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Professor Marian Yallop

Professor Marian Yallop

Professor Marian Yallop
BSc, PhD(Lond)

Professor of Aquatic Microbial Ecology

Area of research

Aquatic Microbiology and Ecosystem Change

Office Life Sciences: 2B18
Life Sciences Building,
24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 39 41207

Summary

In my research group we work on various aspects of the structure and functioning of freshwater, estuarine and marine ecosystems with a particular focus on microbial ecology.  Algae and cyanobacteria occupy a pivotal position at the base of many food chains. However, dominance by particular species can also be detrimental.  Of particular interest are those species living in extreme conditions, often termed extremophiles such as those living in highly polluted waterbodies, or those existing at extremes of temperature and pH.  We seek to understand the factors that lead to dominance and bloom formation of certain species, whilst also gaining insight into methods for controlling their growth where required.

Topics currently being pursued include:

 

  • Microbial community succession and metabolic pathways from ice to vegetated soils in response to glacial retreat

  • The role of ice algae in ice sheet melt in Greenland.
  • Impacts of ocean acidifcation on coralline algae

  • Taste and ddours in drinking water reservoirs

  • Ecotoxicology: impacts of anthropogenic stressors including heavy metals, pesticides and nanoparticles on the structure and functioning of biota in aquatic ecosystems.  

  • Using benthic diatoms to develop a predictive tool to measure ecological status in rivers and lakes

  • Control of cyanobacteria in drinking water reservoirs

 

Clear water macrophyte dominated lake

 

Biography

My research career began with a PhD work on control of phytoplankton blooms in Thames Valley Reservoirs. From there I carried out postdoctoral work modelling oxygen deficits in the Medway Estuary, UK, studying impacts of eutrophication in the Great Lakes, Canada, and quantifying the utility of nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria as fertilizers of Bangladesh Rice fields. Subsequently I studied for a PGCE at Cambridge University and taught for a number of years. I resumed my research career at Bristol University focusing on the role of benthic microbial biofilms in mudflat sediment stabilization; this work contributing to an impact assessment of building the Severn Barrage. I obtained a lectureship at Bristol in 1993, and was appointed a Senior Lectureship in 2003. More recent work has focused on identifying the functional roles made by various biotic elements (plants, waterbirds, bloom forming algae and benthic biofilms) in polluted freshwater ecosystems in order that we can recommend effective restoration programmes.  In response to recent legislation in the Water Framework Directive and collaborating with the Environment Agency and other UK institutions, we have recently developed predictive tools, using benthic diatoms in biofilms, to assess the ecological status of UK rivers and lakes along a gradient of eutrophication. In the last decade my research has taken me further afield. A recent highlight was the discovery of large blooms of algae growing on the surface of the ice on the Greenland Ice Sheet. The presence of screening pigments in these extremophile species may have important implications for ice sheet melt.  

Topics currently being pursued include:

  • Microbial community succession and metabolic pathways from ice to vegetated soils in response to glacial retreat
  • Impacts of ocean acidifcation on coralline algae
  • Taste and Odours in drinking water reservoirs
  • Ecotoxicology: impacts of anthropogenic stressors including pesticides and nanoparticles on the structure and functioning of biota in freshwater ecosystems.  

Activities / Findings

I recently found blooms of green algae carving out an existence directly on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Photophysiological measurements indicate that the ice algae likely use screeing mechanisms to downregulate photosynthesis when exposed to high levels of irradiance and UVR. These extremophiles through their photophysiology, likely play an important role in changing albedo and may impact melt rates on the ice sheet. 

Teaching

I teach at all undergraduate levels on aspects of marine and freshwater ecology. I teach Microbial Evolution in Level 1, Marine Ecology and Physiology at Level 2 and Ecology: Theory and Practice at Level 3. For the past three years I have been Director for the part-time MSc in Ecology and Management of the Natural Environment. 

Keywords

  • Ecotoxicology
  • Biofilms
  • Phytoplankton
  • Photophysiology
  • Nanoparticles
  • Pesticides
  • Extremophiles

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Courses

Professor Yallop currently teaches 4 courses:

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