Marine Biophysics (Mitarai) Unit

An Overview of the Marine Biophysics Unit

The Marine Biophysics Unit (MBU) investigates biological processes in the ocean at varying spatial scales, from micrometers for microbes to thousands of kilometers for biogeographic events, by incorporating physical, mathematical, and biological/genetic approaches. The physical oceanographic resources and expertise at the MBU, coupled with tools in marine biology, molecular biology, and paleontology, provide a unique laboratory system for studying marine biological processes, influenced by powerful disturbances (e.g., typhoons) and climatic forcings (e.g., global warming). The MBU was established at OIST in 2009, because of Okinawa’s ideal geographic position and access to the outstanding research resources of OIST.

Okinawa’s beautiful coral reefs lie at the northern boundary of the region with high marine biodiversity, exposed to large seasonal variations in water temperature and strong disturbances created by typhoons. Okinawa is located close to hydrothermal vent fields that support ecosystems of endemic species that do not depend on photosynthesis. It is also situated in “Typhoon Alley”, the region with the most frequent and fully-developed tropical cyclones on Earth. The MBU takes advantage of these natural resources to study how marine ecosystems work.

Okinawa is home to many rare species that live in unique ecosystems. In 2021, a chain of islands in Southwestern Japan, including some parts of Okinawa, were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. By quantifying physical and biological processes in the ocean, we contribute to protecting them from human-induced changes that could otherwise lead to the collapse of these vulnerable ecosystems in Okinawa and the loss of rare species.

Satoshi Mitarai

The primary objective of Professor Mitarai’s research is to understand the role of ocean turbulence in regulating biological processes and its consequences for population structure and dynamics of marine ecosystems, through international collaborations. These studies include investigations of larval dispersal via coastal eddies and the role of dispersal in structuring marine populations, understanding biological responses of corals to turbulent flows and their integrated effects on biogeochemical cycling, and impacts of tropical cyclones on particle aggregation and biological pumps. Using his skills and experience as a fluid dynamicist, Professor Mitarai contributes to a new interdisciplinary field in the marine sciences.

Ph.D., University of Washington, 2004.  (Postdoc, University of California, Santa Barbara)

Membership of the Marine Biophysics Unit

The MBU will be accepting students for Academic Year 2022 and beyond, depending on the progress of Ph.D. students in the unit. OIST students spend their first year on coursework and research rotations before being assigned to a research unit. Students will discuss potential Ph.D. projects with prospective supervisors toward the end of their first year. The MBU is not accepting internship students or visiting scholars at this moment. More information can be found via these links.

Thanks to generous subsidy funding at OIST, the MBU can support 2 or 3 students, depending on student progress in the unit, and 2 postdocs. More postdocs will be accepted when external funding is available. Students who are interested in topics beyond Professor Mitarai’s expertise may be accepted if an external expert agrees to serve officially as a co-supervisor of the student’s Ph.D. research. 

The MBU supports students and postdocs with a variety of backgrounds; however, fluid dynamics and physical oceanography are fundamental to all of the Unit’s research. In particular, MBU welcomes students and postdocs who are interested in employing physical and mathematical approaches to understand marine biological systems. 

Prospective students are encouraged to take the OIST Earth System course (A224), and to read the following books, to acquire basic concepts necessary for research in the MBU.

Students and postdocs are expected to have the intellectual curiosity, capacity, and motivation to design and execute research on their own initiative, with guidance and assistance from supervisors, advisors, peers, and collaborators.

Ongoing Projects Supported by OIST Subsidy Funding

Larval Dispersal and Connectivity of Marine Populations

Quantification of marine population connectivity is key to understanding global and longer-term changes of marine ecosystems. Our primary approach is i) to quantify dispersal probabilities of marine species in order to learn how far larvae travel and how quickly and effectively they colonize new sites, and ii) to test these predictions of dispersal with recruitment and population genetic data that define the biogeographic characteristics of selected marine species. By quantifying dispersal patterns, we hope to contribute to marine conservation planning. That is, by optimizing design of marine protected areas, we may be able to help prevent the collapse of vulnerable ecosystems globally.

