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I am a marine biologist with interests spanning all aspects of plankton (virus, bacteria, algae, mixotrophs, zooplankton), from experimental physiology, ecology through to (and now especially) modelling.

I have worked on projects ranging from ocean acidification and ocean-scale production, harmful algal blooms, to commercial exploitation of algal growth and aquaculture.

My main interests now are in marine plankton mixotrophy (notably via the MixITiN project; ) and in optimising commercial microalgal production.

A core component of my work is modelling, for which a series of interconnecting acclimative, multi-nutrient, variable stoichiometry models have been developed. The primary applications of these are in studies of trophic dynamics for biogeochemical and ecological analyses. A secondary application is in the guise of systems-biology applications to commercial production of microalgal biomass, cost-benefit analyses and optimization.

A free e-book to guide biologists in using systems dynamic modelling in dynamic ecology is available: please email me, or check

I work with colleagues both within the UK (notably PML, NOCS) and internationally (notably EU, USA and Australia).

Find me at ResearchGate -


MixITiN [MSCA H2020]; 2017-2021 €2.88 (PI A Mitra, Swansea)

EnhanceMicroALgae [INTERREG]; 2017-2020 (Lead ANFACO, Spain)

Pilots4U [H2020]; 2017-2019 (Lead BBEU, Belgium)



SEACAMS [ERDF]; 2010-15; £2.2M (Swansea University component)

EUROBASIN [FP7 Integrated Science]; 2011-14; £100k (Swansea University component)

Improved understanding of the potential population, community and ecosystem impacts of OA for commercially important species [NERC, Defra, DECC]; 2011-14; £700k

Placing marine mixotrophs in context: modelling mixotrophy in a changing world [Leverhulme International Network]; 2011-14; £100k

Energetic Algae (EnAlgae) [ERDF]; 2011-15; £5M

H+ fluxes in phytoplankton - a mechanistic and modelling study of their physiological roles and impact upon community responses to ocean acidification [NERC]; 2012-15; £45k to KJF

MacroBioCrude [EPSRC]; 2013-18; £1.5M

Areas of Expertise

  • plankton modelling
  • plankton physiology
  • commercial algal production
  • ocean acidification


  1. Wells, M., Karlson, B., Wulff, A., Kudela, R., Trick, C., Asnaghi, V., Berdalet, E., Cochlan, W., Davidson, K., Rijcke, M., Dutkiewicz, S., Hallegraeff, G., Flynn, K., Legrand, C., Paerl, H., Silke, J., Suikkanen, S., Thompson, P., Trainer, V. Future HAB science: Directions and challenges in a changing climate Harmful Algae 91 101632
  2. Chrachri, A., Hopkinson, B., Flynn, K., Brownlee, C., Wheeler, G. Dynamic changes in carbonate chemistry in the microenvironment around single marine phytoplankton cells Nature Communications 9 1
  3. Lin, C., Flynn, K., Mitra, A., Glibert, P. Simulating Effects of Variable Stoichiometry and Temperature on Mixotrophy in the Harmful Dinoflagellate Karlodinium veneficum Frontiers in Marine Science 5
  4. Flynn, K. Dynamic Ecology - an introduction to the art of simulating trophic dynamics. Swansea University Swansea University
  5. Flynn, K., Mitra, A., Bode, A. Toward a mechanistic understanding of trophic structure: inferences from simulating stable isotope ratios Marine Biology 165 9
  6. Ghyoot, C., Lancelot, C., Flynn, K., Mitra, A., Gypens, N. Introducing mixotrophy into a biogeochemical model describing an eutrophied coastal ecosystem: The Southern North Sea Progress in Oceanography 157 1 11
  7. Mayers, J., Ekman Nilsson, A., Albers, E., Flynn, K. Nutrients from anaerobic digestion effluents for cultivation of the microalga Nannochloropsis sp. — Impact on growth, biochemical composition and the potential for cost and environmental impact savings Algal Research 26 275 286
  8. Mitra, A., Flynn, K., Leles, S., Stoecker, D., Hansen, P., Calbet, A., McManus, G., Sanders, R., Caron, D., Not, F., Hallegraeff, G., Pitta, P., Raven, J., Johnson, M., Glibert, P., Våge, S. Oceanic protists with different forms of acquired phototrophy display contrasting biogeographies and abundance Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284 1860 20170664
  9. Flynn, K., Kenny, P., Mitra, A. Minimising losses to predation during microalgae cultivation Journal of Applied Phycology 29 4 1829 1840
  10. Kenny, P., Flynn, K. Physiology limits commercially viable photoautotrophic production of microalgal biofuels Journal of Applied Phycology 29
  11. Flynn, K., Mitra, A. Why Plankton Modelers Should Reconsider Using Rectangular Hyperbolic (Michaelis-Menten, Monod) Descriptions of Predator-Prey Interactions Frontiers in Marine Science 3
  12. Flynn, K., Clark, D., Wheeler, G. The role of coccolithophore calcification in bioengineering their environment Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 283 1833 20161099
  13. Cripps, G., Flynn, K., Lindeque, P. Ocean Acidification Affects the Phyto-Zoo Plankton Trophic Transfer Efficiency PLOS ONE 11 4 e0151739
  14. Flynn, K., Raven, J. What is the limit for photoautotrophic plankton growth rates? Journal of Plankton Research
  15. Fernandes, J., Papathanasopoulou, E., Hattam, C., Queirós, A., Cheung, W., Yool, A., Artioli, Y., Pope, E., Flynn, K., Merino, G., Calosi, P., Beaumont, N., Austen, M., Widdicombe, S., Barange, M., Pope, E. Estimating the ecological, economic and social impacts of ocean acidification and warming on UK fisheries Fish and Fisheries
  16. Kenny, P., Flynn, K. Coupling a simple irradiance description to a mechanistic growth model to predict algal production in industrial-scale solar-powered photobioreactors Journal of Applied Phycology 28
  17. Kenny, P., Flynn, K. In silico optimization for production of biomass and biofuel feedstocks from microalgae Journal of Applied Phycology 27 1 33 48
  18. Anderson, T., Christian, J., Flynn, K. Modeling DOM Biogeochemistry (Ed.), Biogeochemistry of Marine Dissolved Organic Matter 635 667
  19. Flynn, K., Clark, D., Mitra, A., Fabian, H., Hansen, P., Glibert, P., Wheeler, G., Stoecker, D., Blackford, J., Brownlee, C., Flynn, K., Mitra, A. Ocean acidification with (de)eutrophication will alter future phytoplankton growth and succession Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282 1804 20142604 20142604
  20. Flynn, K., St John, M., Raven, J., Skibinski, D., Allen, J., Mitra, A., Hofmann, E. Acclimation, adaptation, traits and trade-offs in plankton functional type models: reconciling terminology for biology and modelling Journal of Plankton Research 37 4 683 691
  21. Ghyoot, C., Gypens, N., Flynn, K., Lancelot, C. Modelling alkaline phosphatase activity in microalgae under orthophosphate limitation: the case ofPhaeocystis globosa Journal of Plankton Research 37 5 869 885
  22. Cripps, G., Lindeque, P., Flynn, K. Have we been underestimating the effects of ocean acidification in zooplankton? Global Change Biology 20 11 3377 3385
  23. Cripps, G., Lindeque, P., Flynn, K., Flynn, K. Parental exposure to elevated pCO2 influences the reproductive success of copepods Journal of Plankton Research 36 5 1165 1174
  24. Mayers, J., Flynn, K., Shields, R. Influence of the N:P supply ratio on biomass productivity and time-resolved changes in elemental and bulk biochemical composition of Nannochloropsis sp. Bioresource Technology 169 588 595
  25. Clark, D., Flynn, K., Fabian, H., Mock, T. Variation in elemental stoichiometry of the marine diatomThalassiosira weissflogii(Bacillariophyceae) in response to combined nutrient stress and changes in carbonate chemistry Journal of Phycology 50 4 640 651
  26. Hansen, P., Nielsen, L., Johnson, M., Berge, T., Flynn, K. Acquired phototrophy in Mesodinium and Dinophysis – A review of cellular organization, prey selectivity, nutrient uptake and bioenergetics Harmful Algae 28 126 139
  27. Mayers, J., Flynn, K., Shields, R. Rapid determination of bulk microalgal biochemical composition by Fourier-Transform Infrared spectroscopy Bioresource Technology 148 215 220
  28. Flynn, K., Hansen, P. Cutting the Canopy to Defeat the “Selfish Gene”; Conflicting Selection Pressures for the Integration of Phototrophy in Mixotrophic Protists Protist 164 6 811 823
  29. Flynn, K., Mitra, A., Greenwell, H., Sui, J., Flynn, K., Mitra, A. Monster potential meets potential monster: pros and cons of deploying genetically modified microalgae for biofuels production Interface Focus 3 1 20120037 20120037
  30. Flynn, K., Blackford, J., Baird, M., Raven, J., Clark, D., Beardall, J., Brownlee, C., Fabian, H., Wheeler, G. Erratum: Changes in pH at the exterior surface of plankton with ocean acidification Nature Climate Change 2 10 760 760
  31. Rose, K., Allen, J., Artioli, Y., Barange, M., Blackford, J., Carlotti, F., Cropp, R., Daewel, U., Edwards, K., Flynn, K., Hill, S., HilleRisLambers, R., Huse, G., Mackinson, S., Megrey, B., Moll, A., Rivkin, R., Salihoglu, B., Schrum, C., Shannon, L., Shin, Y., Smith, S., Smith, C., Solidoro, C., St. John, M., Zhou, M. End-To-End Models for the Analysis of Marine Ecosystems: Challenges, Issues, and Next Steps Marine and Coastal Fisheries 2 1 115 130
  32. Greenwell, H., Laurens, L., Shields, R., Lovitt, R., Flynn, K., Flynn, K., Lovitt, R., Shields, R. Placing microalgae on the biofuels priority list: a review of the technological challenges Journal of The Royal Society Interface 7 46 703 726
  33. Glibert, P., Allen, J., Bouwman, A., Brown, C., Flynn, K., Lewitus, A., Madden, C. Modeling of HABs and eutrophication: Status, advances, challenges Journal of Marine Systems 83 3-4 262 275
  34. Flynn, K. Ecological modelling in a sea of variable stoichiometry: Dysfunctionality and the legacy of Redfield and Monod Progress In Oceanography 84 1-2 52 65
  35. Finkel, Z., Beardall, J., Flynn, K., Quigg, A., Rees, T., Raven, J., Flynn, K. Phytoplankton in a changing world: cell size and elemental stoichiometry Journal of Plankton Research 32 1 119 137
  36. Mitra, A., Flynn, K. Modelling mixotrophy in harmful algal blooms: More or less the sum of the parts? Journal of Marine Systems 83 3-4 158 169
  37. Flynn, K., Raven, J., Rees, T., Finkel, Z., Quigg, A., Beardall, J. Is the Growth Rate Hypothesis Applicable to Microalgae? Journal of Phycology 46 1 1 12
  38. Flynn, K. Do external resource ratios matter?: Implications for modelling eutrophication events and controlling harmful algal blooms Journal of Marine Systems 83 3-4 170 180
  39. Flynn, K., Irigoien, X., Flynn, K. Aldehyde-induced insidious effects cannot be considered as a diatom defence mechanism against copepods Marine Ecology Progress Series 377 79 89
  40. Flynn, K. Food-density-dependent inefficiency in animals with a gut as a stabilizing mechanism in trophic dynamics Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 276 1659 1147 1152
  41. Flynn, K., Mitra, A., Flynn, K., Mitra, A. Building the "perfect beast": modelling mixotrophic plankton Journal of Plankton Research 31 9 965 992
  42. Raven, J., Beardall, J., Flynn, K., Maberly, S., Flynn, K. Phagotrophy in the origins of photosynthesis in eukaryotes and as a complementary mode of nutrition in phototrophs: relation to Darwin's insectivorous plants Journal of Experimental Botany 60 14 3975 3987
  43. Mitra, A., Flynn, K., Flynn, K. Importance of interactions between food quality, quantity, and gut transit time on consumer feeding, growth, and trophic dynamics 632 646
  44. Flynn, K. Incorporating plankton respiration in models of aquatic ecosystem function (Ed.), Incorporating plankton respiration in models of aquatic ecosystem function 248 266 Oxford Oxford University Press
  45. Flynn, K., Flynn, K. ... and goodbye for now! Journal of Plankton Research 29 12 1021 1021
  46. Flynn, K. Corrigendum New Phytologist 169 4 841 842
  47. Kruskopf, M., Flynn, K. Chlorophyll content and fluorescence responses cannot be used to gauge reliably phytoplankton biomass, nutrient status or growth rate 525 536
  48. Fasham, M., Flynn, K., Pondaven, P., Anderson, T., Boyd, P., Flynn, K. Development of a robust marine ecosystem model to predict the role of iron in biogeochemical cycles: A comparison of results for iron-replete and iron-limited areas, and the SOIREE iron-enrichment experiment Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 53 2 333 366
  49. Flynn, K. Reply to Horizons Article ‘Plankton functional type modelling: running before we can walk’ Anderson (2005): II. Putting trophic functionality into plankton functional types Journal of Plankton Research 28 9 873 875
  50. Flynn, K., Flynn, K. Castles built on sand: dysfunctionality in plankton models and the inadequacy of dialogue between biologists and modellers Journal of Plankton Research 27 12 1205 1210

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  • Macroalgae as Biomass (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Darren Oatley-Radcliffe
  • Microbial methane production in oxic water (awarded 2020)

    Other supervisor: Prof Kam Tang
  • Accounting for mixotrophy in marine microbial food webs (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Dr Aditee Mitra