Bryndan Durham, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, University of Florida

Bryndan Durham is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Florida and a faculty member of the University of Florida Genetics Institute. Her research focuses on understanding cooperative interactions among marine microbes, with a focus on the metabolic “currencies” that establish ecological networks between phytoplankton and bacteria. Microbial interaction networks often depend on reciprocal metabolic exchange wherein partners alter metabolite production that benefits their corresponding partner, with implications for ocean biogeochemistry and ecosystem stability in a changing climate. Durham received a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2008 from Virginia Tech and a doctorate in microbiology in 2014 from the University of Georgia. During her graduate work, Durham developed model phytoplankton-bacterial co-culture systems to examine metabolic exchange between interacting partners, leading to recognition of several key sulfur-containing currencies. From 2015 to 2019, Durham worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington where she applied molecular and chemical tools in the field to track phytoplankton-bacterial metabolite exchange in natural open-ocean communities. Through these integrative approaches with both laboratory model organisms and field population observations, Durham has uncovered central sulfur metabolites and signaling mechanisms used to facilitate phytoplankton-bacterial interactions. Her findings have been important in establishing organic sulfur as a fundamental currency used in marine microbial networks. More recently, Durham has been investigating the metabolic pathways used in organic sulfur cycling, which are only partially known, and how these pathways are regulated during microbial interactions. She is interested in how phytoplankton-bacterial metabolisms are influenced by environmental conditions, including light and nutrient availability. Such conditions are important controls on phytoplankton productivity, that in turn may alter phytoplankton-bacterial networks that mediate marine elemental and energy cycles.

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