Read more on Hakai Magazine

Connectivity of hydrothermal vent sites in the Western Pacific Ocean

Q1. What mechanisms drive biogeography of hydrothermal vent species in the Western Pacific Ocean? To what extent can we account for their distributions by ocean circulation?

Q2. By applying cutting-edge network analyses on the best available species distribution data, can we develop new perspectives about the importance of specific vent sites in connecting deep-sea populations? How much data do we need to achieve robust analyses? Will the predictions differ much depending on data quality or methods?

Q3. Where in the water column do larvae of hydrothermal vent species disperse? Can we infer dispersal depths of selected vent species from potential dispersal scenarios and their biogeographic characteristics?

Otis Brunner

Connectivity of mangrove populations in the Ryukyu Archipelago

  • Lead researcher: Maki Thomas (Student)
  • Supervisor: Satoshi Mitarai

Q1. Can a chain of islands serve as stepping stones to enable gene flow, over thousands of kilometers that potentially bridges both sides of the Pacific Ocean, as hypothesized by ocean circulation models? What can we learn from population genetics of mangroves along the Ryukyu Archipelago?

Q2. Do limited suitable habitats of mangroves create more distinctive population structures than for other marine species, such as corals? If so, what are the characteristic length scales representing the spatial extent of genetically well-mixed populations of mangroves and corals?

Q3. What can we learn from network analyses of mangrove species distributions? Do network analyses suggest that island chains are critical for long-distance dispersal and range expansion of mangrove species?

Connectivity of Okinawan coral reefs in the past and present

Q1. How much of present-day coral biodiversity in East and Southeast Asia can be explained by estimated paleo ocean circulation?

Q2. How has potential connectivity from the Coral Triangle to Okinawa changed since the Last Glacial Maximum? Can we validate estimated dispersal patterns with past ocean temperatures reconstructed from sediment records?

Biological Responses to Flows: Flume Experiments & Observations

Biological responses to the changing physical oceanographic environment can have significant consequences for biogeochemical cycling. We study biological responses of sessile marine animals (e.g., corals and garden eels) to ocean turbulence at individual scales, and quantify their integrated effects on biogeochemical processes at reef scales. We combine ocean observations and flume experiments of living organisms so that we can better understand effects of actual flows on biology (causality). We engage in new projects with support from our collaborators, with expertise in physical, biological and chemical studies of coral reefs.

Effects of oceanic turbulence on production of organic matter by corals

Q1. How does turbulent mixing in the ocean affect production of organic matter by corals? Do they substantially modify water properties in coral reefs? If so, how do bacterial communities react to the changes?

Q2. Similarly, how is nutrient uptake by corals affected by flows and other water properties? Do nutrient concentrations in the ocean vary significantly, depending on the volume of water flowing through coral reefs? What happens in negligible flows?

Q3. Is coral morphology optimized to local flow environments? Is there an optimum turbulence level to maximize coral growth?

Effects of prey density and flow speed on plankton feeding by garden eels

Q1. How do flow speed and fluctuations of turbulence affect feeding rates and feeding behavior of garden eels and swimming reef fish?

Q2. In terms of metabolism, what are optimal ranges of flows for garden eels and swimming reef fish? Do these optimal ranges characterize their habitats? How do morphology and behavior of reef species enable them to adapt to flow conditions?

Q3. Can garden eels adapt to environments to which they are unaccustomed? Can they feed well in non-uniform flows (oscillatory flows with periods of seconds)?

Marine Systems of the Ryukyus

The primary objective of this project is to understand the influence of regional oceanography on marine life around the Ryukyu Islands, e.g., stress responses of Okinawan corals, distributions of microbial communities in the Okinawan coral reefs and around hydrothermal vents, and impacts of typhoons and tsunamis on local ocean physics and marine ecosystems. In addition to studying local marine systems, members of the MBU are actively engaging with the public to introduce them to these systems through laboratory demonstrations, classroom activities, and guided fieldwork.

