Dr Claire MM Gachon

        Photo of Dr Claire Gachon near a seaweed farm

Molecular Phycologist

I am a molecular plant pathologist researching the ecology, physiology and genomics of diseases in algae. Working with a broad range of algae and pathogens, I increasingly focus on applied topics, especially macroalgal breeding and disease management in industrial set-ups.

I currently lead the worldwide GlobalSeaweed network and coordinate the Marie Curie ITN consortium ALFF.

Contact details:

Research interests

Originally trained as a molecular plant pathologist, I have a long-standing track record of funding capture towards researching the ecology, physiology and genomics of diseases in algae.

Initially, I have investigated the interaction between the intracellular oomycete pathogen Eurychasma dicksonii and the brown algal genome model Ectocarpus siliculosus, using mostly biochemistry, molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics. I have participated to several seaweed genome projects, including Ectocarpus, Chondrus and Porphyra.

My research now encompasses a much broader range of algae and pathogens, with an increasingly pronounced focus on applied topics, especially macroalgal breeding and disease management in industrial set-ups. I also play a key role in attracting infrastructure and networking grants for SAMS.

Current research projects

Assemble+ Association of European Marine Biological Laboratories Expanded. Funded by EU H2020. SAMS Co-PI. 2017-2021

Genetic diversity exploitation for innovative macro-algal biorefinery (GENIALG). Funded by EU H2020. SAMS Lead PI, 2017-21

European marine biological research infrastructure cluster to promote the blue bioeconomy (EMBRIC). Funded by EU H2020. SAMS Lead PI, 2015-18

Algal microbiome - friends & foes (ALFF). Funded by EU H2020. Coordinator. 2015-18

GlobalSeaweed: A global initiative in tackling emerging issues in seaweed aquaculture. Funded by NERC. PI. 2014-17

Major past projects

Heritability of disease resistance in brown algae (HERDIR). Genomic Fund. PI. 2014-16

MultiMARCAP: A versatile platform for multidisciplinary marine computing applications. NERC Big Data equipment. PI. 2013

Defense and growth induction in seaweeds: An alternative to crop losses and quarantine protocols (DEFGRIN). Genomia Fund. PI. 2013-15

Genomics of marine algae and their pathogens: a transcriptomic picture of pathogenicity, disease and resistance using the Ectocarpus-Eurychasma model. NERC New Investigator grant. PI. 2011-15

Disease and immunity in marine brown algae (DIMBA). EU FP7 Marie Curie ERG grant. PI. 2008-11

Molecular and ecological investigations into the infection process of Eurychasma dicksonii on brown algae. NERC SOFI standard grant. Co-I. 2008-12

Pioneering post-genomics approaches for the study of algal diseases. Research Fellowship. EU FP6 funded Marie Curie EIF Postdoctoral Fellowship. 2006-2008

Teaching undergraduate

2010-present: Marine Science BSc lecturer 'Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (year 2), Marine Conservation (year 3)

2006-08: Marine Science BSc lecturer in biology

2008: BSc Hons lectures (4.5 hrs) on intercellular communications in plants. Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris) 

Teaching postgraduate

2015-present: NERC GlobalSeaweed Summer School (PhD level) Exploitation and conservation of algal genetic resources; algal diseases. 

2006-present: Lectures and oral examinations (MSc) Préparation Agrégation SVT (Paris Sud - Ecole Normale Supérieure): covering phytopathology, molecular and cellular plant biology

SAMS Continuous Professional Development courses: Algal molecular biology and bioinformatics (2011-14) and algal biotechnology (2011-16)

Current research students

Noreen Hiegle (PhD student, SAMS UHI) 2015-present

Andrea Garvello (PhD student, SAMS UHI) 2015-present

Srilakshmy Lakshminarayanapuram Harikrishnan (PhD student, Univ. Ghent, Belgium) 2015-present

Pedro Murúa-Andrade (PhD student, University of Aberdeen) 2014-present

Alumni research students

Amerssa Tsirigoti (PhD - University Athens, Greece) 2011-15

Undine Achilles-Day (MSc - SAMS UHI) 2009-11

Martina Strittmatter (PhD - SAMS UHI) 2007-11

Postdoctoral researchers

Dr Marie-Mathilde Perrineau, SAMS: 2017-present

Dr Yacine Badis, SAMS: 2015-present

Dr Martina Strittmatter, SAMS: 2014-2016

Dr Mélanie Gerphagnon, visiting from Université Clermont Ferrand, France: 2014-15

