Professor Carole Llewellyn
Telephone: (01792) 606168
Room: Academic Office - 110
First Floor
Wallace Building
Singleton Campus

My interests are in microalgae and cyanobacteria, how they function in their natural environment and how they can be used to help tackle society’s big challenges. These big challenges relate to climate change, human health, bioenergy, food-security, aquaculture, waste-water and industrial biotechnology.

My early research focused on the study of chlorophyll and carotenoid pigments to understand phytoplankton community composition and function in relation to the carbon cycle and climate change. From this I developed an interest in algal biotechnology using my knowledge on microalgal carotenoids and UV sunscreen compounds working with industry to develop personal care products for anti-aging and cosmetics. (

This has led to my wider interest in understanding metabolism in microalgae and large scale cultivation of microalgae for industrially useful products including for food and for sustainable chemicals to replace existing petroleum based chemicals.

In recent years I have led a number of projects funded by the Research Councils and the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate-UK) working with industry to develop sustainable chemicals from microalgae. I also led the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) component of the European INTERREG- EnAlgae project ( I am currently working with colleagues at PML and in India on a project funded by BBSRC researching algal:bacterial interactions using microbiological and molecular techniques with a future aim of producing biofuel from microalgae cultivated on wastewater.

Currently I am investigating metabolomics as a new systems biology approach to better understand metabolism in aquatic microbes both in their natural environment and for applied industrial research.

I am keen to develop student interest in all aspects of algal research.

Areas of Expertise

  • Microalgae and cyanobacteria
  • Phytoplankton ecology
  • Microbial biodiversity and biogeochemistry
  • Chlorophylls and carotenoids
  • Microbial UV suncreens - mycosporine-like amino acids
  • Algal biotechnology
  • Metabolomics


  1. Kallscheuer, N., Moreira, C., Airs, R., Llewellyn, C., Wiegand, S., Jogler, C., Lage, O. Pink‐ and orange‐pigmented Planctomycetes produce saproxanthin‐type carotenoids including a rare C 45 carotenoid Environmental Microbiology Reports
  2. Silkina, A., Kultschar, B., Llewellyn, C. Far-Red Light Acclimation for Improved Mass Cultivation of Cyanobacteria Metabolites 9 8 170
  3. Sosa-Hernández, J., Rodas-Zuluaga, L., Castillo-Zacarías, C., Rostro-Alanís, M., Cruz, R., Carrillo-Nieves, D., Salinas-Salazar, C., Grunewald, C., Llewellyn, C., Olguín, E., Lovitt, R., Iqbal, H., Parra-Saldívar, R. Light Intensity and Nitrogen Concentration Impact on the Biomass and Phycoerythrin Production by Porphyridium purpureum Marine Drugs 17 8 460
  4. Kultschar, B., Dudley, E., Wilson, S., Llewellyn, C. Intracellular and Extracellular Metabolites from the Cyanobacterium Chlorogloeopsis fritschii, PCC 6912, During 48 Hours of UV-B Exposure Metabolites 9 4 74
  5. White, D., Rooks, P., Kimmance, S., Tait, K., Jones, M., Tarran, G., Cook, C., Llewellyn, C. Modulation of Polar Lipid Profiles in Chlorella sp. in Response to Nutrient Limitation Metabolites 9 3 39

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  • BIO103 Plants and Algae; Diversity Form and Function

    Plant lectures cover the structure, life cycles and morphology of the major living Divisions of the Plant Kingdom. Floral structure, pollination, fruit dispersal and seed germination are discussed with particular reference to plant-animal interactions. This is followed by lectures that cover the basic anatomy of higher plants, from the cellular to the whole organism level. Lectures on plant physiology will emphasise flowering plants as whole organisms and concentrate particularly on plant-environment interactions. The topics covered are: photosynthesis; water relations; mineral nutrition; organic translocation; growth; developmental physiology. Aspects of plant ecology, plant-herbivore interactions and the importance of plants in medicine will also be covered. The lectures on plants are complemented by three laboratory practical sessions; Lower plant classification is studied by development of a dichotomous key; Basic anatomy and cell structure are studied microscopically; Physiological experiments illustrate aspects of plant water relations. Additionally, taxonomy and classification of species from the major divisions are studied by demonstrations displaying a wide range of specimens, along with examples of flower structure, pollination types and seed/fruit dispersal. Lectures on microalgae, cyanobacteria and macroalgae will provide an overview on the importance of these photosynthetic organisms in aquatic ecology and in evolution, and in how they can be used to help society. Phenotypic and genotypic taxonomic classification will be introduced followed by morphology and ecology of the main taxonomic classes. An overview of algal measurement techniques will be given. Roles of microalgae within microbial food webs and global biogeochemical cycles including introduction to harmful blooms will be included. This will lead onto how algae are increasingly important in biotechnology and how they can be used to help provide solutions to societal sustainability issues such as climate change, global food security, pollution and developing the bioeconomy. There will be one laboratory practical associated with these lectures, illustrating the diversity of micro and macroalgae and developing microscope techniques.

  • BIO109 Core Skills for Biological Sciences

    This module is divided into three sections, scientific writing, data analysis and chemistry, which will equip students with the core skills needed throughout their degree program. The content of the module includes understanding the different types of data that can be measured and collected, the tools to formally present and analyse data and data analyses, and practical applications of spreadsheet software. There is a 'hands on' focus on dealing with data and developing basic mathematical and statistical analytical skills. Furthermore this module introduces first year undergraduates to the key skill of scientific writing, developing their ability to locate, understand, evaluate and communicate scientific information. Basic chemistry will be covered as a foundation to its importance to biological processes.

