Principal Research Scientist
Centre for Marine Microbiology and Genetics
Understanding Marine Microbes & Symbioses Team
Dr Walter Dunlap, a marine bioorganic chemist, has studied the environmental biochemistry and physiology of marine organisms for more than 30 years. Walt was first to report in 1986 the discovery of a novel class of UV-absorbing sunscreens in shallow-water corals and is regarded as a leading scientist in marine photobiochemistry. He has been 3-times appointed Visiting Professor of Biotechnology (U Tokyo), thrice appointed Invitation Fellow by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Visiting Libra Professor of Sciences (U Maine) and twice funded as an Associate Investigator at NSF Palmer Station, Antarctica, for marine research under the "ozone hole". Together with long-standing collaborators, Malcolm Shick (Maine), Yorihiro Yamamoto (Tokyo) and Paul Long (London), research continues to examine the metabolic adaptations of marine organisms to environmental stress and the genetic expression of photoprotective elements in the microbial-invertebrate metagenomes of marine symbioses.
  • 1970: BSc Chemistry, Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont, USA
  • 1975: PhD Chemistry, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, USA
Current Research Activities
My present research activities include:
1) Continue approved research for the UMMS Team Task: Oxidative stress in algal-invertebrate symbioses
2) Conclude research on the NSF-funded project: Effects of trace metal limitation on oxidative stress in zooxanthellae and its role in coral bleaching with M Wells (U Maine), JM Shick (U Maine), PF Long (Kings College London), and CG Trick (U Western Ontario)
3) Commence research on the BBSRC-funded project: Biosynthesis of mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) follows a common genetic pathway in both free-living and symbiotic microorganisms with JM Shick (U Maine) and PF Long (Kings College London)
Expert Committees and Boards
Member Commision dExamen PhD, University Francaise du Pacific, Tahiti, and the Institute Territorial de Researches Medicales Louis Malarde, 1996
Invited Critical Reviewer for the Assessment on Environmental Effects of Ozone Depletion, UNEP Environmental Effects Assessment Panel for the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer & the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) 1998
74 science papers published in international journals (>2500 citations). The following are a selection of recent publicatiions.

Hasbi G, de Nys R, Burns K, Whalan S, Tems U and Dunlap WC (2010). Hepatic coenzyme Q redox balance of fish as a potential bioindicator of environmental contamination by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Biology Letters [published online before print].

Fujisawa A, Dunlap WC and Yamamoto Y (2010) Vitamin E protection in the biochemical adaptation of marine organisms to cold-water environments. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B 157:145-158.

Starcevic A, Akthar S, Dunlap WC, Shick JM, Hranueli D, Cullum J and Long PF (2008) Enzymes of the shikimic acid pathway encoded in the genome of a basal metazoan, Nematostella vectensis, have a microbial origin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 105: 2533-2537.

Dunlap WC, Battershill CN, Liptrott CH, Cobb RE, Bourne DG, Jaspars M, Long PF and Newman DJ (2007). Biomedicinals from the phytosymbionts of marine invertebrates: a molecular approach. Methods 42: 358-376.

Dunlap WC, Jaspars M, Hranueli D, Battershill CN, Peric-Concha N, Zucko J, Wright SH and Long PF (2006) New methods for medicinal chemistry - universal gene cloning and expression systems for production of marine bioactive metabolites. Current Medicinal Chemistry 13: 697-710.

Long PF, Dunlap WC, Battershill CN, Jaspars M (2005) Shotgun cloning and heterologous expression of the patellamide gene cluster as a strategy to achieving sustained metabolite production. ChemBioChem 6: 1760-1765.

Dunlap WC, Fujisawa A, Yamamoto Y and Inoue M (2004) Tropical UV-tolerant bacteria may provide a pharmacomimetic model for anti-aging research and cancer prevention. Marine Biotechnology 6: S223-230.

Shick JM and Dunlap WC (2002) Mycosporine-like amino acids and related gadusols: biosynthesis, accumulation, and UV-protective functions in aquatic organisms. Annual Review of Physiology 64: 223-262.

Yamamoto Y, Fujisawa A, Hara A and Dunlap WC (2001) An unusual vitamin E constituent (alpha-tocomonoenol) provides enhanced antioxidant protection in marine organisms adapted to cold-water environments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 98: 13144-13148.

Dunlap WC and Yamamoto Y (1995) Small molecule antioxidants in marine organisms: antioxidant activity of mycosporine-glycine. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B 112: 105-114.

Karentz D, McEuen FS, Land MC and Dunlap WC (1991) Survey of mycosporine-like amino acid compounds in Antarctic marine organisms: potential protection from ultraviolet exposure. Marine Biology 108: 157 166.

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