Patrick Brunson, PhD Student

Patrick Brunson is a graduate student in the Allen lab studying the biochemistry of harmful algal blooms (HABs).  He is also co-advised by Professor Bradley Moore (SIO/Skaggs).  Prior to attending SIO, Patrick completed his B.S. in Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia where he studied aging and the biological clock in the model fungus Neurospora crassa.  He first came to San Diego as a Summer intern at the J. Craig Venter Institute, working on projects related to development of episomal transformation systems in diatoms.

Research Interests:

  • Secondary Metabolism in marine microalgae
  • Diatom biotechnology and synthetic biology
  • Genetic Monitoring of HABs
  • Enzymology
  • Physiology of Pseudo-nitzschia diatoms 

Patrick is interested in using and developing modern molecular monitoring techniques to track HAB progression at the level of biosynthetic genes.  His current research focuses on the genetic basis of domoic acid (DA) biosynthesis in Pseudo-nitzschia spp. diatoms.  By applying these DA biosynthesis (dab) genes to both laboratory and environmental studies, he hopes to further our understanding of toxin production in marine HABs.

Patrick has been awarded a Dickinson-McCrink fellowship to fund first year studies (2015-2016) and is also an alumnus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grant for Chemistry-Biology Interface (CBI) at UC San Diego (PI: Prof. Michael Burkhart).  He also enjoys scuba diving and is a PADI certified Dive Master.

Selected Publications:

  1. Brunson JK, Mckinnie SMK, Chekan JR, Mccrow JP, Miles ZD, Bertrand EM, Bielinski VA, Luhavaya H, Oborník M, Smith GJ, Hutchins DA, Allen AE, Moore BS. Biosynthesis of the neurotoxin domoic acid in a bloom-forming diatom. Science. 2018;365(6409):1356–1358.
  2. Karas BJ, Diner RE, Lefebvre SC, McQuaid J, Phillips APR, Noddings CM, Brunson JK, Valas RE, Deerinck TJ, Jablanovic J, Gillard JTF, Beeri K, Ellisman MH, Glass JI, Hutchison III CA, Smith HO, Venter JC, Allen AE, Dupont CL, Weyman PD. Designer diatom episomes delivered by bacterial conjugation. Nature Communications. 2015;6:6925.
  3. Brunson JK, Griffith J, Bowles D, Case ME, Arnold J. lac-1 and lag-1 with ras-1 affect aging and the biological clock in Neurospora crassa. Ecol Evol. 2016;6(23):8341–8351.