Dr Antonios Zambounis, visiting PDRA from University of Thessaly, Greece: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013

Peer reviewed publications

  1. De Clerck, O., Kao, S.M., Bogaert, K.A., Blomme, J., Foflonker, F., Kwantes, M., Vancaester, E., Vanderstraeten, L., Aydogdu, E., Boesger, J. and Califano, G., Gachon CM 2018. Insights into the evolution of multicellularity from the sea lettuce genome. Current Biology, 28 (18), pp.2921-2933.
  2. Rad-Menéndez, C., Gerphagnon, M., Garvetto, A., Arce, P., Badis, Y., Sime-Ngando, T. and Gachon, C.M., 2018. Rediscovering Zygorhizidium affluens Canter: Molecular Taxonomy, Infectious Cycle, and Cryopreservation of a Chytrid Infecting the Bloom-Forming Diatom Asterionella formosa. Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 84(23), pp.e01826-18.
  3. Badis, Y., Klochkova, T.A., Strittmatter, M., Garvetto, A., Murúa, P., Sanderson, J.C., Kim, G.H. and Gachon, C.M., 2018. Novel species of the oomycete Olpidiopsis potentially threaten European red algal cultivation. Journal of Applied Phycology, pp.1-12.
  4. Allewaert, C. C., Hiegle, N., Strittmatter, M., De Blok, R., Guerra, T., Gachon, C. M. & Vyverman, W. (2018) Life history determinants of the susceptibility of the blood alga Haematococcus to infection by Paraphysoderma sedebokerense (Blastocladiomycota). Algal Research, 31, p. 282-290.
  5. J Brodie, SG Ball, F-Y Bouget, CX Chan, O De Clerck, JM Cock, CMM Gachon, AR Grossman, T Mock, J Raven, M Saha, AG Smith, A Vardi, HS Yoon, D Bhattacharya. (2017) Biotic interactions as drivers of algal origin and evolution. New Phytologist http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nph.14760
  6. Brawley, SH, Blouin, NA, Ficko-blean, E, Wheeler, GL, Lohr, M, Goodson, HV, Jenkins, JW, Blaby-haas, CE, Helliwell, KE, Chan, CX, Marriage, TN, Bhattacharya, D, Klein, AS, Badis, Y, Brodie, J, Cao, Y, Collén, J, Dittami, SM , Gachon, CMM, Green, BR & 30 others. (2017) Insights into the red algae and eukaryotic evolution from the genome of Porphyra umbilicalis (Bangiophyceae, Rhodophyta) PNAS http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1703088114
  7. J Brodie, CX Chan, O De Clerck, JM Cock, SM Coelho, CMM Gachon, AR Grossman, T Mock, J Raven, AG Smith, HS Yoon, D Bhattacharya (2017) The Algal Revolution. Trends in Plant Science doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2017.05.005
  8. Valero M, Guillemin M-L, Destombe C, Jacquemin B, Gachon CMM, Badis Y, Buschmann AH, Camus C, Faugeron S. (2017) Perspectives on domestication research for sustainable seaweed aquaculture Perspectives in Phycology doi: 10.1127/pip/2017/0066.
  9. Gachon CMM, Strittmatter M, Badis Y, Fletcher KI, van West P, Müller DG. (2017) Pathogens of brown algae: culture studies of Anisolpidium ectocarpii and A. rosenvingei reveal that the Anisolpidiales are uniflagellated oomycetes. European Journal of Phycology doi: 10.1080/09670262.2016.1252857.
  10. Fletcher KI, van West P, Gachon CMM (2016). Nonagonal cadherins: a new protein family found within the Stramenopiles. Gene 593: 64-75.
  11. Strittmatter M, Grenville-Briggs L, Breithut L, van West P, Gachon CMM, Küpper FC (2016). Infection of the brown alga Ectocarpus siliculosus by the oomycete Eurychasma dicksonii induces oxidative stress and halogen metabolism. Plant Cell & Environment 39: 259–271.
  12. Strittmatter M, Guerra T, Silva J, Gachon CMM (2016). A new flagellated dispersion stage in Paraphysoderma sedebokerense, a pathogen of Haematococcus pluvialis. Journal of Applied Phycology 28: 1553-1558.
  13. Gerphagnon M, Macarthur DJ, Latour D, Gachon CMM, Van Ogtrop F, Gleason FH, Sime-Ngando T. Microbial players involved in the decline of filamentous and colonial cyanobacterial blooms with a focus on fungal parasitism. (2015) Environmental Microbiology 17:2573-2587.
