SYMBIOSES that we work on include:

the coral Plesiastrea versipora which is found in both temperate and tropical regions of the Indo-Pacific. It grows locally in Sydney Harbour. We have also found that it can live in very shallow rock pools which only receive fresh seawater at very high tides.

These corals are growing in a shallow rock pool on the south coast of N.S.W.


and the soft-bodied cnidarian, the zoanthid, Zoanthus robustus (photograph, courtesy of Alex Venn). Zoanthids live in colonies of several hundred animals.

Both these symbioses are useful models for study as they can be maintained in a laboratory environment. We have developed methods which avoid sacrificing them for our experiments.


The tropical symbiotic sponge that we work with is Haliclona cymiformis which lives in symbiosis with a macro red alga, Ceratodictyon spongiosum.


Haliclona cymiformis at the University field Station on One Tree Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, photo Donelle Trautman


P. versipora has blue and green colour morphs which fuse together. This photograph was taken in a shallow water cave on the South Coast of N.S.W. which only receives sunlight for about an hour after sunrise.