Cliff Ross

Chair/ Professor

Biology | College of Arts & Sciences

Areas of Expertise

Ecological physiology, Cellular mechanisms of stress responses in marine organisms


Teaching Responsibilities include: Marine Biology, Marine Botany, Oceanography, Current Applications in Biology, General Biology I


B.S. (Marine Biology) Florida Atlantic University (1996)
M.S. (Biology) Florida Atlantic University (1998)
Ph.D. (Marine Science) University of California, Santa Barbara (2005)
Postdoctoral Fellow Smithsonian Marine Station (2005-2007)


My research program utilizes biochemical, cellular and ecological approaches to better understand the stress responses of seagrasses, corals and algae. Studying the stress pathways that regulate biotic interactions is important for discerning not only how aquatic organisms adapt to their environment, but how aquatic organisms respond to each other. I am particularly interested in evaluating the impacts of environmental stressors on cellular processes with the ultimate goal of understanding how this influences ecosystem functionality. Building an integrated understanding of how events at the cellular level can impact a species' ecology is important for our ability to predict the impacts of both regional and global scale climate change.  



Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award 2010-2011


Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award 2014-2015


Research Associate, Smithsonian Marine Station

American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS Certified - Scientific Diving)

Grants and Contracts Awarded


Publications & Presentations


 (student co-authors denoted with *)




37. Ross, C., *Warhurst, B., *Brown, A., *Huff, C. and Ochrietor, J.D. 2018. Mesohaline conditions represent the threshold for oxidative stress, cell death and toxin release in the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa (In Press: Aquatic Toxicology).




36. Ross, C., Fogarty, N.D., Ritson-Williams, R. and Paul, V.J. 2018. Interspecific variation in coral settlement and fertilization success in response to hydrogen peroxide exposure. Biological Bulletin. 233(3): 206-218.


35. *Bishop, N., Martin, D.L. and Ross, C. 2017. Effects of multi-stress exposure on the infection dynamics of a Labyrinthula sp.-Turtle Grass pathosystem. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 581: 119-133.




34. *Lauer, N.T. and Ross, C. 2016. Physiological and oxidative stress responses of Baldcypress in response to elevated salinity: Linking and identifying biomarkers of stress in a keystone species. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum. 38(275):


33. Ritson-Williams, R., Ross, C. and Paul, V.J. 2016. Elevated temperature and allelopathy impact coral recruitment. PLoS One 11 (12): e0166581.


32. Martin, D.L., Chiari, Y., Boone, B., Sherman, T.D., Ross, C., Wyllie-Echeverria, S., Gaydos, J.K. and Boettcher, A.A. Functional, Phylogenetic and Host-Geographic Signatures of Labyrinthula spp. Provide for a Species Concept and Global-Scale View of Seagrass Wasting Disease. Estuaries and Coasts. 39(5): 1403-1421.




31. *Trevathan-Tackett, S., Lane, A.L., *Bishop, N. and Ross, C. 2015. Metabolites derived from the tropical sea grass Thalassia testudinum are bioactive against pathogenic Labyrinthula sp. Aquatic Botany. 122:1-8.


30. Ross, C., Olsen, K., Henry, M. and Pierce R. 2015. Mosquito control pesticides and sea surface temperatures have differential effects on the survival and oxidative stress response of coral larvae. Ecotoxicology. 24 (3): 540-552.


29. *Olsen, K., Paul, V.J. and Ross, C. 2015. Direct effects of elevated temperature, reduced pH and the presence of macroalgae (Dictyota spp.) on larvae of the Caribbean coral Porites astreoides. Bulletin of Marine Science. 91 (2): 255-270.




28. *Olsen, K., Ritson-Williams, R., Paul, V.J. and Ross, C. 2014. The combined effects of macroalgal presence and elevated temperature on the early life-history stages of a common Caribbean coral. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 509: 181-191. 


27. Ross, C. 2014. Nitric oxide and heat shock protein 90 co-regulate temperature-induced bleaching in the soft coral Eunicea fusca. Coral Reefs. 33 (2): 513-522.




26. *Trevathan-Tackett, S.M., *Lauer, N.T., *Loucks, K., Rossi, A.M. and Ross, C. 2013. Assessing the relationship between seagrass health and habitat quality with wasting disease prevalence in the Florida Keys. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 449: 221-229.


25. *Loucks, K., Waddell, D.S., and Ross, C. 2013. Lipopolysaccharides elicit an oxidative burst as a component of the innate immune system in the seagrass Thalassia testudinum. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. 70: 292-303.


24. *Olsen, K., Ritson-Williams, R., Ochrietor, J.D., Paul, V.J. and Ross, C. 2013. Detecting hyperthermal stress in larvae of the hermatypic coral Porites astreoides: The suitability of using biomarkers of oxidative stress versus heat shock protein transcriptional expression. Marine Biology. 160 (10): 2609-2618.


23. Ross, C., Ritson-Williams, R., *Olsen, K. and Paul, VJ. 2013. Short-term and latent post-settlement effects associated with elevated temperature and oxidative stress on larvae from the coral Porites astreoides. Coral Reefs. 32(1): 71-79.


22. Koch, M., Bowes, G.E., Ross, C. and Zhang, X. 2013. Climate Change and ocean acidification effects on seagrasses and macroalgae. Global Change Biology. 19 (1): 103-132.