  14. Lipinska A, Cormier A, Luthringer R, Peters AF, Corre E, Gachon CMM, Cock JM, Coelho SM (2015) Sexual dimorphism and the evolution of sex-biased gene expression in the brown alga Ectocarpus. Molecular Biology & Evolution 32: 1581-1597.
  15. Loureiro R, Gachon CMM, Rebours C. (2015) Promises and challenges of seaweed domestication at an unprecedented pace. New Phytologist doi: 10.1111/nph.13278.
  16. Tsirigoti A, Beakes GW, Hervé C, Gachon CMM, Katsaros C. (2014) Attachment, penetration and early host defense mechanisms during the infection of filamentous brown algae by Eurychasma dicksonii. Protoplasma, doi: 10.1007/s00709-014-0721-1.
  17. Gachon CMM, Heesch S, Küpper FC, Achilles-Day UEM, Campbell CN, Clarke A, Dorrell RG, Field J, Gontarek S, Rád-Menendez C, Saxon RJ, Veszelovski A, Guiry MD, Gharbi K, Blaxter M, Day JG. (2013) The CCAP KnowledgeBase: linking protistan and cyanobacterial biological resources with taxonomic and molecular data. Systematics & Biodiversity 11: 407-413.
  18. Tsirigoti A, Küpper FC, Gachon CMM and Katsaros C (2013). Filamentous brown algae infected by the marine, holocarpic oomycete Eurychasma dicksonii: first results on the organization and the role of cytoskeleton in both host and parasite. Plant Signaling & Behavior doi: 10.4161/psb.26367.
  19. Tsirigoti A, Küpper FC, Gachon CMM and Katsaros C (2013). Cytoskeleton organization during the infection of three brown algal species Ectocarpus siliculosus, Ectocarpus crouaniorum and Pylaiella littoralis by the intracellular, marine oomycete Eurychasma dicksonii. Plant Biology 16: 272-281.
  20. Collén J, [..],Gachon CMM, [..] Zambounis A [..], Wincker P and Boyen C. (2013). Genome structure and metabolic features in the red seaweed Chondrus crispus shed light on the evolution of the Archaeplastida. Proc. Natl. Ac. Sci. USA. 110:5247–5252.
  21. Strittmatter M, Gachon CMM, Müller DG, Kleinteich J, Heesch S, Tsirigoti A, Katsaros C, Kostopoulou M, and Küpper FC. (2013). New records of intracellular eukaryotic pathogens challenging brown macroalgae in the East Mediterranean Sea, with emphasis on LSU rRNA data of the oomycete pathogen Eurychasma dicksonii. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 104:1–11.
  22. Zambounis A, Strittmatter M & Gachon CMM. (2013) Investigations of chronic stress and disease resistance in the genome model marine seaweed Ectocarpus siliculosus. Aquatic Botany 104: 147–152
  23. Wawra S, Agacan M, Boddey JA ,Davidson I, Gachon CMM, Zanda M, Grouffaud S, Whisson SC, Birch PRJ, Porter AJ, van West P. (2012). The avirulence protein 3a (AVR3a) from the potato pathogen Phytophthora infestans, forms homodimers through its predicted translocation region and does not specifically bind phospholipids. Journal of Biological Chemistry 287(45):38101-38109
  24. Zambounis A, Elias M, Sterck L, Maumus F & Gachon CMM. (2012). Highly dynamic exon shuffling in candidate pathogen receptors... What if brown algae were capable of adaptive immunity? Molecular Biology and Evolution 29(4): 1263-1276.
  25. Gleason FH, Küpper FC, Amon JP, Picard K, Gachon CMM, Sime-Ngando T, Marano AV and Lilje O. (2011) Zoosporic true fungi in marine ecosystems: a review. Marine and Freshwater Research 62: 383-393
  26. Evariste E, Gachon CMM, Callow ME, Callow JA. (2012) Development and characteristics of an adhesion bioassay for ectocarpoid algae Biofouling 28(1):1-14.
  27. Grenville-Briggs L*, Gachon CMM*, Strittmatter M, Sterck L, Küpper FC, van West P. (2011) A molecular insight into algal-oomycete warfare: cDNA analysis of Ectocarpus siliculosus infected with the basal oomycete Eurychasma dicksonii PLoS1 6: e24500. (*: equal contribution)
