Dion Durnford

Professor, Dept. Chair



Bailey Hall 231


1 506 452 6207

Academic interests

  • Light-harvesting complex evolution and function
  • Plastid evolution and protein targeting
  • Microalgal senescence and cell aging

Brief biography

I have diverse research interests that centre around the evolution and function of pigment-binding proteins in plants and algae called light-harvesting complexes. These proteins bind the pigments that can absorb light and pass this energy on to the photosynthetic machinery to drive the fixing of CO2 from the atmosphere into organic carbon, which is ultimately metabolized to support growth. However, when light levels get too high, a potentially dangerous situation, these proteins can switch to efficient dissipaters of light and conferring some protection to the plant.

I’m interested in this dynamic response to light, both at the level of the light-harvesting complexes and the whole organism. How is the change in light intensity sensed by cells and how is this information communicated to the cellular apparatus to regulate composition and abundance of the photosynthetic apparatus? We’ve looked at light responses at the level of individual genes, whole transcriptomes, the protein level, and at the level of metabolites in an effort to understand this response.

Recently, my lab has become interested in the processes of senescence in green microalgae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in particular. We are curious about the factors that control the longevity of the culture once it reaches the stationary phase of the growth cycle and how it is able to protect itself from light and other stressors under these senescent conditions.

Courses taught

  • BIOL1001 Biological principles
  • BIOL3031 Cell Signalling
  • BIOL4272 Science Communication

Selected research

Pattarasiri Rangsrikitphoti, and Dion G Durnford (2019) Transcriptome profiling of Bigelowiella natans in response to light stress. 66, 316-333. doi:10.1111/jeu.12672

Neilson, Jonathan AD, Pattarasiri Rangsrikitphoti, and Dion G Durnford1 (2017) ¬Evolution and regulation of Bigelowiella natans light-harvesting antenna system. J. Plant Physiology. 217, 68-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jplph.2017.05.019. May 31, 2017

Durnford DG and SD Schwartzbach (2017) Protein targeting to the plastid of Euglena. In. Euglena: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology. Eds. Schwartzbach, S and S. Shigeoka. Springer International Publishing. Pg 183-205

Davis, M., O. Fiehn, and DG Durnford (2013) Metabolic acclimation to excess light intensity in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Plant Cell Environ. 36 (7), 1391-1405. doi:10.1111/pce.12071

Humby PL, E Snyder, and DG Durnford (2013) Conditional Senescence in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (Chlorophyceae). J of Phycology. 49, 389-400. doi:10.1111/jpy.12049