Coral polyp bail-out and resettlement

  • Lead researcher: Po-Shun Chuang (Junior Research Fellow)
  • Supervisor: Satoshi Mitarai

Q1. How do coral microbiomes change during polyp bail-out and recovery? What functions do bacteria serve in determining post-bail-out polyp morphology? How do physical/chemical environmental factors affect bacterial community changes and polyp recovery?

Q2. How do coral polyps modulate ciliary movement to optimize molecular exchanges? Does ciliary movement depend on intrinsic (ex. inter-polyp communication) or extrinsic (ex. thermal stresses) factors?

Q3. Does polyp bail-out and resettlement of corals naturally occur in the ocean, or is this a phenomenon induced by global warming? If so, how frequent is it? How can we distinguish larval settlement from polyp resettlement?

Cadmium and copper resistance strategies in deep sea epsilonproteobacteria

  • Lead researcher: Angela Ares Pita (Postdoc)
  • Supervisors: Takuro Nunoura, Satoshi Mitarai

Q1. What are the general and metal-specific transcriptomic responses to Cd and Cu stress in the epsilonproteobacterium, Nitratiruptor sp. SB155-2?

Q2. How do morphological adaptations control metal efflux and sequestration systems in response to Cd and Cu stress? 

Q3. How do intracellular polyphosphate granules contribute to metal resistance?

Ongoing Externally-funded Projects

Impacts of Extreme Weather on Carbon Cycle

Organic and inorganic carbon that is produced, transported, and decomposed in the upper ocean is essential to drive the global carbon cycle, on which life on Earth depends. We investigate upper-ocean processes, with a focus on variability rather than on climatology, in response to disturbances and climate forcings. We deploy autonomous ocean-observing platforms (e.g., Liquid Robotics, Wave Glider) with a suite of sensors, in order to understand key biophysical processes, even under extreme weather conditions (e.g., tropical cyclones). Combined with general circulation models, we strive to formulate better estimates of upper-ocean contributions to the global carbon cycle in the changing environment. 

Microbes in the storm: tiny sentinels of coastal health

  • Lead researcher: Angela Ares Pita (Postdoc)
  • Supervisor: Satoshi Mitarai
  • Collaborators: Filip Husnik
  • Funding: JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Early-Career Scientist (¥3,380,000 for FY2020–2022)

Q1. How do prokaryote populations and micronutrient levels vary in Okinawa nearshore areas with different land uses? How is this variability influenced by hydrological regimes?

Q2. What environmental risks do different land uses pose, particularly in view of the frequency of typhoons?

Read more on Microbiologist (p. 36)

Interactions between particles and microbes in seawater

  • Lead researcher: Yosuke Yamada (Postdoc)
  • Supervisor: Satoshi Mitarai
  • Collaborators: Farooq Azam, Toshi Nagata, Hideki Fukuda
  • Funding: JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Early-Career Scientists (¥4,160,000 for FY2020–2022)
  • Funding: Sasakawa Scientific Research Grant, Japan Science Society (¥960,000 for FY2021)
  • Funding: JST FOREST program (¥20,000,000 for FY2021–2023)
  • Funding: Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) (Co-Investigator; ¥700,000 for FY2021–2023)

Q1. How do bacterial cell wall characteristics affect carbon acquisition and nanoparticle attachment in seawater? 

Q2. Can model particles be used to quantify particle aggregation in seawater?  What physical factors explain the occurrence of “marine snow” and how can these be reproduced in lab experiments?

Wave Glider observations of extreme weather

  • Lead researcher: To be assigned
  • Supervisor: Satoshi Mitarai
  • Collaborators: To be disclosed later
  • Funding: To be disclosed later

Q1. What contributions do typhoons and other extreme weather make to biogeochemical cycles, such as organic carbon export to the deep sea (biological pumps)?

Q2. How do air-sea interactions (e.g., entrainment of air bubbles) occur in the center of fully-developed typhoons and how do they impact biological processes?

