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Tatiana Rynearson
Assoc. Professor of Oceanography
Coastal Institute, rm 236

Educational Background

University of Washington
Brown University

Areas of Specialization


My research goals are to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes shaping genetic diversity in the plankton and to examine how those processes affect plankton community structure, function and productivity. Ecologically important events such as environmental adaptation, sexual reproduction, rates of migration and fluctuations in population size are recorded in the DNA of every individual. My approach is to identify and exploit the genetic variation that exists within and between individuals to examine how plankton respond to their environment. I use techniques from the fields of population genetics, genomics, biostatistics, physiological ecology and physical oceanography to examine 1) population genetics and biodiversity of phytoplankton and zooplankton, 2) metabolic responses to nutrient stress in phytoplankton, 3) prey selection in zooplankton, 4) adaptive evolution and speciation of plankton and 5) the relative roles of dispersal and natural selection in determining the structure and productivity of planktonic communities.


Graduate Marine Molecular Ecology, Graduate Plankton Ecology, Graduate Population Genetics, Graduate/Undergraduate Data Analysis and Communication, Graduate/Undergraduate Advances in Genome Biology, Undergraduate Honors projects, Undergraduate Senior Research projects, URI101- Traditions and transformations: a freshman seminar


Director, Narragansett Bay Long Term Monitoring Program (http://www.gso.uri.edu/phytoplankton), Co-director, URI Center of Excellence in the Marine Life Sciences (http://www.gso.uri.edu/seawaterfacilities/CEMLS/Welcome.html), Science co-director, Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting


Gang Chen, Postdoctoral Fellow
Ryan Morse, Postdoctoral Fellow
Kerry Whittaker
Kelly Canesi
Sarah Flickinger
Jenn Bailey
Melissa Mercier
Chris Piecuch
Christopher O'Brien
Nate Andrews
PhD 2009, University of Maryland
PhD 2011, Old Dominion University
MS (2012)
MS (2011)
MS (2010)
undergraduate research
undergraduate research


Collins, S, B. Rost, T. Rynearson (2014) Evolutionary potential of marine phytoplankton under ocean acidification. Evolutionary Applications.  Vol 7(1) 140-155.  doi:10.1111/eva.12120

Rynearson, T.A., K. Richardson, R.S. Lampitt, M.E. Sieracki, A.J. Poulton,M.M. Lyngsgaard, M.J. Perry (2013) Major contribution of diatom resting spores to vertical flux in the sub-polar North Atlantic. Deep Sea Research, Part I, vol 82, 60-71

Boyd P.W., T.A. Rynearson, E.A., Armstrong, F-X. Fu, K. Hayashi, Z. Hu, D.A. Hutchins, R.M. Kudela, E. Litchman, M. R. Mulholland, U. Passow, R.F. Strzepek, K.A. Whittaker, E. Yu and  M.K. Thomas (2013) Marine Phytoplankton Temperature versus Growth Responses from Polar to Tropical Waters – Outcome of a Scientific Community-Wide Study. PLoS One, Vol. 8 (5), e63091. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063091

Duffy, J.E., L. Amaral-Zettler, D.G. Fautin, G. Paulay, T.A. Rynearson, H.M. Sosik, J.J. Stachowicz  (2013) Envisioning a Marine Biodiversity Observation Network. Bioscience 63 (5), 350-361

Whittaker, K., D. Rignanese, R. Olson, T.A. Rynearson (2012) Molecular subdivision of the marine diatom Thalassiosira rotula in relation to geographic distribution, genome size, and physiology. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 12:209, doi:10.1186/1471-2148-12-209

Alexander, H., Jenkins, B.D., Rynearson, T.A., Saito, M.A., Mercier, M.L.  Dyhrman, S.T., (2012) Identifying reference genes with stable expression from high throughput sequence data. Frontiers in Aquatic Microbiology. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00385

Piecuch, C and TA Rynearson (2012) Quantifying dispersal and connectivity of surface waters using observational Lagrangian measurements. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 29, 1127–1138

Dyhrman, S., B. Jenkins, T. Rynearson, M. Saito, M. Mercier, H. Alexander, L. Whitney, A. Drzewianowski, V. Bulygin, E. Bertrand, Z. Wu, C. Benitez-Nelson, and A. Heithoff. (2012) Coordination in the transcriptome and proteome of the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana reveals a diverse phosphorus stress response. PLoS One 7:e33768

Cleary, AC, EG Durbin, TA Rynearson (2012) Meganyctiphanes norvegica krill feeding on sediment in the Gulf of Maine. Marine Ecology Progress Series. Vol 455, 157-172. doi: 10.3354/meps09632

Durbin, E., M. Casas, T.A. Rynearson (2011) Copepod feeding and digestion rates using prey DNA and qPCR. Journal of Plankton Research. doi: 10.1093/plankt/fbr082

