Kirsten M. Müller
Biology Core Facility Manager
Bachelor of Science (BSc) Memorial, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Guelph
Telephone: (519) 888-4567 ext. 32224
Office: Biology 2 245A
(On Maternity Leave: Sept. 1 - Dec. 31, 2012)
The red algae (Rhodophyta) are an ancient lineage with some members being reported in the fossil record as far back as 1.2 billion years. This group is of considerable economic importance since they contain compounds (agar, carrageenan, etc.) that are used extensively as thickeners in products such as yogurt, ice cream and toothpaste. Genera such as Porphyra (aka. Nori, laverbread) and Palmaria (a.k.a. Dulse) are important food sources and are global billion dollar aquaculture industries. In addition, the red algae are a critical group in the evolution of photosynthetic life on earth through secondary endosymbiosis of chloroplasts. This simply means that several lineages currently capable of photosynthesis have gained that ability by engulfing and keeping other photosynthetic organisms inside them. For example, red algae are the common ancestors to the chloroplasts contained in the division, Heterokontophyta (e.g. large kelps common to Atlantic and Pacific coasts). This was a pivotal event in the evolution of photosynthetic life. Despite the obvious importance of this group, very little is known about what are considered “Bangiophyte” species. Even more fascinating is that even though the fossil, Bangiomorpha, exhibits the first example of sexual reproduction in the fossil record (1.2 billion years ago), many of these groups do not appear to undergo sexual reproduction or have lost the ability entirely. My research focuses on speciation, taxonomy and evolution of sexuality within this enigmatic group and uses molecular techniques to discern if sexual reproduction is or is not occurring within populations. This research will provide a foundation for current genome sequencing projects within the red algae. I am currently a member of the steering committee for the sequencing of the Porphyra genome (DOE/JGI). In addition, I am also interested in the impact and genetics of nuisance algae (e.g. Cladophora and Chara in Laurentian Great Lakes), invasive species (e.g. Bangia atropupurea in the Great Lakes) and their biogeography within problem areas. I am also studying Cyanobacteria that release toxins and taste and odour compounds in drinking water (Lake Ontario) from a molecular viewpoint in order to determine if particular genotypes present in the water body are contributing to water fouling events.
- Gantt, E., Brawley, S. & the Porphyra genome Consortium Porphyra: Progession toward a Multicellular State. To be published in “Red Algae in the Genomic Age” Eds. J. Seckbach & D. Chapman. Springer Publishing Co. Invited book chapter. In press.
- Müller, K.M., Lynch, M.D.J. & Sheath, R.G. Moving the Bangiophytes into the genomic era. To be published in “Red Algae in the Genomic Age” Eds. J. Seckbach & D. Chapman. Springer Publishing Co. Invited book chapter. In press.
- Duan, J, Müller, K.M., Charles, T.C., Vesely, S. & Glick, B.R. 2009. 1-Aminocyclopropane-1-Carboxylate (ACC) Deaminase Genes in Rhizobia from Southern Saskatchewan. Microbial Ecology. 57: 423-436.
- Steinmoeller, J.D., Fujiki, K., Arya, A., Müller, K.M., Bols, N.C., Dixon, B. & Duncker, B.P. 2008. Characterization of Oncorhynchus mykiss (Rainbow Trout) CHK2 and its potential as a genotoxicity biomarker. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. C. Toxicol. Pharmacol. (currently an epub)
- Doxey, A.C, Lynch, M.D.J., Müller, K.M., Meiering, E.M. & McConkey, B. 2008. Insights into the evolutionary origins of clostridial neurotoxins from analysis of the Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin gene cluster. BMC Evolutionary Biology 8:316.
- Lynch, M.D.J, Sheath, R.G. and Müller, K.M. 2008. ISSR-estimated intraspecific genetic variation and the phylogenetic position of Bangia maxima (Bangiales, Rhodophyta). Phycologia 47: 599-613.
- Adey, W.H., Hommersand, M.H., Lindstrom, S.L & Müller, K.M. 2008. The Biogeography of Arctic Endemic Seaweeds: No paradox here. Journal of Phycology. 44: 1384-1394.
- Yoon, H. S., Müller, K.M., Sheath, R.G., Ott, F.D. & Bhattacharya, D. 2006. Defining the major lineages of red algae (Rhodophyta). Journal of Phycology. 42: 482-492.