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Rebecca Vega-Thurber standing in lobby

Rebecca L. Vega Thurber

Interim Department Head
Emile F. Pernot Distinguished Professorship in Microbiology
Department of Microbiology

Rebecca L. Vega Thurber

Interim Department Head
Emile F. Pernot Distinguished Professorship in Microbiology
Department of Microbiology


My lab’s research uses interdisciplinary and high technology approaches to address questions about how viruses and microbes function in and affect the environment. Using a combination of empirical experimentation, field work, metagenomics, microscopy and molecular biology, my research provides important insight into a variety of fields including: virology, microbiology, coral reef ecology, animal physiology, and the evolution of symbioses.

Research Interests

  • Environmental Virology and Microbiology
  • Metagenomics and Marine Disease Ecology


Ph.D., Stanford University, Biological Sciences

College strategic research areas

Biomedical Science Marine Science


  • Veglia, AJ., Bistolas, KSI., Voolstra, CR., Hume, BCC., Ruscheweyh, HJ., Planes, S., Allemand, D., Boissin, E., Wincker, P., Poulain, J., Moulin, C., Bourdin, G., Iwankow, G., Romac, S., Agostini, S., Banaigs, B., Boss, E., Bowler, C., de Vargas, C., Douville, E., Flores, M., Forcioli, D., Furla, P., Galand, PE., Gilson, E., Lombard, F., Pesant, S., Reynaud, S., Sunagawa, S., Thomas, OP., Troublé, R., Zoccola, D., Correa, AMS., Thurber, RLV. 2023. Endogenous viral elements reveal associations between a non-retroviral RNA virus and symbiotic dinoflagellate genomes. Communications Biology. DOI: 10.1038/s42003-023-04917-9.
  • Howe-Kerr, LI., Grupstra, CGB., Rabbitt, KM., Conetta, D., Coy, SR., Klinges, JG., Maher, RL., McConnell, KM., Meiling, SS., Messyasz, A., Schmeltzer, ER., Seabrook, S., Sims, JA., Veglia, AJ., Thurber, AR., Thurber, RLV., Correa, AMS. 2023. Viruses of a key coral symbiont exhibit temperature-driven productivity across a reefscape. ISME Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s43705-023-00227-7.
  • Silva, DP., Epstein, HE., Thurber, RLV. 2023. Best practices for generating and analyzing 16S rRNA amplicon data to track coral microbiome dynamics. Frontiers in Microbiology. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.1007877.
  • Morelan, I.A., Gaulke, C.K., Sharpton, T.J., Thurber, R. Vega, and Denver, D.R. 2019. Microbiome variation in an intertidal sea anemone across latitudes and symbiotic states. Frontiers in Mar. Sci. 6:7.
  • Roux, S., Adriaensses, E.M., Dutilh, B.E., Thurber, R. Vega., and Eloe-Farosh, E.A. 2018. Minimum information about an uncultivated virus genome (MIUViG). Nature Biotechnol. 37(29):29-37.
  • McDevitt-Irwin, J.M., Baum, J.K., Garren, M., and Vega-Thurber, R.L. 2018. Responses of coral-associated bacterial communities to local and global stressors. Front. Mar. Sci. August 15;2017fmars.2017.00262.
  • Pollock, J.F., McMinds, R., Welsh, R., Smith, S., Bourne, D.G., Willis, B.L., Medina, M., Vega-Thurber, R., and Zaneveld, J.R. 2018. Coral-associated bacteria demonstrate phylosymbiosis and cophylogeny (in press, Nature Commun.)
  • Wang, L., Shantz, A.A., Payet, J., Sharpton, T.J., Foster, A., Burkepile, D.E., and Vega-Thurber, R. 2018. Corals and their microbiomes are differentially affected by exposure to elevated nutrients and a natural thermal anomaly. Frontiers of Mar. Sci. 5:101.
  • Thompson, L.R., Sanders, J.G. et al. 2017. A communal catalogue reveals Earth's multiscale microbial diversity. Nature 551:7681. doi:10.1038/nature24621 (member of Earth Microbiome Project consortium).
  • Torda, G., Donelson, J.M., Aranda, M., Barshis, D.J., Bay, L., Berumen, M., Bourne, D.G., Cantin, N., Foret, S., Matz, M., Miller, M., Moya, A., Putnam, H., Ravasai, T., van Oppen, M.J.H., Vega-Thurber, R., Vidal-Dupiol, J., Voolstra, C.R., Watson, S.A., Whitelaw, Willis, B., and Munday, P.L. 2017. Rapid adaptive responses to climate change in corals. Nature Climate Change 7:627-636 doi: 10.1038/nclimate 3374.
  • Thurber, R.V., Payet, J.P., Thurber, A.R. and Correa, A.M.S. 2017. Virus-host interactions and their roles in coral-reef health and disease. Nature Rev. Microbiol. 15(4):205-216.
  • Zaneveld, J.R., McMinds, R., and Vega-Thurber, R. 2017. Stress and stability: Applying the Anna Karenina principle to animal microbiomes. Nat. Microbiol. 2:17121.
  • Welsh, R.M., Rosales, S.M., Zaneveld, J.R., Payet, J.P., McMinda, R., Hubbs, S.L. and Vega Thurber, R.L. 2017. Alien vs predator: bacterial challenge alters coral microbiomes unless controlled by Halobacteriovorax predators. PeerJ. PMID: 28584701.