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Mr Nathan Chrismas

Mr Nathan Chrismas

Mr Nathan Chrismas
BSc (Leeds), MRes (Soton.)

Research Collaborator

Area of research

Evolution of cyanobacteria in the cryosphere

University Road,
Clifton, Bristol BS8 1SS
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I'm fascinated by evolutionary processes as a whole, at both organismal and molecular levels. In particular I'm interested in how environmental variability due to geography, climate and nutrient availability can lead to adaptation and diversification.

My current research interests lie with the cyanobacteria, photosynthetic microorganisms that are a fundamental component of the earth system. Cyanobacteria are key players in both the carbon and nitrogen cycles and are presumed responsible for the initial oxygenation of the earth's atmosphere.

During my PhD I'll be carrying out a comprehensive evolutionary study of cyanobacteria adapted to living in cold environments. I'll be asking how cyanobacteria in glacial ecosystems worldwide are related to each other, and how lineages have diversifed during periods of widespread glaciation related to global climate cycles, reaching all the way back to neoproterozoic 'Snowball Earth'.  I'll also be looking at specific adaptations to living in the cold and how their genes might be shared between cyanobacterial taxa.


After a first year studying Microbiology at the University of Leeds, I completed my undergraduate degree in Ecology and Environmental Biology (First Class Honours), specialising during my research project in evolution and population genetics. Between my undergraduate and masters programmes, I recieved scholarship to attend the Microbial Oceanography summer school at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science and worked as a teaching assistant on University of London undergraduate modules in Marine Biology and Microbiology. I joined the University of Southampton for my MRes where I was based at the National Oceanography Centre researching molecular mechanisms of acclimation to nutrient limitation in marine cyanobacteria. For my PhD at Bristol, I will be using comparative genomics to research the molecular basis behind the adaptation of cyanobacteria to glacial ecosystems.




  • Evolution
  • Adaptation
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Phylogeography
  • Phylogenomics



School of Geographical Sciences

Research groups

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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