Read more on Science News by American Geophysical Union

Outreach Activities

Collaboration with the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters

  • Participants from OIST: Satoshi Mitarai, Akinori Murata, Kazumi Inoha
  • Term: March 27, 2012 to March 31, 2015 
  • Term: April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2018 
  • Term: April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2021 
  • Term: April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2024
  • Project 1. Improvement of drift prediction accuracy
  • Project 2. Sophistication of ocean tide models and ocean current simulations
  • Project 3. Development of a rip-current forecast system in the sea around Okinawa

See tidal current predictions around the Kerama Islands.

 

Technical Support

Three technicians support the MBU’s research activities by providing technical assistance, including field support, maintenance of lab/field equipment, and management of past data/samples and products.

Field support, maintenance of field equipment

 

 

Maintenance of lab equipment, management of past data/samples and products

  • Technician: To be hired
  • Products:

Research administration 

  • Research Unit Administrator: Tomoko Yoshino
  • Procurement (research equipment, consumables, outsourcing)
  • Travel and meeting arrangements (students, postdocs, professors, visitors)
  • Record keeping (budget, equipment, training, health checkups, publications)
  • Serving as a contact point (recruitment, fieldwork, etc.)

Past Projects and Publications

Larval Dispersal and Connectivity of Marine Populations

Quantification of marine population connectivity is key to understanding global and longer-term changes of marine ecosystems. Our primary approach is i) to quantify dispersal probabilities of marine species in order to learn how far larvae travel and how quickly and effectively they colonize new sites, and ii) to test these predictions of dispersal with recruitment and population genetic data that define the biogeographic characteristics of selected marine species. By quantifying dispersal patterns, we hope to contribute to marine conservation planning. That is, by optimizing design of marine protected areas, we may be able to help prevent the collapse of vulnerable ecosystems globally.

Read more on SDGs at OIST

Publications (Larval dispersal)

  1. Takeda, N., Kashima, M., Odani, S., Uchiyama, Y., Kamidaira, Y., & Mitarai, S. (2021). Identification of coral spawn source areas around Sekisei Lagoon for recovery and poleward habitat migration by using a particle-tracking model. Scientific Reports. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-86167-5
  2. Vogt‐Vincent, N. S., & Mitarai, S. (2020). A Persistent Kuroshio in the Glacial East China Sea and Implications for Coral Paleobiogeography. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020PA003902
  3. Uchiyama, Y., Odani, S., Kashima, M., Kamidaira, Y., & Mitarai, S. (2018). Influences of the Kuroshio on Interisland Remote Connectivity of Corals Across the Nansei Archipelago in the East China Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research, Oceans. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JC014017 
  4. Monismith, S. G., Barkdull, M. K., Nunome, Y., & Mitarai, S. (2018). Transport Between Palau and the Eastern Coral Triangle: Larval Connectivity or Near Misses. Geophysical Research Letters. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL077493
