Pocillopora is a genus of stony corals in the family Pocilloporidae occurring in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are commonly called cauliflower corals and brush corals.

Pocillopora are branching corals that also grow quickly and provide extensive three-dimensional habitat for fish and other marine life on coral reefs.

Pocillopora corals are some of the earliest species to colonize new and recovering reef areas. They are also an environmentally sensitive species but may be less sensitive than Acropora.

They are both broadcast spawners and brooders and can transmit symbionts to their offspring. In contrast to broadcast spawning, fertilization occurs internally in brooding corals and released larvae are more developed and therefore may settle sooner than larvae from broadcast spawning.

The polyps are hermaphrodite, possessing four sets of male and four sets of female gonads. Pocillopora can reproduce asexually via fragmentation. They also reproduce sexually and the larvae develop inside the polyps rather than free-floating in the water.

When they are mature, the larvae are released and can remain free-swimming for several weeks before settling on the substrate.

Exploring Pocillopora

Coming Soon

Pocillopora corals are very common on the reefs of Mo’orea. They have high species diversity and may have different colors, yet very similar shapes and branching patterns, or morphology.

Research Plan

Pocillopora corals are widespread because they sometimes attach to floating objects and can be carried far afield by currents and wind.



Corals cannot escape global change, they have to deal with its effects. To do so, these corals interact with symbionts and other microbes to produce acclimatized phenotypes.


While it is clear that there is a cause-effect link between environmental changes and coral responses, the nature of the mechanisms participating in this process is still unknown.


We hypothesize that environmental changes will shape energetic balances in coral cells, providing cofactors that will participate in the epigenetic regulation of phenotypic responses.


Corals from different groups with diverse ecology and life-history traits will be studied in the field and in the lab, to develop dynamic bioenergetic models for coral-algal symbioses.


This project combines experimental and theoretical expertise, leverages on Mo’orea NSF LTER facilities, and the support of five top public research universities in the U.S.


The E5 Coral Rules of Life project one the most ambitious and comprehensive research efforts in the world addressing the role of epigenetic regulation during environmental responses in marine organisms.