Coral Biomineralization and Physiology

Lab Leader: Dr. Tali Mass

Lab Manager: Dr. Ricardo Almuly

My main scientific interests involve in understanding how does the coral catalyze the precipitation of biomineral? Where and when is the biomineral formed? And what is the biophysical basis for the precipitation reaction. In addition, I focus my study on how calcifying marine organisms respond physiologically and morphologically to changes in their environment and to better understand the role of algal (genus Symbiodinium) symbionts in coral (host) calcification.

The lab focuses on:

  • Basic mechanism responsible the precipitation of calcium carbonate in corals
  • How calcifying marine organisms respond physiologically and morphologically to changes in their environment
  • What is the role of algal (genus Symbiodinium) symbionts in coral (host) calcification. 

Tali Mass Ph.D
Faculty of Natural Science, Charney School of Marine Sciences, Department of Marine Biology, University of Haifa, Israel
Phone: ++972-4-8288977; Email: tmass@univ,


2006-2010 Ph.D The Department of Evolution Systematics and Ecology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Thesis: Biological and ecological effects of flow on corals (supervisor: Prof. Amatzia Genin)
2003-2005 M.Sc. The Mina & Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences,
Bar-Ilan University, Israel
Thesis: Photosynthesis and calcification in the Red sea coral Stylophora pistillata. (supervisors: Prof. Zvi Dubinsky, Dr. Razi Vago)
2000-2003 B.Sc. The Israeli Maritime College, Michmoret Israel.

Professional experience

2014- present Lecturer, Leon Charney School of Marine Sciences, Dept. of Marine Biology,
University of Haifa.
2010-2014 Post-doctoral fellow, Institute of Marine and Coastal Science, Rutgers University
2006 Project coordinator, EcoOcean Israel (, I developed outreach programs on marine protection for K-12 and led monitoring projects in the Mediterranean Sea, Isreal.
2003 Project coordinator, Yambateva Israel
1991-2000 Eco-tourism field guide, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel


Peer reviewed

Mass T, Drake LJ, Putnam HM, Zelzion U, Gates RD, Bhattacharya D, Falkowski PG (2016). Temporal expression pattern of biomineralization proteins during early development in the stony coral Pocillopora damicornis.  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 283(1829). (doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.0322). PDF

Debashish Bhattacharya, Shobhit Agrawal, Manuel Aranda, Sebastian Baumgarten, Mahdi Belcaid, Jeana L. Drake, Douglas Erwin, Sylvain Foret, Ruth D. Gates, David F. Gruber, Bishoy Hanna, Michael P. Lesser, Oren Levy, Yi Jin Liew, Matthew MacManes, Tali Mass, Monica Medina, Shaadi Mehr, Eli Meyer, Dana C. Price, Hollie M. Putnam, Huan Qiu, Chuya Shinzato, Eiichi Shoguchi, Alexander J. Stokes, Sylvie Tambutt?, Dan Tchernov, Christian R. Voolstra, Nicole Wagner, Charles W. Walker, Andreas P.M. Weber, Virginia Weiss, Ehud Zelzion, Didier Zoccola and Paul G. Falkowski (2016). Basis for ecological success of reef-forming corals elucidated using comparative genomics. eLife (doi:10.7554/eLife.13288). PDF

Akiva, A., M. Neder and T. Mass (2016). Tracking the Early Events of Mineral Formation during Coral Development. Microscopy and Microanalysis 22(S5): 16-17. PDF

Mass T , Drake JL, Peters EC, Jiang W and Falkowski PG (2014) Immunolocalization of skeletal matrix proteins in tissue and mineral of the coral Stylophorapistillata. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 10.1073/pnas.1408621111 PDF

Drake JL, Mass T, & Falkowski PG (2014) The evolution and future of carbonate precipitation in marine invertebrates: Witnessing extinction or documenting resilience in the Anthropocene? Elementa: DOI 10.12952/journal.elementa.000026 PDF

Mass T , Drake LJ, Haramaty L, Kim JD, Zelzion U, Bhattacharya D, Falkowski PG. (2013) Cloning and characterization of four novel coral acid-rich proteins that precipitate carbonates in vitro. Current Biology 23: 1126-1131. PDF

Drake, J.L., Mass, T., Haramaty, L., Zelzion, E., Bhattacharya, D., and Falkowski, P.G. (2013). Reply to Ramos-Silva et al.: Regarding coral skeletal proteome. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 10.1073/pnas.1304591110. PNAS

Kremien M, Shavit U, Mass T, Genin A, (2013) The great benefit of pulsation in soft corals, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 10.1073/pnas.1301826110. PDF

Drake JL, Mass T, Haramaty L, Zelzion E, Bhattacharya D, and Falkowski PG, (2013). Proteomic analysis of skeletal organic matrix from the stony coral Stylophora pistillata. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 110, 3788-3793. PDF

Chindapol N, Kaandorp JA, Cronemberger C, Mass T and Genin A, (2013) Modelling growth and form of the scleractinian coral Pocillopora verrucosa and the influence of hydrodynamics, PLoS Comput Biol 9(1): e1002849. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002849. PDF

Mass T , Drake JL, Haramaty L, Rosenthal Y, Schofield OME, Sherrell RM, Falkowski PG, (2012) Aragonite precipitation by “nano-polyps” in coral cell culture. PLoS ONE: 7(4): e35049. PDF

Tchernov D, Mass T, Gruber D. F, (2012) Consequences of Parasitic to Symbiotic Transition Triggered by Ancient Climate Event? TREE: 27(4):194-195. Mass T, Brickner I, Hendy E, Genin A, (2011) Enduring physiological and reproductive benefits of enhanced flow for a stony coral. Limnol. Oceanogr.56(6): 2176-2188.

Mass T , Kline D I, Roopin M, Veal CJ, Cohen S, Iluz D, Levy O, (2010) The spectral quality of light is a key driver of photosynthesis and photoadaptation in Stylophora pistillata colonies from different depths. J Exp Biol: 213: 4084-4091. PDF embh

Mass T , Genin A, Shavit U, Grinstein M, Tchernov D, (2010) Flow enhances photosynthesis in marine benthic autotrophs by increasing the efflux of oxygen from the organism to the water. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A.: 107: 2527-2531. PDF

Raz-Bahat M, Faibish H, Mass T, Rinkevich B, (2009) Three-dimensional laser scanning methodology as a novel tool for coral surface area measurements. Limnol. Oceanogr.: Methods 7: 657–663.

Einbinder S, Mass T, Brokovich E, Dubinsky Z, Erez Y, Tchernov D, (2009) Changes in morphology and diet of the coral Stylophora pistillata along the depth gradient. Mar Ecol Prog Ser: 381: 167–174.

Mass T , Genin A, (2008) Environmental vs. intrinsic determination of colony symmetry in the coral Pocillopora verrucosa Mar Ecol Prog Ser 369, 131-137. PDF

Mass T , Einbinder S, Brokovich E, Shashar N, Vago R, Erez J, Dubinsky Z (2007) Photoacclimation of Stylophora pistillata to light extremes: metabolism and calcification. Mar Ecol Prog Ser: 334, 93-102. PDF

For additional information please send your CV to Dr. Tali Mass-