Dr. Neil Price




Lab Members


Liangliang Kong
Ph.D candidate (2012- )

Address: N6/2 Stewart Biology Building | Phone: +1 514-570-6589;
Email: kongliangl@gmail.com

My research:
Marine diatoms are abundant, bloom-forming phytoplankton that play important roles in the marine carbon and silica cycles. Copper (Cu) is an essential micronutrient for phytoplankton growth because of its role as a co-factor in electron transfer proteins in photosynthetic and respiratory pathways, and potentially a limiting resource in parts of the open sea. Previous studies in our lab showed that Cu deficiency in an oceanic diatom Thalassiosira oceanica 1005 is primarily due to a decrease in Cu-containing plastocyanin, which in this species replaces the functionally equivalent Fe-containing cytochrome c6 found in other diatoms. I am now investigating essential Cu-responsive genes involved in Cu transport and metabolism in this model species.

Education background:
B.Sc. in Ocean University of China (2005–2009)
M.Phil. in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2009-2011)

Liangliang Kong, Hongmei Jing, Takafumi Kataoka, Carolyn Buchwald and Hongbin Liu. Diversity and spatial distribution of hydrazine oxidoreductase (hzo) gene in the oxygen minimum zone off Costa Rica. PLoS ONE, 2013, 8: e78275, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078275.

Liangliang Kong, Hongmei Jing, Takafumi Kataoka, Jun Sun and Hongbin Liu. Phylogenetic diversity and spatio-temporal distribution of the nitrogenase gene (nifH) in the northern South China Sea. Aquatic Microbial Ecology, 2011, 65: 15-27, doi:10.3354/ame01531.

Cui Guo, Jianzhen Yu, Tung-Yuan Ho, Lei Wang, Shuqun Song, Liangliang Kong and Hongbin Liu. Dynamics of phytoplankton community structure in the South China Sea in response to the East Asian aerosol input. Biogeosciences, 2012, 9: 1519-1536, doi:10.5194/bg-9-1519-2012.

Cui Guo, Hongmei Jing, Liangliang Kong and Hongbin Liu. Effect of East Asian aerosol enrichment on microbial community composition in the South China Sea. Journal of Plankton Research, 2013, 35: 485-503, doi: 10.1093/plankt/fbt002.

Jie Xu, Hongmei Jing, Liangliang Kong, Mingming Sun, Paul J Harrison and Hongbin Liu. Effect of seawater-sewage cross-transplants on bacterial metabolism and diversity. Microbial Ecology, 2013, 66: 60-72, doi: 10.1007/s00248-013-0207-2.


Colin McDonnell

M. Sc. Candidate (2014- )

Address: N6/2 Stewart Biology Building | Phone: +1 514-435-2357
Email: colin.mcdonnell3@gmail.com

Background Information:
After having done most of his education in France, Colin came to McGill in 2010 to start his B.Sc. in Biology. He started volunteering for the Dr. Neil Price in 2012, working on iron limitation in the ocean. Summer 2013, he started working on the effects of long term phosphorus limitation in green algae, and after graduating, this became his M.Sc. research thesis, which he is currently working on.


The aim of his project is to see if the internal stoichiometry of green algae can adapt and change when exposed to limiting concentrations of phosphate. To do so, he has been growing cultures continuously under phosphate limitation for well over six months to observe an evolutionary response.

Stephanie Shousha
Undergraduate Student, Biology Faculty (2011-2014)

Address: N6/2 Stewart Biology Building | Phone: +1 514-972-7741
Email: stephanie.shousha@gmail.com

Marine diatoms are photosynthetic organisms that use the iron-dependent Cytochrome c6 gene to transfer electrons between cytochrome b6f and photosystem 1 in their photosynthetic apparatus. Previous lab members have found that the oceanic diatom, Thalassiosira oceanica (CCMP 1005), also contains a copper dependent gene, Plastocyanin. This gene is thought to functionally replace Cytochrome c6, and allow T. oceanica to survive in low iron environments.

As an undergraduate student in her last semester in Biology at McGill University, Stephanie is using real-time PCR to look at the levels in expression of both genes under different copper concentrations. Since Cytochrome c6 is thought to be non functional and replaced by Plastocyanin, she hypothesizes that with increased copper concentrations, the levels of the iron-containing cytochrome c6 protein will stay the same. As well, the levels of the copper-dependent plastocyanin gene will increase with increased copper concentrations.

Outside of the laboratory, Stephanie can be found competing for the McGill University Sailing Team, or playing violin with her quartet.

Hyunyung Boo

Undergraduate, U3

Address: N6/2 Stewart Biology Building
Email: hyunyungboo@gmail.com

Hyunyung Boo is a U3 in the departments of Biology and Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences. She spent the summer of 2014 in Bremen, Germany working in a paleoclimate lab (MARUM) and plans to continue exploring different areas of oceanography. Her current research project involves the effects of limiting nitrate levels on phytoplankton growth and evolution. Outside of school she is most likely to be found playing with foster cats or practicing cello.


Eric Han

Undergraduate Student, U1

Address: N6/2 Stewart Biology Building | Phone: +1-514-594-1357
Email: eric.han@mail.mcgill.ca

Eric is a U1 biology major and economics minor. Currently, he assists Liangliang's research observing growth rates of Thalassiosira oceanica 1005 under different copper concentrations. Growth rates are operationalized by the fluorescence value produced by chlorophyll. Additionally, Eric also conducts independent day-long experiments testing hypotheses related to nutrient limiting factors. He plans to soon take his next step in research by designing experiments to measure the toxicity of silver towards Thalassiosira oceanica 1005 under various copper concentrations.

Besides 'research assistant', two perfect words to describe Eric is music junkie. He loves a vast array of genres of music ranging from classical to electronic. This passion for music was brought to life when he learned to play the piano in third grade. When lab coats are off, Eric enjoys mixing music, writing, and going for extended bike rides.
Webpage: Carole Verdone-Smith, Dept. of Biology
Updated: Oct. 7, 2014