Maria Maldonado

Canada Research Chair (Phytoplankton Trace Metal Physiology)
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC

Phone: 604-822-4198



Research area(s):

Area of Expertise:

Dr. Maria Maldonado is a Professor in the Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on:

  • Physiological mechanisms and regulation of trace metal acquisition by marine phytoplankton;
  • The role of trace metal availability in controlling the ecology and evolution of marine phytoplankton and bacteria;
  • Interactive effects of N metabolism and Fe acquisition in microorganisms;
  • The role of the biota in controlling biogeochemical cycles of trace elements in the ocean;
  • Trace elements regulation of harmful algal blooms;
  • Substitution of trace metals in Fe-limited marine phytoplankton and bacteria;
  • Elucidating the mechanistic link between variations in glacial-interglacial oceanic Fe bioavailability & phytoplankton assemblages, and the potential impact of phytoplankton productivity/assemblages in past and present climate.

Marine phytoplankton play an important role in the global C cycle by contributing to the export of C from surface waters to the deep ocean. Over the last decade, it has become clear that insufficient Fe inputs limit phytoplankton growth and C export in 30% of the world’s ocean. To improve our understanding of the C cycle and its effect on the climate, it is thus critical to investigate the metabolic pathways that control uptake and utilization of Fe by marine microorganisms. Maria’s research aims to addresses fundamental questions in microbial physiology and trace metal biogeochemical distribution and cycling. In particular, her research investigates the physiological mechanisms and regulation of Fe acquisition by marine phytoplankton and bacteria, as well as trace metal nutrition of Fe-limited microorganisms. Her research approach is multidisciplinary, combining cell physiology, ecology, and ocean biochemistry, and applying state-of-the -art analytical techniques to the study of marine microbial/algal processes. Laboratory physiological investigations of trace metal nutrition and acquisition mechanisms by marine phytoplankton and bacteria are complemented with field research in Fe-limited regions, such as in the Subarctic Pacific and the Southern Ocean, in order to elucidate the occurrence of these physiological mechanisms in the ocean.

Select Presentation(s) / Publication(s):

Flores Ruiz, Bertha Iselle; Anthony, Jack; Waugh, Lori-Jon C.; Kuang, Cheng; Francois, Roger; and Maldonado, Maria T., “Dissolved Cu concentrations in the Strait of Georgia: trends, speciation, and accumulation by local calanoid copepods” (2018). Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. 234.

Kuang, Cheng; Flores Ruiz, Bertha Iselle; Stevens, Samuel; Maldonado, Maria; and Francois, Roger, “Dispersion and removal of two toxic trace metals (Ag and Cd) in the Strait of Georgia” (2018). Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. 233.

Sun, Yuanji; Maldonado, Maria T.; and Francois, Roger, “Biogeochemical cycling of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the Strait of Georgia” (2018). Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference. 389.

Lorenzo, M Rosario & Segovia, María & T. Cullen, Jay & Maldonado, Maria. (2018). Particulate trace metal dynamics in response to increased CO2 and iron availability in a coastal mesocosm experiment. Biogeosciences Discussions. 10.5194/bg-2018-448.

Semeniuk, David & Bundy, Randelle & Posacka, Anna & Robert, Marie & A. Barbeau, Katherine & Maldonado, Maria. (2016). Using 67Cu to Study the Biogeochemical Cycling of Copper in the Northeast Subarctic Pacific Ocean. Frontiers in Marine Science. 3. 78. 10.3389/fmars.2016.00078.

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