  28. RobideauGP, de CockAWAM, [..], Gachon CMM, [..], Ristaino JB and Lévesque CA. (2011) DNA barcoding of oomycetes with cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI). Molecular Ecology Resources. doi 10.1111/j.1755-0998.2011.03041.x
  29. Katsaros CI, Varvarigos V, Gachon CMM, Brand J, Motomura T, Nagasato C, and Küpper FC. (2011) Comparative immunofluorescence and ultrastructural analysis of microtubule organization combined with SSU/ITS sequencing in Uronema sp., Klebsormidium flaccidum, K. subtilissimum, Stichococcus bacillaris and S. chloranthus (Chlorophyta) Protist 162: 315-331.
  30. Lévesque CA, [...], Gachon CMM, [...], and Buell CR. (2010) Genome sequence of the necrotrophic plant pathogen, Pythium ultimum, reveals original pathogenicity mechanisms and effector repertoire. Genome Biology 11: R73.
  31. Gachon CMM, Sime-Ngando T, Strittmatter M, Chambouvet A, Kim, G-H. (2010). Algal diseases: spot light on a black box. Trends in Plant Science 15: 633-640.
  32. Cock JM, [...], Gachon CMM, [...], Strittmatter M, [...], and Wincker P. (2010) The Ectocarpus genome and the independent evolution of multicellularity in the brown algae. Nature 465: 617–621.
  33. Gachon CMM, Strittmatter M, Müller, DG, Kleinteich J, Küpper FC (2009). Detection of differential host susceptibility to the marine oomycete pathogen Eurychasma dicksonii by real-time PCR: Not all algae are equal. Applied & Environmental Microbiology 75: 322-328.
  34. Müller DG, Gachon CMM, Küpper FC (2008). Axenic clonal cultures of filamentous brown algae: initiation and maintenance. Cahiers de Biologie Marine 49: 59-65.
  35. Sekimoto S, Beakes GW, Gachon CMM, Müller DG, Küpper FC, Honda D (2008). The development, ultrastructural cytology, and molecular phylogeny of the basal oomycete Eurychasma dicksonii, infecting the filamentous phaeophyte algae Ectocarpus siliculosus and Pylaiella littoralis. Protist 159: 299-318.
  36. Gachon CMM, Day JG, Campbell CN, Pröschold T, Saxon RG, Küpper FC (2007). The Culture Collection for Algae ad Protozoa (CCAP): a biological resource for protistan genomics. Gene 406: 51-57.
  37. Gachon CMM, Küpper H, Küpper FC, Setlik I (2006). Single-cell chlorophyll fluorescence kinetic microscopy of Pylaiella littoralis (Phaeophyceae) infected by Chytridium polysiphoniae (Chytridiomycota). European Journal of Phycology 41: 395-403.
  38. Langlois-Meurinne M, Gachon CMM, Saindrenan P (2005). Pathogen-responsive expression of glycosyltransferase genes UGT73B3 and UGT73B5 is necessary for resistance to Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology 139: 1890-1901.
  39. Gachon CMM, Langlois-Meurinne M, Henry Y, Saindrenan P (2005). Transcriptional co-regulation of secondary metabolism enzymes in Arabidopsis: functional and evolutionary implications. Plant Molecular Biology 58: 229-245.
  40. Gachon CMM, Langlois-Meurinne M, Saindrenan P (2005). Plant secondary metabolism glycosyltransferases: the emerging functional analysis. Trends in Plant Science 10: 542-549.
  41. Gachon C, Mingam A, Charrier B (2004). Real-time PCR: what relevance to plant studies? Journal of Experimental Botany 55: 1445-1454.
  42. Gachon C, Baltz R, Saindrenan P (2004). Over-expression of a scopoletin glucosyltransferase in Nicotiana tabacum leads to precocious lesion formation during the hypersensitive response to tobacco mosaic virus but does not affect virus resistance. Plant Molecular Biology 54: 137-146.
  43. Gachon C and Saindrenan P (2004). Real-time PCR monitoring of fungal development in Arabidopsis thaliana infected by Alternaria brassicicola and Botrytis cinerea. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 42: 367-371.

