Daniel L. Distel

dan distelOGL, Research Professor

Throughout my career, I have been fascinated by the diversity of marine life and the processes that create and sustain this remarkable diversity. One of these diversity drivers is symbiosis: the integrated coexistence of different species. Through competitive and cooperative interactions, symbiotically coexisting species create new functionalities and new niches that mold the evolution of the symbiotic partners. I have focused much of my work on symbiotic interactions between bacteria and marine animals. These symbioses are virtually universal, as few if any marine animals are devoid of microbial partnerships. The results of symbiosis can be quite fantastic. For example, through symbiotic associations with bacteria that live inside their cells, some animals have gained the ability to feed on bizarre dietary items including natural gas, hydrogen sulfide, and wood. Such symbioses are powerful model systems for studying co-evolution, mechanisms of infection, and processes of energy metabolism.

Education

  • Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Research Fellow 1991-94
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, Postdoctoral Fellow 1988-91
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MA, Postdoctoral Fellow 1987-88
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, Ph.D. Marine Biology 1987
  • Cook College, Rutgers University, NJ Biology B.S. 1979

Academic Honors

  • 1987-88 Surdna Foundation Award, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • 1979 Graduated with Highest Honors in Biological Sciences
  • 1978 G. H. Cook Honors Scholar

Professional Appointments

  • 2004- present, Executive Director, Ocean Genome Legacy Foundation, Center for Marine Genomic Research, New England Biolabs, Beverly, MA.
  • 2000-2004, Associate Professor, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology Department and School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono.
  • 1994-00, Assistant Professor, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology Department and School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono.