Viral and molecular ecology

The sheer abundance of oceanic viruses results in ~1029 viral infections per day

My research addresses fundamental research questions in both the marine and terrestrial environments. Two areas in particular are:

  • Food security:  looking specifically at climate change, algal aquaculture and honey bee health;
  • Ecosystem resilience: looking specifically at the environmental Microbiomes and algal bloom dynamics

Image by Dean McKeown

Image by Peter Miller

Image by Angela Ward

Image by Declan Schroeder

Link to publications:

Link to D-Factory project:


Microbes (viruses, bacteria, archaea and protists) are often invisible to the human eye (<2 mm in size) and arguably make up the most important and extraordinarily diverse forms of life on the planet. There is growing awareness that microbes may be one of the most important components of any ecosystem. Their socio-economic value can be seen in context of their contribution to the world’s primary production; as nearly half of the world’s oxygen supply is generated by microbes through photosynthesis. They sustain the extraordinary biodiversity of life on Earth.  Our research seeks to describe and ultimately assign function to the complex Microbiomes within and surrounding key environmental features and/or events on the scale of a host cell or habitat to its surrounding environment.

Image by Dean McKeown

Image by Flavia Flaviani

Host-virus model systems:

There are currently estimated to be between 4 and 6 × 1030 prokaryotes (Bacteria and Archaea) in the biosphere, with around 4 × 1028 in the aquatic environment. The sheer abundance of viruses (~1031) in the aquatic environment results in around 1023 virus infections per second, the consequence of which is the release of gigatonnes of carbon per day from the biosphere. The biogeochemical impact of viruses is to divert carbon away from the classically understood food web, towards cellular-mediated recycling processes. We have focussed our research on two dominate forms of viruses that infect key organisms within major trophic levels, namely members of the picorna-like RNA virus superfamily (the genus Iflavirus) and the nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (the genera Phaeovirus and Coccolithovirus).


Image by Luke Mackinder

Image by Declan Schroeder

Marine Microbial Biodiversity, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology (MICROB3)

Technological advances in the fields of 'Omics have enabled marine scientists to realise projects they only dreamt of 10 years ago. Large amounts of next generation sequencing data stand in contrast to the small amount of data management infrastructure with integrated analysis software currently...


Links to project video can be found here:

The aim of FP7-KBBE D-...

Class of December 2016 (right to left): Declan Schroeder, Dean McKeown, Angela Ward, Karen Lebret, Michael Carter-Gates and Andrea Highfield. Mariano Peruzzo, Toby Cowper and Claire Jasper (absent)

Class of December 2015 (right to left): Back row- Flavia Flaviani, Andrea Highfield, Cecilia Balestreri, Declan Schroeder, Angela Ward, Leela Chakravarti and El Mahdi Bendif; front row - Michael Carter-Gates, April Stabbins and Amanda Toke. Dean McKeown and Claire Jasper (absent)

Class of November 2012 (right to left): Maya Pfaff, Gideon Mordecai, Jo Schroeder, Consuelo Carbonell-Moore, Kim Stevens, Declan Schroeder, Stacy Krueger-Hadfield, Cecilia Balestreri and Flavia Flaviani

Class of November 2011 (right to left): Andrea Highfield, Cecilia Balestreri, Declan Schroeder, Mark Fox-Powell, Kim Stevens and Gideon Mordecai

Staff List

Declan Schroeder
Senior Research Fellow
Declan is an MBA Senior Research Fellow and Director of the newly constituted MBA Culture Collection.
Email: Telephone Number:
+44 (0)1752 426484
Andrea Highfield
Postdoctoral Researcher

Andrea is a postdoctoral researcher working within the Cellular and Molecular group at the MBA.

Email: Telephone Number:
+44(0)1742 968638

Selected publications: (full list can be found here:

Selected book Chapters:

  • Pfaff MC, Flaviani F, Du Plessis G, Rybicki EP & Schroeder DC The Overlooked Foundation: Marine Microbes in the Oceans Surrounding South Africa. In The State of the Art of Current Marine and Maritime Research and Technology in South Africa. (2014) (
  • Philip Williamson, Carol Turley, Colin Brownlee, Helen S Findlay, Andy Ridgwell, Daniela N Schmidt, Declan C Schroeder, Jerry Blackford, Toby Tyrrell and John K Pinnegar Impacts of climate change on ocean acidification (2013) MCCIP Science Review
  • Cock et al. (2012). Genomic insights into the biology of algae. Book Series: Advances in Botanical Research, Volume: 64, Pages: 141-184 doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-391499-6.00005-0.
  • Brussard, C., Schroeder, D.C., Bratbak, G., Van Etten, J.L, Nagasaki, K, Suttle, C., & Wilson, W. H. Phycodnaviridae. In Andrew M.Q. King, Michael J. Adams, Eric B. Carstens, and Elliot J. Lefkowitz, editors: Virus Taxonomy, Oxford: Elsevier , (2011), pp. 249 - 262.
  • Schroeder, D.C. Viruses of Seaweeds. In Studies in Viral Ecology, volume 1: Microbial and Botanical Host Systems. Ed. Hurst. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (2011) ISBN 978-0-470-62396-1
  • Schroeder, D.C. Viruses of Insects. In Studies in Viral Ecology, volume 2: Animal Host Systems Ed. Hurst. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (2011) ISBN 978-0-470-62429-6
  • Sapp, M and Schroeder, D (2010). Charting Progress 2 Healthy and Biological Diverse Seas Feeder Report: Section 3.2: Microbes. Published by Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs on behalf of UKMMAS. p272-285. In: UKMMAS (2010) Charting Progress 2 Healthy and Biological Diverse Seas Feeder Report (Eds.Frost, M & Hawkridge,J)

Director | MBA Culture Collection

Senior MBA Research Fellow

The Marine Biological Association

Citadel Hill




(tel) +44 (0)1752 426484

Image by Maya Pfaff