Professor Colin Brownlee, FMBA, FLS

Lankester Research Fellow

Professor Colin Brownlee standing by Mesolens Microscope

I am a Ray Lankester Fellow at the Marine Biological Association and Professor Emeritus in the School of Ocean and Earth Sciences at the University of Southampton. I am a former MBA Director and Senior Research Fellow. I study algal cells in order to understand fundamental aspects of cell biology, including transport across cell membranes, cellular homeostasis and cellular signalling processes that determine how phytoplankton cells sense and respond to changes in their environment. This research is providing unexpected insights into the evolution of membrane transport and signalling mechanisms in eukaryote organisms more generally. My research addresses the cell biology of key marine organisms, such as the calcifying coccolithophores and silicifying diatoms that are of critical importance in global carbon and nutrient cycles. This work has recently uncovered a new class of cation channels that play important roles in cell signalling in diatoms and coccolithophores as well as novel proton channels that are critical components of the coccolithophore calcification machinery. I adopt a multidisciplinary approach combining comparative physiology, molecular biology and genomics together with new advances in microscopy to better understand how phytoplankton populations may respond or adapt to changing conditions in the oceans.