21. *Morrow, K.M., Ritson-Williams, R., Ross, C., Mark Liles, M., and Paul, V.J. 2012. Macroalgal allelochemicals induce bacterial assemblage shifts and sublethal tissue stress in Caribbean corals.PLoS ONE 7(9): e44859. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044859




20. *Welling, M., Ross, C. and G. Pohnert. 2011. A Desulfatation-Oxidation Cascade Activates Coumarin-Based Cross-Linkers in the Wound Reaction of the Giant Unicellular Alga Dasycladus vermicularis. Angewandte Chemie. 50 (33): 7691-7694.


19. *Trevathan, S.M., Kahn, A. and C. Ross. 2011. Effects of short-term hypersalinity exposure on the susceptibility to wasting disease in the subtropical seagrass Thalassia testudinum. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. 49: 1051-1058. 


18. *Lauer, N.T., *Yeager, M., Kahn, A., Dobberfuhl, D., and C. Ross. 2011. The effects of short term salinity exposure on the sublethal stress response of Vallisneria americana Michx. (Hydrocharitaceae). Aquatic Botany. 95 (3): 207-213. 




17. *Main, W., Ross, C., and Bielmyer, G.K. 2010. Copper Accumulation and Oxidative Stress in the Sea Anemone, Aiptasia pallida, After Waterborne Copper Exposure Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology-Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology 151: 216-221.


16. Ross, C., Ritson-Williams, R., *Bullington, B., Pierce, R., Henry, M., and V.J. Paul. 2010. Impacts of Karenia brevis on coral larvae oxidative stress and settlement. Harmful Algae 9: 173-179.




15. *Welling, M., Pohnert, G., Kupper, F.C., and C. Ross. 2009. Rapid biopolymerization during wound plug formation in green Algae. Journal of Adhesion 85: 825-838.


14. *Meickle, T., Matthew, S., Ross, C., Luesch, H. and Paul, V. J. 2009. Bioassay-Guided Isolation and Identification of Desacetlymicrocolin B from Lyngbya cf. polychroa. Planta Medica. 75:1427-1430.

13. Sharp, K., Arthur, K.E., Gu, L., Ross, C., Harrison, G., Gunasekera, S., *Meickle, T., Matthew, S., Luesch, H., Thacker, R., Sherman, D., Paul, V.J. 2009. Phylogenetic and chemical diversity of three chemotypes of bloom-forming Lyngbya (Cyanobacteria: Oscillatoriales) from reefs of Southeast Florida. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 75 (9): 2879-2888.




12. Gunasekera, S.P., Ross, C., Paul, V.J., Matthew, S. and Luesch, H. 2008. Dragonamides C and D, Linear lipopeptides from the marine cyanobacterium Lyngbya polychroa. Journal of Natural Products 71, 887-890.


11. Mathew, S., Ross, C., Paul, V.J., and Luesch, H. 2008. Pompanopeptins A and B, new cyclic peptides from the marine cyanobacterium Lyngbya confervoides. Tetrahedron 64, 4081-4089.


10. Ross, C., Puglisi, M.P., and Paul, V.J., 2008. Anti-fungal defense systems of Seagrass communities. Aquatic Botany 88, 134-131.




9. Paul, V.J., Arthur, K.E., Ritson-Williams, R., Ross, C., and Sharp, K. 2007. Chemical Defenses: From Compounds to Communities. Biological Bulletin 213: 226-251.


8. Ross, C. and Van Alstyne, K.L., 2007. Intraspecific variation in stress-induced hydrogen peroxide scavenging by the ulvoid macroalga Ulva lactuca. Journal of Phycology 43 (3). 466-474.


7. Matthew, S., Ross, C., Rocca, J.R., Paul, V.J., and Luesch, H. 2007. Lyngbyastatin 4, a Dolastatin 13 analog with elastase and chymotrypsin inhibitory activity from the marine cyanobacterium Lyngbya confervoides. Journal of Natural Products 70 (1): 124-127.




6. Ross, C., Vasquez-Santiago, L., and Paul, V.J., 2006. Toxin secretion in response to oxidative stress and programmed cell death in the cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa. Aquatic Toxicology 78 (1): 66-73.


5. Ross, C., Küpper, F. C., and R. S. Jacobs., 2006. Involvement of reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species in the wound response in Dasycladus vermicularis (Chlorophyta). Chemistry & Biology 13 (3): 353-364.


2005 and prior


4. Ross, C., Küpper, F. C., Vreeland, V., Waite, J.H., and R. S. Jacobs. 2005. Evidence of a Latent Oxidative Burst in Relation to Wound Repair in the Giant Unicellular Chlorophyte Dasycladus vermicularis. Journal of Phycology 41 (3): 46-54.


3. Ross, C., Vreeland, V., Waite, J.H., and Robert S. Jacobs. 2005. Rapid Assembly of a Wound Plug; Stage One of a Two Stage Wound Repair Mechanism in the Giant Unicellular Chlorophyte Dasycladus vermicularis. Journal of Phycology 41 (1): 531-541.


2. Ross, C. Hevener, S., Clark, R., Hartmann, J.X. and Mari, F.1998. Isolation of parvalbumin isotypes by preparative HPLC techniques. Preparative Biochemistry and Biotechnology. 28 (1): 49-60.


1. Ross, C., Tilghman, R.W., Hartmann, J.X. and Mari, F.1997. Distribution of parvalbumin isotypes in adult snook and their potential applications as species-specific biomarkers. Journal of Fish Biology. 55 (3): 561-572.

RossContact Information

Building 59, Room 1302

(904) 620-1853