Rynearson, T.A. and Palenik, B. (2011) Learning to read the oceans: Genomics of marine phytoplankton. Advances in Marine Biology , Vol 60:1-39

Graff, J and T.A Rynearson (2011) Extraction method influences the recovery of phytoplankton pigments from natural assemblages. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, 9:129-139

Horn, M.G., R.S. Robinson, T. A. Rynearson, D. M. Sigman. (2011) Nitrogen isotopic relationship between diatom-bound and bulk organic matter of cultured polar diatoms. Paleoceanography, 26, PA3208, doi:10.1029/2010PA002080

Wu, Z., B. Jenkins, T. Rynearson, S. Dyhrman, M. Saito, M. Mercier and L. Whitney (2010). "Empirical bayes analysis of sequencing-based transcriptional profiling without replicates." BMC Bioinformatics 11(1): 564.

Rynearson, T.A., EO Lin, EV Armbrust. 2009. Metapopulation structure in the planktonic diatom Ditylum brightwellii (Bacillariophyceae). Protist, 160: 111-121

Bowler, C, AE Allen, JH Badger, J Grimwood, K Jabbari, A Kuo, U Maheswari, C Martens, F Maumus, RP Otillar, E Rayko, A Salamov, K Vandepoele, B Beszteri, A Gruber, M Heijde, M Katinka, T Mock, K Valentin, F Vérret, JA Berges, C Brownlee, J Cadoret, A Chiovitti, CJ Choi, S Coesel, A De Martino, JC Detter, C Durkin, A Falciatore, J Fournet, M Haruta, M Huysman, BD Jenkins, K Jiroutova, RE Jorgensen, Y Joubert, A Kaplan, N Kroeger, P Kroth, J La Roche, E Lindquist, M Lommer,V Martin-Jézéquel, PJ Lopez, S Lucas, M Mangogna, K McGinnis, LK. Medlin, A Montsant, M Oudot-Le Secq, C Napoli, M Obornik, J Petit, BM. Porcel, N Poulsen, M Robison, L Rychlewsk, TA Rynearson, J Schmutz, M Schnitzler Parker, H Shapiro, M Siaut, M Stanley, MJ Sussman, A Taylor, A Vardi, P von Dassow, W Vyverman, A Willis, LS Wyrwicz, DS Rokhsar, J Weissenbach, EV Armbrust, BR Green, Y Van de Peer, IV Grigoriev. 2008. The Phaeodactylum genome reveals the dynamic nature and multi-lineage evolutionary history of diatom genomes. Nature, 456: 239-244

Durbin, E., M. Casas, T.A. Rynearson, and D.C.Smith. 2007 Measurement of copepod predation on nauplii using qPCR of the cytochrome oxidase 1 gene. Marine Biology DOI 10.1007/s00227-007-0843-5

Rynearson, T. A., J.A. Newton and E. V. Armbrust. 2006. Spring bloom development, genetic variation and population succession in the planktonic diatom Ditylum brightwellii. Limnology and Oceanography. 51: 1249-1261

Armbrust, E.V., T.A. Rynearson and B.D. Jenkins. 2006 Genomic insights into diatom evolution and metabolism. In Genome Evolution of Eukaryotic Microbes, Eds. Katz, L.A. and Bhattacharya, D. 201-213

Rynearson, T. A., and E. V. Armbrust. 2005 Maintenance of clonal diversity during a spring bloom of the centric diatom Ditylum brightwellii. Molecular Ecology 14: 1631-1640

Armbrust, E.V. and co-authors. 2004 The genome of the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana: Ecology, evolution and metabolism. Science 306: 79-86

Rynearson, T. A., and E. V. Armbrust. 2004 Genetic differentiation among populations of the planktonic marine diatom Ditylum brightwellii. Journal of Phycology 40: 34-43

Smetacek, V., C. Klaas, S. Menden-Deuer, and T. A. Rynearson. 2002 Mesoscale distribution of dominant diatom species relative to the hydrographical field along the Antarctic Polar Front. Deep Sea Research II 49: 3835-3848.

Rynearson, T. A., and E. V. Armbrust. 2000 DNA fingerprinting reveals extensive genetic diversity in a field population of the centric diatom Ditylum brightwellii. Limnology and Oceanography 45: 1329-1340.

Crawford, R. M., F. Hinz, and T. A. Rynearson. 1997 Spatial and temporal distribution of assemblages of the diatom Corethron criophilum in the Polar Frontal region of the South Atlantic. Deep Sea Research II 44: 479-496.


2013    Rynearson, TA, K. Whittaker, C. Piecuch.  Shaken or stirred? Does physical connectivity explain patterns of gene flow in planktonic diatom populations in the North Atlantic.  International Congress of Protistology, Vancouver, CA.

