Colleen Durkin

Colleen Durkin

Research Faculty

Department: Biological Oceanography
Lab: Plankton Ecology and Biogeochemistry


phone: (831) 771-4431
office: 413b MLML Main lab


I am a biological oceanographer who studies phytoplankton and sinking particles.  My work currently focuses on quantifying the "biological pump": the process by which particles sink out of the surface ocean and export carbon to the deep ocean, effectively sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.  Carbon is fixed into organic matter in the surface ocean by phytoplankton, which can either sink directly, aggregate and sink, or be eaten by zooplankton and sinking inside their fecal pellets.  My research identifies which phytoplankton are influencing carbon export, how their responses affect carbon export, and which particle types are responsible for carbon export.  Ultimately, my goal is to increase quantitative observations of carbon export in the ocean and improve predictions of the ocean carbon cycle.  I currently focus on imaging, image processing, and machine learning to identify particles.  I also use molecular methods to further resolve the biological composition of sinking particles and the physiology and diversity of the organisms driving these processes.  Field, lab, and computational work are equally important in this research.

Research Interests: 
  • Phytoplankton
  • Genetics
  • Silica
  • Diatoms
  • Carbon cycle and the biological pump
Curriculum Vitae:
Selected Publications
  • Howard E.M., C.A.Durkin, G.M.M. Hennon, F. Ribalet, R.H.R. Stanley. 2017 Biological
    production, export efficiency, and phytoplankton communities across 8000 km of the South
    Atlantic: Basin scale similarity with mesoscale variability. Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 31,
  • Estapa, M., C. A. Durkin, K. O. Buesseler, R. Johnson, M. Feen. 2017. Carbon flux from biooptical
    profiling floats: calibrating transmissometers for use as optical sediment traps. Deep Sea
    Research I. 120:100-111
  • Durkin, C. A., J. A. Koester, S. J. Bender, E. V. Armbrust. 2016. The evolution of silicon
    transporters in diatoms. Journal of Phycology 52:716-731
  • Durkin, C. A., B. A. S. Van Mooy, S. T. Dyhrman, K. O. Buesseler. 2016. Sinking
    phytoplankton associated with carbon flux in the Atlantic Ocean. Limnology and Oceanography
    61: 1172-1187
  • Durkin, C. A., Estapa, M. L., K. O. Buesseler. 2015. Observations of carbon export by small
    sinking particles in the upper mesopelagic. Marine Chemistry.175: 72-81
    Bender, S.J., C.A. Durkin, C.T. Berthiaume, R.L. Morales, E.V. Armbrust. 2014.
    Transcriptional responses of three model diatoms to nitrate limitation of growth. Frontiers in
    Marine Science, 1: 1-15. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2014.00003
  • Durkin, C.A., S.J. Bender, K.Y.K. Chan, K. Gaessner, D. Grunbaum, E.V. Armbrust. 2013.
    Silicic acid supplied to coastal diatom communities influences cellular silicification and the
    potential export of carbon. Limnology and Oceanography. 58: 1707-1726.
  • Durkin, C.A., A. Marchetti, S.J. Bender, T. Truong, R. Morales, and E.V. Armbrust. 2012.
    Frustule-related gene transcription and the influence of diatom community composition on silica
    precipitation in an iron-limited environment. Limnology and Oceanography 57: 1619-1633.
  • Marchetti, A.M., D.M. Schruth, C.A. Durkin, M.S. Parker, R. Kodner, C.T. Berthiaume, R.
    Morales, A.E. Allen, and E.V. Armbrust. 2012. Comparative metatranscriptomics identifies
    molecular bases for the physiological responses of phytoplankton to varying iron availability.
    PNAS. 109: E317-E325
  • Rhodes, L.D., C.A. Rice, C.M. Greene, D.J. Teel, S.L. Nance, P. Moran, C.A. Durkin, and S.B.
    Gezhegne. 2011. Nearshore ecosystem predictors of a bacterial infection in juvenile Chinook
    salmon. Marine Ecology Progress Series 432: 161-172
  • Ribalet, F., A. Marchetti, K.A. Hubbard, K. Brown, C.A. Durkin, R. Morales, M. Robert, J.E.
    Swalwell, P.D. Tortell, and E.V. Armbrust. 2010. Unveiling a phytoplankton hotspot at a narrow
    boundary between coastal and offshore waters. PNAS. 107: 16571-16576.
  • Durkin, C.A., T. Mock, and E.V. Armbrust. 2009. Chitin in diatoms and its association with the
    cell wall. Eukaryotic Cell. 8: 1038-1050.
  • Mock, T., M. P. Samanta, V. Iverson, C. Berthiaume, M. Robison, K. Holtermann, C. Durkin,
    S.S. BonDurant, K. Richmond, M. Rodesch, T. Kallas, E. L. Huttlin, F. Cerrina, M. R.
    Sussmann, and E. V. Armbrust. 2008. Whole-genome expression profiling of the marine diatom
    Thalassiosira pseudonana identifies genes involved in silicon bioprocesses. PNAS 105:1579-
  • Bowler, C., and others. 2008. The Phaeodactylum genome reveals the evolutionary history of
    diatom genomes. Nature 456: 239-244.
  • Rhodes, L.D., C.A. Durkin, S.L. Nance, C.A. Rice. 2006. Prevalence and analysis of
    Renibacterium salmoninarum infection among juvenile Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus
    tshawytscha in North Puget Sound. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 71: 179–190.

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Biological Oceanography Lab