller J, Waara R, Muller E, Rogers C. (2006). Coral bleaching and disease combine to cause extensive mortality on reefs in US Virgin Islands. Coral Reefs 25:41

Awards & Honors

Mote Eminent Scholar (2020 – present)
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Research Representative (2020 – present)
Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (2019)
Coral Save Animals from Extinctions (SAFE) AZA advisory member (2018 – present)
FL DEP Disease Advisory Council Restoration Trials Team co-Lead (2018 – present)
Member of the Acropora Recovery Implementation Team organized by NOAA (2017-present)
Science Advisor, Scubanauts International, Sarasota Chapter (2017-2021)
International Coral Reef Society, Treasurer (2017-2020)
International Coral Reef Society, Young Scientist of the Year Award (2015)
International Coral Reef Society, Council Member (2013 – 2017)
Mote Marine Laboratory Postdoctoral Fellowship (2012 – 2014)
Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship, NOAA (2008-2012)
Recipient of AAAS/Science Program for Excellence (2006)
LOCAP 10th ICRS Travel Fellowship (2004)