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Sunday, 09 September 2018 18:48

Coral Reefs in Crisis! A Discussion with Rebecca Vega-Thurber

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Vega-Thurber - SCUBA

The magnificent coral reefs of the world are dying!  These fantastic underwater living structures that support entire ecosystems are undergoing massive die-offs that have decimated coral reefs all over the globe.

Tropical coral reefs rely on a symbiosis between the coral polyp and a photosynthetic algae, and when this symbiosis is disrupted, the coral reef undergoes “bleaching” and ultimately dies.   Dr. Rebecca Vega-Thurber is an Associate Professor at Oregon State University who has devoted her research career to studying coral reefs.   

Dr. Vega-Thurber talks about how climate change is driving the death of coral reefs, how the bacteria and viruses associated with the reef influence its health, some ideas on how to try and protect the reefs from further destruction such as the development of “super corals”, and how she stays optimistic despite seeing the death of coral reefs first-hand.

microTalk recorded this discussion with Dr. Vega-Thurber at the American Society for Microbiology Microbe 2018 meeting in Atlanta Georgia, and were pleased to be joined by ASM’s Meet the Microbiologist host Julie Wolf.    

The microCase for listeners to solve is about Tony Voyage, an aging but surprisingly youthful action movie star who gets a mysterious illness after spending time in his trailer on set.


  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Rebecca Vega-Thurber, Ph.D. (Oregon State University)
  • Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Jesus Romo (UTSA)
  • Julie Wolf, Ph.D. (ASM, Meet the Microbiologist)

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Last modified on Wednesday, 12 September 2018 09:31
Karl Klose

Karl Klose, Ph.D. is a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Texas San Antonio, the Director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID), and host of microTalk. He oversees the research on infectious diseases that is carried out in his laboratory by undergraduate, Masters’, and Ph.D. students, as well as research staff. He also teaches microbiology to undergraduate and graduate students.

Karl is enthusiastic about enlightening people to the fascinating world of microbes.  He has given two TED talks on antibiotic resistance. He has been a visiting professor in Kolkata India and Valparaiso Chile.  He has spent the past two years visiting ASM branch meetings through the Distinguished Lecturer program.  You can find Karl on Twitter and you can find STCEID on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.