Adrian Smith Ph.D.


My work in the Chagos Archipelago focused on the comparative biology and immunity of corals in relation to infection and commensurable associations.

I am interested in understanding the interaction of the coral immune system with infections, commensal microbes and endosymbionts.

The knowledge gained through this study provides a better understanding of the basic biology of corals immune systems and gives an integrated view of the host-pathogens interactions within coral reefs. We employ a range of approaches including genetics, molecular biology and functional studies.



The complex interactions between corals, pathogens, commensals and endosymbionts is fascinating. Understanding these interactions is key in developing new strategies to protect these threatened communities for future generations.

Adrian Smith


2008 Present
Department of Zoology, Oxford
1998 2008
Institute for Animal Health
1994 1998
Department of Biology, Yale University

My Project

  • Island Reef Connections
    The Conservation Value of Coral Reef Biodiversity for the MPA surrounding the Chagos Archipelago

Other interests

The Comparative Infection and Immunity research group (CIIRG) has diverse interests in the comparative biology of infection and immunity; working with a wide range of hosts, microbes and pathogens. Our area of interest concerns the evolution of the host immune system and the diversity of problems and solutions associated with infectious challenge whilst maintaining a positive interaction with commensal microbes. We have ongoing projects on the evolution of pattern recognition receptors in vertebrates, the fundamental biology of vertebrate adaptive immunity as well as immunity in corals. The group also investigates functional population genetics of immune receptors in various species including penguins. One of our recent studies has just described a unique aspect of macrophage biology in the European Badger that may explain susceptibility to bovine tuberculosis.

Additionally, the group is interested in factors affecting the population structure of the microbiome and diversity of Campylobacter in different types of poultry. Lastly, members of the CIIRG work on pathogen/host ancient DNA to interrogate past events (e.g. human parasites in relation to diet and trade)