The Invertebrate Zoology & Molecular Ecology laboratory at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories consists of Dr. Jonathan Geller, his graduate students, affiliated faculty, and technicians. Our research interests are broadly concerned with the evolution and ecology of marine invertebrates. Much of our work uses molecular approaches; for example, we use molecular data to investigate phylogenetic relationships among species, to study population genetic structure, to identify larvae or members of sibling species complexes, and to study patterns of gene expression. Our studies are motivated by an interest in whole organisms and their natural history, and our phylogenetic, population genetic, and gene expression studies usually seek to extend our understanding of the adaptation of organisms to their environment. Graduate students are encouraged to develop expertise in both field and laboratory techniques, a general knowledge of the biology of invertebrates, and specific knowledge of the eastern Pacific invertebrate biota.
Primary projects in the Invertebrate Zoology/Molecular Ecology lab are DNA barcoding and invasive species detection in coastal waters of California, Alaska, Chesapeake, and Florida. Coupled to the DNA barcoding projects are metagenomic analyses of benthic and plankton communities, in which bulk DNA from entire assemblages are extracted and sequenced by Next Generation Sequencing technology. We have installed an Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine in our laboratory and now run analyses in-house. In addition, a new $4.8 million major project is funded by NSF through its PIRE program, and involves metagenomic analysis of coral reef biodiversity. In this project, settling modules called Autonomous Reef Monitoring Systems (ARMS) are deployed, colonized by biota, retrieved and analyzed.