Basic Information

Life Sciences, Rm C310
Lab office:
Life Sciences, Rm C312
Lab phone:
Research Interests:

My long-term research interest has been to understand processes involved in the formation and maintenance of photosynthetic complexes of plants and algae. Our work pioneered understanding how nuclear-encoded proteins are transported into chloroplasts and integrated into photosynthetic membranes. Other research has concerned how regulation of formation of multi-subunit complexes is achieved, finding that it involves intricate processes that includes gene expression and subsequent control mechanisms (such as post-translational mRNA stabilization, RNA precursor maturation, translational regulation and post-translational protein stabilization and protein phosphorylation mechanisms). My laboratory also invented methods for reconstruction of the light-harvesting antenna complexes for photosynthesis from their purified apoproteins and purified chlorophylls and carotenoids. With molecular mutagenesis techniques, the latter work enabled mapping the proteins’ pigment binding sites, identification of the important roles in light absorption efficiency due to protein-protein interactions, and elucidation of light energy transfer/photoprotection pathways.

Our laboratory has focused in recent years on understanding the genotypic and physiological diversity of the symbiotic algae in corals and their related cnidarian species in reefs around the globe. A major question addressed in current work is why are some corals less susceptible than others to bleaching as a consequence or ocean warming. The evidence points to different capacities of the divergent symbiotic dinoflagellates to maintain photosynthetic efficiencies when subjected to extremes of temperature and light.

  • Environmental Protection Agency. Star Fellowship for Clinton Oakley
Selected Publications:
  • Kemp DW, Hernandez-Pech X, Iglesias-Prieto R, Fitt WK, Schmidt GW. Community dynamics and physiology of Symbiodinium before during and after a bleaching event. (In revision). Proceedings of Royal Society London B.
  • Oakley CA, Hopkinson, BM, Schmidt, GW A modular system for the measurement of CO2 and O2 gas flux and photosynthetic electron transport in microalgae. (in press) Limnology and Oceanography: Methods
  • Thornhill DJ, Chilcoat GC, Iglesias-Prieto R, Kemp DW, LaJeunesse TC, Reynolds McCabe J, Rotjan RD, Schmidt GW, Shannon T, Todd BD, Warner ME, Fitt WK. (2011) A connection between colony biomass and death in Caribbean reef-building corals. PLoS One. 6:e29535.
  • Kemp DW, Oakley CA, Thornhill DJ, Newcomb LA, Schmidt GW, Fitt WK (2011) Catastrophic mortality on inshore coral reefs of the Florida Keys due to severe low-temperature stress. Global Change Biology. 17:3468-3477. (coverage by the Associated Press, NPR, Science Daily, Our Amazing Planet)
  • Thornhill DJ, Kemp DW, Sampayo EM, Schmidt GW (2010) Comparative analyses of amplicon migration behavior in differing denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) systems. Coral Reefs 29: 83-91
  • LaJeunesse,T.C,, W.K. Fitt and G.W. Schmidt. 2010. The reticulated chloroplasts of zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium) and differences in chlorophyll localization among life cycle stages. Coral Reefs 29: 627
  • Thornhill DJ, Kemp DW, Bruns BU, Fitt WK, Schmidt GW (2008) Physiological tolerance determines the biogeography of a temperate Symbiodinium type. Journal of Phycology 44: 1126-1135.
  • McCabe-Reynolds, J.C., Bruns B.U., Fitt, W.K. and G.W. Schmidt. 2008. Enhanced photoprotection pathways in symbiotic dinoflagellates of shallow-water corals and other cnidarians. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105: 13674-8.
  • Long, T. A., Y, Okegawa, T. Shikanai, G.W. Schmidt and S.F. Covert. 2008. Conserved role of PROTON GRADIENT REGULATION 5 in the regulation of PSI cyclic electron transport. Planta 228: 907-18.
  • Thornhill, D. J., D.W. Kemp, B.U. Bruns, W.K. Fitt and G.W. Schmidt. 2008. Correspondence between cold tolerance and temperate biogeography in western Atlantic Symbiodinium (Dinophyta). J. Phycology 44: 1126 – 1135.
  • LaJeunesse, T. C., H. R. Bonilla, M.E. Warner, M. Wills, G.W. Schmidt, and W.K. Fitt. 2008. Specificity and stability in high latitude eastern Pacific coral-algal symbioses. Limnology and Oceanography 53: 719-727.
  • Kemp DW, Fitt WK, Schmidt GW (2008) A microsampling technique for genotyping coral symbionts. Coral Reefs. 27: 289-293

Ph.D Cellular and Developmental Biology, State University of New York - Stony Brook 1975