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.
- Carbon cycle and the biological pump
- 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
- 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.