  5. Mullineaux, L. S., Metaxas, A., Beaulieu, S. E., Bright, M., Gollner, S., Grupe, B. M., Herrera, S., Kellner, J. B., Levin, L. A., Mitarai, S., Neubert, M. G., Thurnherr, A. M., Tunnicliffe, V., Watanabe, H. K., & Won, Y.-J. (2018). Exploring the Ecology of Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents in a Metacommunity Framework. Frontiers in Marine Science. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00049
  6. Kamidaira, Y., Uchiyama, Y., & Mitarai, S. (2017). Eddy-induced transport of the Kuroshio warm water around the Ryukyu Islands in the East China Sea. Continental Shelf Research. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2016.07.004
  7. Watanabe, H., Yahagi, T., Nagai, Y., Seo, M. H., Kojima, S., Ishibashi, J. I., Yamamoto, H., Fujikura, K., Mitarai, S., & Toyofuku, T. (2016). Different thermal preferences for brooding and larval dispersal of two neighboring shrimps in deep-sea hydrothermal vent fields. Marine Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/maec.12318
  8. Mitarai, S., Watanabe, H., Nakajima, Y., Shchepetkin, A. F., & McWilliams, J. C. (2016). Quantifying dispersal from hydrothermal vent fields in the western Pacific Ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1518395113
  9. Nakamura, M., Chen, C., & Mitarai, S. (2015). Insights into life-history traits of Munidopsis spp. (Anomura: Munidopsidae) from hydrothermal vent fields in the Okinawa Trough, in comparison with the existing data. Deep-Sea Research. Part I, Oceanographic Research Papers. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2015.02.007
  10. Nakamura, M., Watanabe, H., Sasaki, T., Ishibashi, J., Fujikura, K., & Mitarai, S. (2014). Life history traits of Lepetodrilus nux in the Okinawa Trough, based upon gametogenesis, shell size, and genetic variability. Marine Ecology Progress Series. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10779
  11. Harrison, C. S., Siegel, D. A., & Mitarai, S. (2013). Filamentation and eddy-eddy interactions in marine larval accumulation and transport. Marine Ecology Progress Series. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10061
  12. Watson, J. R., Kendall, B. E., Siegel, D. A., & Mitarai, S. (2012). Changing seascapes, stochastic connectivity, and marine metapopulation dynamics. The American Naturalist. https://doi.org/10.1086/665992
  13. Watson, J. R., Hays, C. G., Raimondi, P. T., Mitarai, S., Dong, C., McWilliams, J. C., Blanchette, C. A., Casselle, J. E., & Siegel, D. A. (2011). Currents connecting communities: nearshore community similarity and ocean circulation. Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1890/10-1436.1
  14. Watson, J. R., Mitarai, S., Siegel, D. A., Caselle, J. E., Dong, C., & McWilliams, J. C. (2010). Realized and potential larval connectivity in the southern California bight. Marine Ecology Progress Series. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08376
  15. Berkley, H. A., Kendall, B. E., Mitarai, S., & Siegel, D. A. (2010). Turbulent dispersal promotes species coexistence. Ecology Letters. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01427.x
  16. Ohlmann, J. C., & Mitarai, S. (2010). Lagrangian assessment of simulated surface current dispersion in the coastal ocean. Geophysical Research Letters. https://doi.org/10.1029/2010GL044436