  • BIO343 Natural Products that Shape Our World

    Natural product biotechnology lectures will start by introducing how nature can be used to provide solutions to societal sustainability issues such as climate change, global food security, pollution and developing the bioeconomy. Nature has a storehouse of structurally diverse organic molecules with a range of biological activities which directly or indirectly impact on our lives. Lectures will cover how algae, bacteria, fungi, plants and animals can be used to develop natural products for a range of industrial applications including for food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fertilisers, biofuels, bioplastics, pesticides, bioremediation materials, enzymes and research tools. Lectures will also cover how metabolite profiling, genomics and bioinformatics can be used to help discover and develop natural products for industrial application.


  • Extraction and concentration of Mycosporine-like Amino Acids (MAAs) from Chlorogloeopsis fritschii using membrane filtration technology. (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Almudena Ortiz-Urquiza
  • Bacterial communities associated with cultivating Chlorella vulgaris: (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Christopher Coates
  • Pairing anaerobic digestate remediation with microalgae C. vulgaris and cyanobacteria C. fritschii cultivation (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Almudena Ortiz-Urquiza
  • Metabolite profiling of a robust cyanobacterium for industrial biotechnology (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Ed Dudley
  • 'Fine tuning light to optimise pigments in Nannochloropsis sp' (awarded 2017)

    Other supervisor: Dr Alla Silkina

Key Grants and Projects

  • Using flow cytometry and genomics to characterise and optimise microalgal-bacterial consortia cultivated on wastewater to produce biomass for biofuel. (Acronym: W2B). 2013 - 2016

    BBSRC:DBT. Principal Investigator. , £800K to PML

  • Energetic Algae- EnAlgae. Developing sustainable technologies for algal biomass production. 2011 - 2015

    EU:ERDF INTERREG IVB. Principal Investigator for PML. , £450K to PML: £15M project with 20 partners

  • Mapping metabolites in cyanobacteria in response to ultraviolet exposure. CYANOMET. 2013

    NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF): Principal Investigator.

  • Industrial Biotechnology - High Value Chemicals. (BW015F) Extracting high value chemicals from microalgae through industrial biotechnology. 2010

    Collaborating with CPI (Centre of Process Innovation) and efficacy test houses. Principal Investigator. , Technology Strategy Board: (£150K).

  • Transcriptional response of a Section V cyanobacteria to UVB radiation (UVBR). 2010

    NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF): Principal Investigator.

  • Mapping metabolites in marine microbes in the Western English Channel (METMAP). 2010

    NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF): Principal Investigator.

  • Low Carbon Programme: Biorefinery carbon capture and conversion into industrial feedstocks as replacements for petrochemicals. 2009 - 2011

    Technology Strategy Board: Co-Investigator. In collaboration with PML Applications Ltd, Boots and Cognis (BASF)

  • Integrated approach to cost-effective production of biodiesel from photosynthetic microbes. 2009 - 2014

    DEFRA-Link and BBSRC .Co-Investigator in securing proposal although not involved in project.

  • Renewable Material Programme: Optimising yield of antioxidants and sunscreens in microalgae for sustainable biosynthesis of ingredients for health and beauty products. BBSRC-DEFRA LINK. Principal Investigator.In collaboration with Boots and Codif. 2007 - 2010

    BBSRC-DEFRA LINK. In collaboration with Boots and Codif. Principal Investigator., £500K matched with £500K in-kind

  • Identification and sustainable extraction of active compounds from marine microalgae. 2006 - 2009

    Technology Strategy Board: In collaboration with Boots and University of Plymouth. Principal Investigator within PML Applications Ltd (PML’s SME)., £500K matched with £500K in-kind

  • Development of Photobioreactor Technology. South West RDA. 2008

    South West RDA., £30K

  • Development of Photobioreactor Technology. 2006 - 2008

    NERC SBRI. Principal Investigator., £250K

  • UVphytoMAA. UV photochemical bleaching of phytoplankton and Coloured Dissolved Organic Matter and the interactive effects on the inhibition of photosynthesis and the production of phytoplankton sunscreeens. 2006 - 2008

    EU Marie-Curie Fellowship Co-Investigator

  • Roles of DMSP and GBT in protection from photoinhibition/photooxidative stress and consequences for DMS and NH3 production. 2005 - 2008

    NERC-SOLAS Co-Investigator.

  • Characterising & exploiting UV-sunscreen compounds from micro-algae. 2004

    DTI – SMART award: Principal Investigator., £80K

  • Boots Company PLC: Natural Products from microalgae. 2003

    Principal Investigator. , £45K

  • Characterisation and commercialisation of carotenoids 2002 - 2004

    Principal Investigator. NERC SBRI., £200K

External Responsibilities

  • Committee Member, BBSRC Follow-on-Fund

    2013 - Present

  • Committee Member, BBSRC iCASE

    2013 - Present

  • Member of Network Management Board, BBSRC- Network in Industrial Biotechnology (NIBB) PhycoNET

    2014 - Present

  • Steering group member of Swansea University’s Centre, for Animal Health and Welfare for Sustainable Food Production

    2014 - Present

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2005 2014 Band 4 Principal Scientist Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), Plymouth, UK