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Brownlee Group

Algal cell biology

The seas are teeming with a huge diversity of life from the simplest single-celled organisms to complex animals.  The many different life forms that we find on the planet had their evolutionary roots in the oceans.  Life in the oceans also plays critical roles in the Earth's carbon and nutrient cycles and the regulation of climate.  The marine biota also provide a rich resource of models for the study of the evolution of fundamental life processes such as development and physiology as well as responses and adaptation to changes in their external environment.   Marine organisms also present a vast untapped resource for biotechnological advances.

Our research addresses mechanisms that underlie fundamental processes in algae, with particular focus on the marine phytoplankton, ranging from elucidating molecular mechanisms operating in single cells to the factors that regulate the dynamics of populations.  We work with population biologists and ecosystem modellers to better understanding how the phytoplankton drive ocean processes and respond and adapt to the changes in ocean chemistry that are occurring as a result of human activities on a global scale.

My research is currently funded by a European Research Council Advanced grant, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), EU Horizon 2020 and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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