Publications (Recruitment)

  1. Nakamura, M., Nomura, K., Hirabayashi, I., Nakajima, Y., Nakajima, T., Mitarai, S., & Yokochi, H. (2021). Management of scleractinian coral assemblages in temperate non-reefal areas: insights from a long-term monitoring study in Kushimoto, Japan (33°N). Marine Biology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-021-03948-2
  2. Nakajima, Y., Chuang, P.-S., Ueda, N., & Mitarai, S. (2018). First evidence of asexual recruitment of Pocillopora acuta in Okinawa Island using genotypic identification. PeerJ. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5915 
  3. Nakamura, M., Nakajima, Y., Watanabe, H. K., Sasaki, T., Yamamoto, H., & Mitarai, S. (2018). Spatial variability in recruitment of benthos near drilling sites in the Iheya North hydrothermal field in the Okinawa Trough. Deep Sea Research Part I. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2018.03.009
  4. Nakamura, M., Okaji, K., Higa, Y., Yamakawa, E., & Mitarai, S. (2014). Spatial and temporal population dynamics of the crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, over a 24-year period along the central west coast of Okinawa Island, Japan. Marine Biology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-014-2524-5

Publications (Population genetics)

  1. Wepfer, P. H., Nakajima, Y., Sutthacheep, M., Radice, V. Z., Richards, Z., Ang, P., Terraneo, T., Sudek, M., Fujimura, A., Toonen, R. J., Mikheyev, A. S., Economo, E. P., & Mitarai, S. (2020). Evolutionary biogeography of the reef-building coral genus Galaxea across the Indo-Pacific ocean. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2020.106905
  2. Nakajima, Y., Shinzato, C., Khalturina, M., Nakamura, M., Watanabe, H. K., Nakagawa, S., Satoh, N., & Mitarai, S. (2017). Isolation and characterization of novel polymorphic microsatellite loci for the deep-sea hydrothermal vent limpet, Lepetodrilus nux, and the vent-associated squat lobster, Shinkaia crosnieri. Marine Biodiversity. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12526-017-0704-5
  3. Nakajima, Y., Nishikawa, A., Iguchi, A., Nagata, T., Uyeno, D., Sakai, K., & Mitarai, S. (2017). Elucidating the multiple genetic lineages and population genetic structure of the brooding coral Seriatopora (Scleractinia: Pocilloporidae) in the Ryukyu Archipelago. Coral Reefs. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-017-1557-x
  4. Nakajima, Y., Wepfer, P. H., Suzuki, S., Zayasu, Y., Shinzato, C., Satoh, N., & Mitarai, S. (2017). Microsatellite markers for multiple Pocillopora genetic lineages offer new insights about coral populations. Scientific Reports. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-06776-x
  5. Nakajima, Y., Zayasu, Y., Shinzato, C., Satoh, N., & Mitarai, S. (2016). Genetic differentiation and connectivity of morphological types of the broadcast-spawning coral Galaxea fascicularis in the Nansei Islands, Japan. Ecology and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.1981 
  6. Nakajima, Y., Shinzato, C., Satoh, N., & Mitarai, S. (2015). Novel polymorphic microsatellite markers reveal genetic differentiation between two sympatric types of Galaxea fascicularis. PloS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0130176
  7. Nakajima, Y., Shinzato, C., Khalturina, M., Watanabe, H., Inagaki, F., Satoh, N., & Mitarai, S. (2014). Cross-species, amplifiable microsatellite markers for neoverrucid barnacles from deep-sea hydrothermal vents developed using next-generation sequencing. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms150814364
  8. Alberto, F., Raimondi, P. T., Reed, D. C., Watson, J. R., Siegel, D. A., Mitarai, S., Coelho, N., & Serrão, E. A. (2011). Isolation by oceanographic distance explains genetic structure for Macrocystis pyrifera in the Santa Barbara Channel. Molecular Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294x.2011.05117.x
  9. Selkoe, K. A., Watson, J. R., White, C., Horin, T. B., Iacchei, M., Mitarai, S., Siegel, D. A., Gaines, S. D., & Toonen, R. J. (2010). Taking the chaos out of genetic patchiness: seascape genetics reveals ecological and oceanographic drivers of genetic patterns in three temperate reef species. Molecular Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04658.x

Publications (Management)

  1. White, J. W., Scholz, A. J., Rassweiler, A., Steinback, C., Botsford, L. W., Kruse, S., Costello, C., Mitarai, S., Siegel, D. A., Drake, P. T., & Edwards, C. A. (2013). A comparison of approaches used for economic analysis in marine protected area network planning in California. Ocean and Coastal Management. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2012.06.006
  2. Watson, J. R., Siegel, D. A., Kendall, B. E., Mitarai, S., Rassweiller, A., & Gaines, S. D. (2011). Identifying critical regions in small-world marine metapopulations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1111461108

Global Biogeography in a Changing Environment

Partnerships with international collaborators are essential to address global-scale marine ecological issues. The MBU has been promoting global partnerships, including 5 OIST international workshops in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016, and 2019, to address marine ecological problems in the changing global environment, especially in this era of anthropogenic climate change. Topics covered by past workshops have included global changes of coral recruitment patterns, changing population connectivity among coral reef islands, and international study of connectivity between hydrothermal vents. Together with our collaborators, we intend to quantify the influence of climate change on coral-reef and deep-sea hydrothermal-vent ecosystems.

Read more on SDGs at OIST

Publications (OIST workshops)

