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Department of Microbial and Molecular Biology



Mixed planktonWelcome to the Department of Microbial and Molecular Biology at SAMS. This department comprises over 30 staff and students with skills spanning biochemistry to ecology and molecular biology to mathematical modelling.

Our activities focus predominantly on marine micro-organisms, including bacteria, phytoplanton, protozoa and other eukaryotic protists. These organisms are extremely abundant and active in the marine environment and, despite their small size, are the main drivers of marine ecosystems and nutrient cycles. They therefore play a major role in global climate and life-support systems.

Marine microbial communities encompass huge biodiversity and exhibit a diverse array of physiological and biochemical adaptations enabling them to thrive in a variety of environments. This makes them a rich biological resource including a useful source of novel compounds for biotechnological applications. The study of marine microbes is clearly important; however they are also beautiful and fascinating to observe under the microscope!

A wide range of fundamental and applied research projects are currently underway employing observational, experimental and modelling approaches to investigate the biology and ecology of microbes in coastal and ocean habitats from the tropics to the poles. We also conduct research on marine macro-algae (seaweeds).

Professor David Pond

Head of Department



Algal cultures in CCAP

The department is extremely well equipped with a multitude of instruments including

  • Inverted and standard Zeiss microscopes with optional fluorescence illumination and image analysis
  • Confocal microscope
  • Electron microscopes: both a transmission EM and a new environmental scanning electon microscope
  • Mass spectrometer
  • Radiochemistry laboratory  Molecular biol 6
  • Molecular laboratory with PCR, real-time PCR, gel facilities etc
  • Flow cytometer and FlowCAM
  • Microbial culture facilities (CCAP)
  • Cryopreservation facilities (CCAP)



Contact us
Scottish Marine Institute
Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA
T: 01631 559000
F: 01631 559001