Professor of Microbial Oceanography, Ecology and Genomics
Integrative Oceanography Division
Andrew E. Allen is a Joint Professor of microbial oceanography and ecology between the Integrative Oceanography Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI). He received his PhD in Ecology from the University of Georgia in 2002. After several years as a postdoctoral scholar at Princeton University and at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France he joined the faculty at JCVI 2007. In 2013 he assumed a faculty position at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.
Current projects in the Allen laboratory are concerned with development of new knowledge and new hypotheses related to gene function, biochemical pathways, ecophysiology and other genome-scale characteristics that typify and distinguish the major microeukaryotic phytoplankton lineages. Marine microbes underpin the function of the earth’s biosphere and serve as indicators of ocean change. Photosynthetic marine microbes account for around half of global photosynthesis annually and together viruses, bacteria, and protists account for most of the biomass found in ocean ecosystems and are crucial components of coastal and pelagic ecosystems. Knowledge related to microbial diversity and function represents one of the great data gaps in marine observations, despite the fact that marine food web dynamics and associated carbon, nitrogen, silica and other key ocean ecosystem nutrient cycles are largely regulated by microbial activity.
Various experimental approaches are concerned with characterization of cellular and genome-scale processes that facilitate adaptation to physiological stress and regulate nutrient biogeochemistry. Ongoing ecological and evolutionary genomics studies are aimed at investigation of biogeochemically relevant cellular features that influence the distribution and occurrence of major phytoplankton groups. Other current research interests in the Allen laboratory are related to eukaryotic phytoplankton interactions with bacteria and RNA viruses and associated cellular defense, resistance and interaction mechanisms. Together these studies seek to integrate physiological, bioinformatic, statistical, functional and comparative genomics strategies and data streams to elucidate the regulatory networks that regulate nutrient flux for the major lineages of marine eukaryotic phytoplankton.