  1. Price, N. N., Muko, S., Legendre, L., Steneck, R., van Oppen, M. J. H., Albright, R., Ang, P., Jr, Carpenter, R. C., Chui, A. P. Y., Fan, T. Y., Gates, R. D., Harii, S., Kitano, H., Kurihara, H., Mitarai, S., Padilla-Gamiño, J. L., Sakai, K., Suzuki, G., & Edmunds, P. J. (2019). Global biogeography of coral recruitment: tropical decline and subtropical increase. Marine Ecology Progress Series. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12980
  2. Edmunds, P. J., McIlroy, S. E., Adjeroud, M., Ang, P., Bergman, J. L., Carpenter, R. C., Coffroth, M. A., Fujimura, A. G., Hench, J. L., Holbrook, S. J., Leichter, J. J., Muko, S., Nakajima, Y., Nakamura, M., Paris, C. B., Schmitt, R. J., Sutthacheep, M., Toonen, R. J., Sakai, K., … Mitarai, S. (2018). Critical Information Gaps Impeding Understanding of the Role of Larval Connectivity Among Coral Reef Islands in an Era of Global Change. Frontiers in Marine Science. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00290
  3. Edmunds, P. J., Steneck, R., Albright, R., Carpenter, R. C., Chui, A. P. Y., Fan, T. Y., Harii, S., Kitano, H., Kurihara, H., Legendre, L., Mitarai, S., Muko, S., Nozawa, Y., Padilla-Gamino, J., Price, N. N., Sakai, K., Suzuki, G., Van Oppen, M. J. H., Yarid, A., & Gates, R. D. (2015). Geographic variation in long-term trajectories of change in coral recruitment: A global-to-local perspective. Marine and Freshwater Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF14139

Publications (Other workshops)

  1. Levin, L. A., Wei, C.-L., Dunn, D. C., Amon, D. J., Ashford, O. S., Cheung, W. W. L., Colaço, A., Dominguez-Carrió, C., Escobar, E. G., Harden-Davies, H. R., Drazen, J. C., Ismail, K., Jones, D. O. B., Johnson, D. E., Le, J. T., Lejzerowicz, F., Mitarai, S., Morato, T., Mulsow, S., … Yasuhara, M. (2020). Climate change considerations are fundamental to management of deep-sea resource extraction. Global Change Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15223
  2. Guest, J. R., Edmunds, P. J., Gates, R. D., Kuffner, I. B., Andersson, A. J., Barnes, B. B., Chollett, I., Courtney, T. A., Elahi, R., Gross, K., Lenz, E. A., Mitarai, S., Mumby, P. J., Nelson, H. R., Parker, B. A., Putnam, H. M., Rogers, C. S., & Toth, L. T. (2018). A framework for identifying and characterising coral reef “oases” against a backdrop of degradation. The Journal of Applied Ecology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00290

Marine Systems of the Ryukyus

The primary objective of this project is to understand the influence of regional oceanography on marine life around the Ryukyu Islands, e.g., stress responses of Okinawan corals, distributions of microbial communities in the Okinawan coral reefs and around hydrothermal vents, and impacts of typhoons and tsunamis on local ocean physics and marine ecosystems. In addition to studying local marine systems, members of the MBU are actively engaging with the public to introduce them to these systems through laboratory demonstrations, classroom activities, and guided fieldwork.

Read more on SDGs at OIST

Publications (Polyp bail-out and coral coloniality)

  1. Chuang, P.-S., & Mitarai, S. (2021). Genetic changes involving the coral gastrovascular system support the transition between colonies and bailed-out polyps: evidence from a Pocillopora acuta transcriptome. BMC Genomics. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-021-08026-x
  2. Chuang, P.-S., Ishikawa, K., & Mitarai, S. (2021). Morphological and genetic recovery of coral polyps after bail-out. Frontiers in Marine Science. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.609287
  3. Chuang, P.-S., & Mitarai, S. (2020). Signaling pathways in the coral polyp bail-out response. Coral Reefs. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-020-01983-x

Publications (Acantharea-phaeocystis photosymbioses)

