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Steven Wilhelm




Toxic cyanobacterial blooms

We are examining factors that influence toxin production and cellular proliferation of the cyanobacterium Microcystis. This work is a component of a multi-institutional, multi-national effort. It will provide insight on the reoccurrence of this harmful algal bloom species in lakes around the world, including the United States, Canada and China.   Current tools involve genomic, metagenomic and metaproteomics tools to examine the factors that cause blooms to occur at the discovery phase, then field studies coupled to quantitative molecular tools at the validation phase.

The ecology of viruses in aquatic systems

Viruses are a major cause of mortality in aquatic systems, but in spite of suggestions that they are important in nutrient recycling, only minimal quantitative evaluations of this process exist. Preliminary data demonstrate that viruses can mediate rapid transfers of elements to bacteria and other plankton. As prokaryotic organisms represent the majority of the living biomass in the ocean, viral lysis of autotrophic and heterotrophic prokaryotes represents a little-studied source of potentially limiting nutrients to marine organisms.

As part of these studies several genomic efforts are underway, involving the development of quantitative molecular tools to dissect cyanophage communities as well as single-virus genomic techniques with researchers at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences) to study viral leviathans (giant viruses) in the ocean.   Genomic sequencing and annotation is followed up with quantitative molecular tools to develop a better understanding of the ecology of these giant viruses in the ocean.

Global carbon cycling, climate change and oceanic systems

Research in marine systems is employing biomolecular probes to understand how microorganisms influence carbon and nutrient flow through oceanic environments in order to better inform models for global carbon cycling and climate change. Work in the Pacific ocean is developing an understanding of how nutrient stoichiometric ratios influences microbial diversity and function.


  • B.S., 1989, University of Western Ontario
  • Ph.D., 1994, University of Western Ontario
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, 1995-1997, The University of Texas & The University of British Columbia
  • NSERC Visiting Scientist, 1997-1998, Environmental Canada



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