Larry E. Brand


(305) 421-4138
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Professor, Department of Marine Biology and Ecology - Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Physiology, ecology and evolution of phytoplankton

Research interests

Phytoplankton ecology with a special interest in the interaction of ecological and evolutionary processes (Publication numbers refer to my RSMAS website)


I am interested in the amount of genetic variability and differentiation that exists within and among populations of a species of algae, and the extent to which it allows species to adapt genetically to varying environmental conditions, thus influencing its ecological niche. See publications 4, 7, 8, 9, 14, 20, 35, and 48.

Examples: Publs. 8 and 20:

8. Brand, L.E. 1981. Genetic variability in reproduction rates in marine phytoplankton populations. Evolution 35:1117-1127.

20. Brand, L.E. 1991. Review of genetic variation in marine phytoplankton species and the ecological implications. Biol. Oceanogr. 6:397-409.


I am interested in the evolutionary constraints that lead different phylogenetic lineages of algae to have different adaptations to the same environmental conditions, restricting them to different ecological niches. See publications 12, 16, and 22.

Example: Publ. 12: Brand, L.E., W.G. Sunda, and R.R.L. Guillard. 1983. Limitation of marine phytoplankton reproductive rates by zinc, manganese and iron. Limnol. Oceanogr. 28:1182-1198.

Nutritional trace metals

I am interested in the role that trace metals may play in limiting phytoplankton growth in the ocean, particularly iron, manganese, zinc, and cobalt, and how their evolutionary history has influenced different phylogenetic groups in their adaptations to these trace metals. See publications 12, 22, 23, 28, and 29.

Example: Publ. 22: Brand, L.E. 1991. Minimum iron requirements of marine phytoplankton and the implications for the biogeochemical control of new production. Limnol. Oceanogr. 36: 1756-1771.

Toxic trace metals

I am interested in the role that toxic trace metals such as copper, cadmium, and zinc may play in influencing phytoplankton community structure, and how their evolutionary history has influenced different phylogenetic groups in their adaptations to these trace metals. See publications 16, 18, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30.

Example: Publ. 16: Brand, L.E., W.G. Sunda, and R.R.L. Guillard. 1986. Reduction of marine phytoplankton reproduction rates by copper and cadmium. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 96:225-250.

Physiological ecology

In addition to the effects of trace metals, I am interested in how other environmental factors such as light and salinity affect different phytoplankton species differentially. I examine the phylogenetic and environmental patterns to understand the ecological-evolutionary interactions. See publications 1, 5, 6, 11, 13, and 24.

Example: Publ. 5: Brand, L.E., and R.R.L. Guillard. 1981. The effects of continuous light and light intensity on the reproduction rate of twenty-two species of marine phytoplankton. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 50:119-132.

Phytoplankton influences on the environment

While most of my research is on how phytoplankton are influenced by various environmental factors, they in turn alter their environment by excreting soluble organic compounds and gases. See publications 18, 25, 26, 27, 30, and 33.

Example: Publ. 27: Moffett, J.W., L.E. Brand, P.L. Croot and K.A. Barbeau. 1997. Cu speciation and cyanobacterial distribution in harbors subject to anthropogenic Cu inputs. Limnol. Oceanogr. 42: 789-799.

Harmful Algal Blooms

Some algal species, particularly cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates, produce toxins that affect other biota, including humans. Some of the toxins are fast acting, causing gastrointestinal and/or neurological disorders within minutes, hours, or days. Others can cause liver damage, neurodegenerative diseases, or cancer, which do not develop until years or decades later. I am studying Harmful Algal Blooms of cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates in Florida coastal waters. See publications 21, 29, 31, 32, 37, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 52, and 53.

Examples: Publs. 39, 49, and 52:

39. Brand, L.E. and A. Compton. 2007. Long-term increase in Karenia brevis abundance along the southwest Florida coast. Harmful Algae 7: 232-252.

49. Brand, L.E., J. Pablo, A. Compton, N. Hammerschlag, and D.C. Mash. 2010. Cyanobacterial blooms and the occurrence of the neurotoxin, beta-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), in South Florida aquatic food webs. Harmful Algae 9: 620-635.

52. Brand, L.E. 2012. Toxic Harmful Algal Blooms: Natural and anthropogenic causes. Pp. 19-51, In: New Trends in Marine and Freshwater Toxins: Food Safety Concerns, Ed. by A.G. Cabado and J.M. Vieites, Nova Science Publishers, New York.


I am interested in the production of algal biomass for various purposes, including food for aquaculture, energy, and pharmaceuticals. I am also interested in developing new techniques to insure that aquaculture does not generate environmental problems. See publications 17, 19, and 38.

Example: Publ. 19: Brand, L.E. 1990. The isolation and culture of microalgae for biotechnological applications. pp. 81-115, In: Isolation of Biotechnological Organisms from Nature, Ed. by D.P. Labeda, McGraw-Hill.

Basic biology of algae

I specialize on algae, so an understanding of their basic biology is necessary. See publications 2, 3, 10, 15, and 34.

Example: Publ. 34: Brand, L.E. 2002. Phytoplankton (Planktonic Algae) in the Marine Environment. Pp. 2502-2518, In: The Encyclopedia of Environmental Microbiology, Vol. 5, Ed. by G. Bitton, John Wiley and Sons, New York.

Funding for this research at various times has been by NSF, NIH, NOAA, EPA, NPS, DOE, ONR, ACOE, and the Cove Point Foundation.