  1. Uwizeye, C., Mars Brisbin, M., Gallet, B., Chevalier, F., LeKieffre, C., Schieber, N. L., Falconet, D., Wangpraseurt, D., Schertel, L., Stryhanyuk, H., Musat, N., Mitarai, S., Schwab, Y., Finazzi, G., & Decelle, J. (2021). Cytoklepty in the plankton: A host strategy to optimize the bioenergetic machinery of endosymbiotic algae. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2025252118
  2. Mars Brisbin, M., Conover, A. E., & Mitarai, S. (2020). Influence of Regional Oceanography and Hydrothermal Activity on Protist Diversity and Community Structure in the Okinawa Trough. Microbial Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-020-01583-w
  3. Mars Brisbin, M., Brunner, O. D., Grossmann, M. M., & Mitarai, S. (2020). Paired high-throughput, in situ imaging and high-throughput sequencing illuminate acantharian abundance and vertical distribution. Limnology and Oceanography. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11567
  4. Mars Brisbin, M., & Mitarai, S. (2019). Differential Gene Expression Supports a Resource-Intensive, Defensive Role for Colony Production in the Bloom-Forming Haptophyte, Phaeocystis globosa. The Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeu.12727
  5. Mars Brisbin, M., Mesrop, L. Y., Grossmann, M. M., & Mitarai, S. (2018). Intra-host symbiont diversity and extended symbiont maintenance in photosymbiotic Acantharea (clade F). Frontiers in Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01998

Publications (Reefs influence on tsunami flooding)

  1. Le Gal, M., & Mitarai, S. (2020). Reef influence quantification in light of the 1771 Meiwa tsunami. Ocean & Coastal Management. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2020.105248

Publications (Metacommunity ecology of Symbiodiniaceae)

  1. Wepfer, P. H., Nakajima, Y., Hui, F. K. C., Mitarai, S., & Economo, E. P. (2020). Metacommunity ecology of Symbiodiniaceae hosted by the coral Galaxea fascicularis. Marine Ecology Progress Series. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13177

Publications (Stress response of corals)

  1. Nakamura, M., Morita, M., Kurihara, H., & Mitarai, S. (2012). Expression of hsp70, hsp90 and hsf1 in the reef coral Acropora digitifera under prospective acidified conditions over the next several decades. Biology Open. https://doi.org/10.1242/bio.2011036

Impacts of Extreme Weather on Carbon Cycle

Organic and inorganic carbon that is produced, transported, and decomposed in the upper ocean is essential to drive the global carbon cycle, on which life on Earth depends. We investigate upper-ocean processes, with a focus on variability rather than on climatology, in response to disturbances and climate forcings. We deploy autonomous ocean-observing platforms (e.g., Liquid Robotics, Wave Glider) with a suite of sensors, in order to understand key biophysical processes, even under extreme weather conditions (e.g., tropical cyclones). Combined with general circulation models, we strive to formulate better estimates of upper-ocean contributions to the global carbon cycle in the changing environment. 

Read more on SDGs at OIST

Publications (Impacts of typhoons)

  1. Ares, Á., Brisbin, M. M., Sato, K. N., Martín, J. P., Iinuma, Y., & Mitarai, S. (2020). Extreme storms cause rapid but short‐lived shifts in nearshore subtropical bacterial communities. Environmental Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.15178
  2. Mitarai, S., & McWilliams, J. C. (2016). Wave glider observations of surface winds and currents in the core of Typhoon Danas. Geophysical Research Letters. https://doi.org/10.1002/2016GL071115
  3. Grossmann, M. M., Gallager, S. M., & Mitarai, S. (2015). Continuous monitoring of near-bottom mesoplankton communities in the East China Sea during a series of typhoons. Journal of Oceanography. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10872-014-0268-y

 

Latest Posts

  • MBU Lunch

    We celebrated Bob's successful Ph.D. thesis exam presentation last night, and also welcomed Kimika Takeyasu (internship student from Kobe University).  

    October 22, 2021, at Blue entrance kitchen

  • SoKa Project 2020 → For better bathymetry grids

    Understanding the dynamics and circulation of oceans is quite a challenge while having tremendous impact on global and local environment. There exists multiple ways to approach it: from buoy releases to numerical modeling. However, whatever the method chosen, the knowledge of the bathymetry (seafloor elevation) is a keystone of the process.

  • How do typhoons affect microbes?

    MBU members study the impact typhoons have on coastal microbial communities through 'Red soil' runoff. Using in-situ sampling either side of powerful typhoon events and mesocosm experiments, the authors of this study have made some concerning discoveries.