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The University of Texas
Marine Science Institute
750 Channel View Drive
Port Aransas, TX 78373

Phone: 361-749-6711
Fax: 361-749-6777

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Deana L Erdner

Associate Professor
Department of Marine Science

Phytoplankton Ecology

Phone: 361-749-6719

Postal Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Mar Sci Inst-Port Aran
750 Channel View Dr
Port Aransas, TX 78373

Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (1997)
B.S., Carnegie Mellon University (1991)

Research Interests

Phytoplankton Ecology

Phytoplankton play an important role in global energy and elemental cycling. Photosynthesis by marine phytoplankton is responsible for almost half of global primary production. As such, they are the primary route through which energy enters aquatic ecosystems and can greatly influence overall ecosystem productivity and biomass. Because phytoplankton grow relatively rapidly and have high turnover rates, they are sensitive to fluctuations in external conditions and therefore good indicators of environmental change.

In general, research in my laboratory seeks to understand the processes that control the growth and distribution of marine phytoplankton. Our research projects integrate molecular tools with traditional ecological techniques to address issues ranging from the autecology of single phytoplankton species to overall phytoplankton community structure. 

Specific areas of interest include: cellular and environmental regulation of harmful algal bloom, population genetics of toxic dinoflagellates, effect of environmental changes on phytoplankton community structure and molecular methods for cell detection and enumeration.

Current projects include: 1) identification of genes involved in saxitoxin biosynthesis in Alexandrium dinoflagellates; 2) identification of genes involved in nitrogen and phosphorus assimilation, and adaptation to nutrient stress in Alexandrium fundyense; 3) biogeography and population biology of Alexandrium dinoflagellates; 4) characterization of mating interactions in Alexandrium; 5) development and application of quantitative PCR-based methods for the identification and enumeration of Alexandrium fundyense/tamarense/catenella; 6) determination of the identity, abundance and distribution of Pseudo-nitzschia species in the Northeastern U.S.

Additional areas of interest include: molecular responses to iron stress in a variety of phytoplankton taxa; density–dependent phenomena in algae; extracellular signaling in eukaryotic phytoplankton.

Selected Publications

Moustafa, A., A.N. Evans, D.M. Kulis, J.D. Hackett, D.L. Erdner, D.M. Anderson, and D. Bhattacharya. In Review. Deep transcriptome profiling of a toxic red tide dinoflagellate. PLoS One.

Brosnahan, M., D.M. Kulis, A.R. Solow, D.L. Erdner, L. Percy, J. Lewis, and D.M. Anderson. 2009. Outbreeding lethality between toxic, Group I and nontoxic, Group III Alexandrium tamarense spp. isolates: predominance of heterotypic encystment and implications for mating interactions and biogeography. Deep-Sea Research Part II. doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2009.09.005

Erdner, D.L., L. Percy, B.A. Keafer, J. Lewis, and D.M. Anderson. 2009. A quantitative real-time PCR assay for the indentification and enumeration of Alexandrium cysts in marine sediments. Deep-Sea Research Part II. doi10.1016/j.dsr2.2009.09.006

McCauley, L.A.R., D.L. Erdner, S. Nagai, M. Richlen, and D.M. Anderson. 2009. Biogeographic analysis of the globally distributed harmful algal bloom species Alexandrium minutum (Dinophyceae), based on LSU rRNA and ITS sequences, and microsatellite markers. Journal of Phycology 45(2):454-463.

Erdner, D.L., J. Dyble, M.L. Parsons, R.C. Stevens, K.A. Hubbard, M.L. Wrabel, S.K. Moore, K.A. Lefebvre, D.M. Anderson, P. Bienfang, R.R. Bidigare, M.S. Parker, P. Moeller, L.E. Brand, and V.L. Trainer. 2008. Centers for Oceans and Human Health: a unified approach to the challenge of harmful algal blooms. Environmental Health 7(S2):S2(17pp.)