2013    Rynearson, TA.  Evolution in the Plankton; ecological and biogeochemical implications.  Ocean Carbon and Chemistry Meeting, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA

2013    Whittaker, K. and TA Rynearson Distant cousins? Basin-scale genetic connectivity among populations of the marine diatom Thalassiosira rotula. 2013 ASLO meeting, New Orleans, LA

2013    Cleary, A., E Durbin, and TA Rynearson. Feeding by three Pseudocalanus congeners in the Bering Sea: new trophic linkages and a potential mechanism for niche partitioning. 2013 ASLO meeting, New Orleans, LA

2013    Alexander, H., BD Jenkins, TA Rynearson, M. Saito, MM Mercier, S. Dyhrman. Identifying reference genes with stable expression from high throughput sequence data. 2013 ASLO meeting, New Orleans, LA

2013    Chen, G. and TA Rynearson.  Genetic variation in the marine diatom Thalassiosira gravida. 2013 ASLO meeting, New Orleans, LA

2012 Rynearson, TA, M. Casas, E Durbin. New approaches to understanding trophic transfer and food web connections: a peek under sea ice in the Northern Bering Sea. 2012 ASLO mtg, Otsu, Japan

2012 Perry, MJ,  E. D'Asaro, C. Lee, A. Mahadevan, K. Fennel, M. Alkire, N. Briggs, I. Cetinic, K.Gudmundsson, R. Lampitt, P.Martin, M. Omand, K. Richardson, M. Sieracki, T. Rynearson.  New Views of the Subpolar North Atlantic Spring Bloom, from NAB, 2008. Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Mtg, Woods Hole, MA

2012 Rynearson, TA, K Richardson, R Lampitt, M.E. Sieracki, A. Poulton, M.M. Lyngsgaard, MJ Perry What you see is not what you get: relating diatom species composition in surface waters to carbon flux during a spring bloom in the North Atlantic. 2012 Ocean Sciences Mtg, Salt Lake City

2012 Jenkins, B. D.; Rynearson, T. A.; Dyhrman, S. T.; Saito, M. A.; Chappell, P. D.; Whitney, L. P.; Alexander, H.; Bertrand, E. M. From lab to launch, intergrating biomarkers derived from genomics and proteomics approaches into remote observing platforms 2012 Ocean Sciences Mtg, Salt Lake City

2011 Rynearson, TA. Application of novel molecular methods to examine in situ zooplankton feeding in the Bering Sea. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

2011 Rynearson TA. Connectivity in marine phytoplankton.  University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

2011 Rynearson, T.A., E. Durbin and A. Cleary. DNA analysis of prey in zooplankton: From gut contents to feeding rates. PICES 5th International Zooplankton Production Symposium, Chile

2011 Rynearson, TA. Marine zooplankton on the loose: using molecular methods to examine biogeography, life history and feeding ecology. University of Oklahoma, Program in Ecology and Evolution (Invited seminar)

2011 Rynearson, TA, C. Piecuch. How much does mixing in the surface ocean influence genetic connectivity in the plankton? Combining Lagrangian surface drifters with microsatellite markers. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Annual Meeting, Puerto Rico

2011 Whittaker, K, D. Rignanese, R. Olson, TA Rynearson. Global-scale genetic and physiological variation in the diatom Thalassiosira rotula. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Annual Meeting, Puerto Rico

2011 Dyhrman, S.T., B.D. Jenkins, T.A. Rynearson, M. A. Saito, M.L. Mercier, H. Alexander, L. P. Whitney, A. Drzewianowski, V. V.Bulygin, E. M. Bertrand, Z. Wu, A. Heithoff. Coordination in the transcriptome and proteome of the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana reveals a diverse phosphorus stress response

2011 Mercier, M, LP Whitney, B Jenkins, S. Dyhrman, M. Saito, TA Rynearson. Expression and regulation of a putative phosphate transporter in Thalassiosira pseudonana under phosphate limitation. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Annual Meeting, Puerto Rico

2011 Whitney, LP, M. Mercier, S. Dyhrman, M. Saito, TA Rynearson, B. Jenkins. Response to iron limitation in the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana revealed by global transcriptomic analysis. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Annual Meeting, Puerto Rico

2011 Bailey, J. TA Rynearson, E Durbin. Trophic dynamics in the Bering Sea: Interplay of species diversity, prey spectrum and parasite infection in Pseudocalanus copepods. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Annual Meeting, Puerto Rico

2011 Cleary, A, E Durbin, TA Rynearson. Northern Krill bring sediment carbon back to the pelagic: DNA in Meganyctiphanes norvegica gut contents shows benthic feeding. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Annual Meeting, Puerto Rico

2011 Durbin, E, MC Casas, TA Rynearson. DNA characterization of ice algal and water column protistan communities in the northern Bering Sea during early spring. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography Annual Meeting, Puerto Rico