Ph. D., University of Maine, Zoology, 1989
M.S., University of New Hampshire, Microbiology, 1985
B.A., University of New Hampshire, Microbiology, Minor: Zoology, 1983
A.S. George Washington University, Medical Laboratory Science, 1977
Biological Oceanography, Physiological Ecology, Marine Biology, Marine Microbiology, General Microbiology, Immunology, Biology and Ecology of Coral Reefs
Current Research Interests
My principal focus involve understanding how taxonomically diverse marine organisms respond physiologically to changes in their environment. In particular I'm interested in how organismal physiology can influence the ecology of marine organisms. As a physiological ecologist my students and I answer these types of questions by utilizing field and laboratory experiments, as well as a wide range of techniques from molecular biology to in situ measurements. Currently my research encompasses four major areas;
1) Biochemistry and molecular genetics of oxidative stress in marine organisms associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation, elevated temperatures, or hyperoxic conditions.
2) Physiological ecology of marine invertebrates and phytoplankton, physiological responses to changes in the environment, bacterial- and algal-invertebrate symbioses, and the trophic biology of suspension-feeding invertebrates.
3) Ecology and photobiology of mesophotic coral reefs.
4) Underwater technology, use of technical diving for scientific research.
Lesser MP. Using Energetic Budgets to Assess the Effects of Environmental Stress on Corals: Are We Measuring the Right Things? Coral Reefs, 32: 25-33, 2013.
Brazeau, D., M. P. Lesser, and M. Slattery. Genome-wide Sampling of Genetic Structure in the Coral, Montastraea cavernosa: Assessing Population Connectivity Among Mesophotic Reefs. PLoS ONE, 8(5): e65845, 2013.
Lesser, M. P., Stat, M., and R. D. Gates. The Endosymbiotic Dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium sp.) of Corals Are Parasites and Mutualists. Coral Reefs, 32: 603-611, 2013.
Fiore, C. L., Baker, D. M., and M. P. Lesser. Nitrogen Biogeochemistry in the Caribbean Sponge, Xestospongia muta: A Source or Sink of Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen? PLoS ONE, 8: e72961, 2013.
Fiore, C. L., Jarett, J. K., Labrie, M. S., and M. P. Lesser. Symbiotic Prokaryotic Communities from Different populations of the Giant Barrel Sponge, Xestospongia muta. MicrobiologyOpen, doi: 10.1002/mbo3.135, 2013.
Olson, N. and M. P. Lesser. Diversity of Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria Associated with Different Color Colonies of the Coral, Montastraea cavernosa. Archives of Microbiology, doi: 10.1007/s00203-013-0937-z, 2013.
Lesser, M. P. and M. Slattery. Ecology of Caribbean Sponges: Are Top-down or Bottom-up Processes More Important? PLoS ONE, 8: e79799, 2013.
Lesser, M. P., Carleton, K. L., Böttger, S. A., Barry, T. M. and C. W. Walker. Sea Urchin Tube Feet are Photosensory Organs that Express a Rhabdomeric-like opsin and PAX6. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0336, 2011.
Lesser, M. P., and M. Slattery. Invasive Lionfish Causes a Phase Shift to Algal Dominated Communities at Mesophotic Depths on a Bahamian Coral Reef. Biological Invasions, 13: 1855-1868, 2011.
Lesser, M. P. Coral Bleaching: Causes and Mechanisms. In: Coral Reefs: An Ecosystem in Transition, Dubinsky, Z. and N. Stambler (eds.), Springer, pp. 405-420, 2011.
Fiore, C. L., Jarett, J. K., Olson, N. D., and M. P. Lesser. Nitrogen Fixation and Nitrogen Transformations in Marine Symbioses. Trends in Microbiology, 18: 455-463, 2010.
Lesser, M. P., M. Bailey, D. Merselis, and J. R. Morrison. Physiological response of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis to differences in food and temperature in the Gulf of Maine. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 156: 541-551, 2010.
Lesser, M. P., M. Slattery, M. Stat, M. Ojimi, R. Gates, and A. Gro