Dr Alex Innes Thomson

        Head and shoulder photo of Dr Alex Thomson

Molecular phycologist

My research applies molecular techniques to ecological and applied questions. My current work focuses on the ecology and physiology of Antarctic snow algae. Other interests include the population genomics of macroalgae, and the use of eDNA in monitoring biodiversity in seagrass restoration.


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My research involves the use of molecular techniques and data to answer questions on community and population ecology.

The NERC-funded SAGA project aims to improve our understanding of snow algal communities, as well as to increase our understanding of the environmental factors that drive the formation of green and red algal blooms in Antarctica. Here at SAMS we will be using a combination of genomic and metabolomic profiling to better characterise the diversity and physiology of snow algal communities. That data will in turn contribute to improved models of snow algae bloom formation and distribution in the Antarctic.

The NatureScot supported ZoseDNA project is a collaboration with Project Seagrass and Seawilding to enhance biodiversity in a local sea-loch through the restoration of seagrass habitats. My role at SAMS involves measuring changes in sediment carbon at the restoration site, as well as monitoring changes in biodiversity over time through state-of-the-art eDNA approaches.

My previous work looked at genetic diversity, population connectivity, and processes of local adaptation in the kelp species Saccharina latissima using genomic data. The work contributed to the sustainable development of the seaweed industry in Scotland, as well as to wider ecological and conservation questions surrounding genetic diversity in these organisms.


Highlight past projects


Peer-reviewed publications

Thomson AI, Archer FI, Coleman MA, Gajardo G, Goodall-Copestake WP, Hoban S, Laikre L, Miller AD, O’Brien D, Pérez-Espona S, Segelbacher G, Serrão EA, Sjøtun K, Stanley MS (2021) Charting a course for genetic diversity in the UN Decade of Ocean Science.  Evolutionary Applications, 14 (6), pp. 1497-1518 https://doi.org/10.1111/eva.13224


Other publications

Stanley MS, Kerrison PK, Macleod AM, Rolin C, Farley I, Parker A, Billing S-L, Burrows M, Thomson AI, Allen C (2019) Seaweed Farming Feasibility Study for Argyll & Bute. A report by SRSL for Argyll & Bute Council. pp. 190