Biology & Marine Biology

Faculty & Staff

Alison R. Taylor, Professor

photoPh.D., Oxford Brookes University, U.K., 1991
BSc., Leicester University, U.K., 1985
Dobo Hall 113 | (910) 962-2176 | 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403-5915

Cell Biology of Marine Protists

Despite playing a pivotal role in our oceans, relatively little is known about the cell biology of marine protists, a large and diverse group of unicellular organisms which includes both autotrophic and heterotrophic groups. Research in my lab has focussed on the cell biology of diatoms and coccolithophores, two of the most significant groups of phytoplankton with respect to ocean primary productivity and marine biogeochemical cycles. This work has revealed that these organisms, regarded until recently to be essentially plant-like algae, possess a variety of animal-like membrane transport properties. This is supported by the recent availability of genome sequence data which confirms the presence of groups of animal-like genes including those for metabolism, ion channels and transporters. These genes have most likely been acquired from the heterotrophic ancestral host during the secondary endosymbiotic evolutionary origin of the heterokont lineage. To what degree such animal-like properties underpin the environmental physiology and contribute to the global success of these marine autotrophic protists is a driving question in our research. While a comparative approach among a range of phytoplankton and other heterotrophic marine protists is the longer-term goal of our research, work is currently centred on identifying and functionally characterising ion transport mechanisms associated with signalling and homeostasis in diatoms, coccolithophores and foraminifera. To address these questions we use a variety of conventional and novel cell physiology techniques including electrophysiology and high resolution imaging combined with molecular approaches. Current research includes the following topics:

  • Characterisation of phytoplankton membrane transporters
  • Transport processes that underpin cellular homeostasis in calcifying coccolithophores
  • Diatom membrane physiology and signalling
  • Membrane physiology of harmful algae and marine biotoxins
  • Cellular physiology of foraminifera.

Selected Publications (Students and Post-docs in bold)

Walker C., Taylor A.R., Langer G., Sarah Heath, Probert I, Tyrrell T., Brownlee C.
& Wheeler G. (2018). The requirement for calcification differs between ecologically important coccolithophore species. New Phytologist  

Kitchen S.A., Bourdelais A. & Taylor A.R. (2018) Interaction of a dinoflagellate neurotoxin with voltage-activated currents in a marine diatom. PeerJ, 6:e4533;   

Taylor, A.R., Brownlee, C. & Wheeler, G.L. (2017) Cell biology of coccolithophores: Chalking up success. Annual Review of Marine Science. 9: 283-310

Koester, J., Brownlee C.B., and Taylor A.R. (2016) Algal calcification and silicification. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. Nature Publishing Group [in press]

Taylor, A., Brownlee, C. (2016) Calcification. In: The Physiology of Microalgae, Developments in Applied Phycology Vol 6., Michael Borowitzka, John Beardall & John Raven (eds), Springer. [in press]

*Durak G.M., *Taylor A.R., Walker C.E., Probert I., de Vargas C., Audic S., Schroeder D., Brownlee C., Wheeler G.L. (2016). A role for diatom-like silicon transporters in calcifying coccolithophores. Nature Communications 10543 doi:10.1038/ncomms10543 *Equal contribution

Echevarria M.L. Wolfe G. & Taylor A.R. (2016) Bioelectrical regulation of behavior in the marine ciliate Favella sp. Journal of Experimental Biology 219: 445-456 doi:10.1242/jeb.121871

Brownlee C., Wheeler G.L. and Taylor A.R. (2015) Coccolithophore biomineralization: New questions, new answers. Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology 46: 11-16 doi:10.1016/j.semcdb.2015.10.027

Echevarria, M. L., Wolfe, G. V., Strom, S. L., Taylor, A.R. (2014) Connecting alveolate cell biology with trophic ecology in the marine plankton using the ciliate Favella as a model. FEMS Microbial Ecology. 90: 18-38 doi:10.1111/1574-6941.12382

Drescher B., Dillaman R.M., & Taylor A.R. (2012) Calcification in the coccolithophore Schyphosphera apsteinii (Lohman). Journal of Phycology, 48: 1343-1361 [cover article] doi:10.1111/j.1529-8817.2012.01227.x

Taylor, A.R. Brownlee C., Wheeler G.L. (2012) Proton channels in algae: Reasons to be excited. Invited Review: Trends in Plant Sciences, 17: 675-684 doi:10.1016:j.tplants.2012.06.009

McLachlan, D., Taylor, A.R., Geider, R., Underwood, G., Brownlee, C. (2012) Calcium release from intracellular stores is necessary for the photophobic response in the benthic diatom Navicula perminuta (Bacillariophyceae). Journal of Phycology 48: 675-681, doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2012.01158.x

Bloom, A.J., Randall, L., Taylor, A.R. & Silk W.K. (2012) Deposition and of ammonium and nitrate in the roots of maize seedlings supplied with different nitrogen salts. Journal of Experimental Botany. doi:10.1093/jxb/err410

Taylor, A.R, Chrachri, A., Wheeler, G., Goddard, H., Brownlee, C. (2011) A voltage-gated H+ channel underlying pH homeostasis in calcifying coccolithophores. PLoS Biol 9(6): e1001085. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001085.

Echevarria M.L. and Taylor A.R. (2011) Marine algal neurotoxins: Pandora's box or Panacea? Invited article for The Biochemist 33 (3): 14-18.

Cock J.M., Coelho S., Brownlee C., Taylor A.R. (2010) Commentary: The Ectocarpus genome sequence: insights into brown algal biology and the evolutionary diversity of the eukaryotes New Phytologist: 188: 1-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03454.x

Verret, F., Wheeler, G., Taylor, A.R., Farnham, G., Brownlee, C. (2010) Calcium channels in photosynthetic eukaryotes: Implications for evolution of calcium-based signalling. New Phytologist 187: 23-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03271.x

Milne, A., Davey, M.S., Worsfold, P.J., Achterberg, E.P. & Taylor, A.R. (2009). Real-time detection of reactive oxygen species generation by marine phytoplankton using flow injection-chemiluminescence. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 7: 706-715. doi:10.4319/lom.2009.7.706

Taylor, A.R. (2009) A fast Na+/Ca2+- based action potential in a marine diatom. PLoS ONE 4(3): e4966. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004966

McLachlan D, Brownlee C, Taylor A.R., Geider R. and Underwood G. (2009) Light induced motile responses of the estuarine benthic diatoms Navicula perminuta and Cylindrotheca closterium (Baccillariophyceae). Journal of Phycology 45: 592-599. doi:10.1111/j.1529-8817.2009.00681.x

Bowler C, Allen AE, Badger JH, Grimwood, […], Taylor A.R., […], Armbrust EV, Green BR, Van de Peer Y, Grigoriev IV (2008) The Phaeodactylum genome reveals the evolutionary history of diatom genomes. Nature 456: 239-244, doi:10.1038/nature07410

Thompson, S.E.M., Taylor, A.R., Brownlee, C., Callow, M.E., Callow, J.A. (2008) The role of nitric oxide in diatom adhesion in relation to substratum properties. Journal of Phycology 44: 967-976. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.2008.00531.x

Taylor, A.R. Russell MA, Harper G, Collins T, Brownlee CB (2007) Dynamics of the formation and secretion of hetercoccoliths by Coccolithus pelagicus (ssp Braarudii). European Journal of Phycology 42: 125-136. doi:10.1080/09670260601159346