General Research Theme

The general question we study is the adaptation potential of marine organisms to environmental change.  The specific area of research being addressed in my laboratory group is the environmental physiology of development of marine invertebrates, especially the early stages of development ("larvae").  Understanding growth and development of any animal in its natural environment - be it terrestrial or aquatic - is a complex process.  For species of marine animals, the problem of understanding the biology of larval stages is further complicated by the vast scales and changing environments of the world's oceans over which life-history strategies are known to vary.


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Working in Antarctica

Donal Manahan, Professor of Biological Sciences talks about his most recent journey to Antarctica with a group of researchers from around the world in order to study the planet's…

Video by Mira Zimet


Examples of our studies of larval development in 'extreme environments'

(Antarctica; Deep-sea hydrothermal vents)

Paper on Antarctic larvae

Metabolic efficiency in an extreme-cold environment:

"High macromolecular synthesis with low metabolic cost in Antarctic sea urchin embryos."


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Paper on hydrothermal vent larvae

Physiology and dispersal potential of deep-sea vent larvae:

"Larval dispersal potential of the tubeworm Riftia pachyptila at deep-sea hydrothermal vents."


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  • Professor Donal T. Manahan
  • Department of Biological Sciences
  • USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • University of Southern California
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371