Patent Application

M Vallet, M Strittmatter, GH Kim, CMM Gachon, S Prado “Prevention or treatment in algae of diseases induced by protistan pathogens” (PCT/FR2016/050137).

Book chapters and miscellaneous contributions

  1. EJ Cottier-Cook, N Nagabhatla, Y Badis, M Campbell, T Chopin, W Dai, J Fang, P He, CL Hewitt, GH Kim, Y Huo, Z Jiang, G Kema, X Li, F Liu, H Liu, Y Liu, Q Lu, Q Luo, Y Mao, FE Msuya, C Rebours, H Shen, GD Stentiford, C Yarish, H Wu, X Yang, J Zhang, Y Zhou, CMM Gachon. (2016) “Safeguarding the future of the global seaweed aquaculture industry”. Policy brief, SAMS-UNU INWEH.
  2. The Ectocarpus Genome Consortium (multi-author contribution). (2012) “The Ectocarpus genome and brown algal genomics”, in Advances in Botanical Research. Ed. by G. Piganeau.
  3. Marano AV, Pires-Zottarelli CLA, de Souza JI, Glockling S, Leaño E, Gachon CMM, Strittmatter M, Gleason FH. (2012) “Hyphochytriomycota, Oomycota and Perkinsozoa” in “Marine Fungi”, Ed. by G. Jones.
  4. Strittmatter M, Gachon CMM, Küpper FCEcology of lower oomycetes”. (2009). In "Oomycete Genetics and Genomics: Diversity, Plant and Animal Interactions, and Toolbox." Ed. by S. Kamoun & K. Lamour.
  5. Mingam A, Gachon C, Charrier B (2004). Advances in Plant Physiology Ed. by A. Hemantaranjan. 7: 423-458.
  6. Gachon C and Saindrenan P (2005). "Quantification par PCR en temps réel du développement des champignons Alternaria brassicicola et Botrytis cinerea sur Arabidopsis thaliana." Cahier des Techniques de l'INRA Special issue pp 127-129.
  7. Editing of three chapters of a scientific outreach encyclopedia: Règne végétal, Ed. Bordas (1998).

Elected Council Member and Meeting Secretary

British Phycological Society (2013-present)

Scientific & Technical Advisory Board

“A Universal taxonomic framework and integrated reference gene databases for Eukaryotic biology, ecology, and evolution” (2016-present)

Advisory Board of the Heterokont Tree of Life NSF consortium (Hawaii, 2009)

Steering committee of NERC National Biomolecular Analysis Facility (2011-15)

Nominated member of the NERC "-omics" TAP Advisory & Implementation Group (2012-present)

Board of Advisors / ad hoc referee

New Phytologist (2016-present) 

Trends in Genetics, Genome Biology, ISME Journal, Plant Journal, PLoS1, FEMS Microbiology & Ecology, Mycological Research, Hydrobiologia, Plant Methods, Planta, Plant Pathology, Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Protist, European Journal of Phycology, Journal of Applied Phycology, Botanica Marina, Aquatic Botany, Cahiers de Biologie Marine…

Invited keynote speaker

Forum Blue Cluster 2015 (St Malo, Nov 15, France); Journées Jean Chevaugeon (Aussois, Jan 14, France); 53rd Conference of the Czech Phycological Society (Ostrava, Aug. 12, Czech Rep.) Israel -French Mini-Symposium “Quantitative Methods in Plankton Ecology: from individuals to ecosystems” (Israel, Feb 10);

11th International Phycological Congress (Szczecin, Aug. 2017, Poland); 6th ISAP Congress (Nantes, Jun 2017); Seagriculture (Aveiro, Sep 16, Portugal); Royal Society Into the Genome meeting (London; Jun 16, UK); 6th annual meeting of the EFOR network (Paris, Feb 15, France); SOFILAC (Latino-American Society for Phycology, Oct 2014, Mexico); BBSRC Phyconet workshop (Cambridge, Sep 14, UK); Annual Conference of the Korean Phycological Society (Wando, Apr 14, Korea ); ASLO science meeting (Otsu, Jul 12, Japan); APPF 2011 (Yeosu, Oct 11, Korea).

Conference organisation (organising committee, chair and /or session organiser for scientific conferences)

Joint 7G workshop on European seaweed production & marketability (SAMS, 2015)

6th European Phycology Conference (2015, London, UK)

1st Environmental -Omics Synthesis Conference (2013, Cardiff, UK)

7th International Ectocarpus Conference (2012, Roscoff, France)

ASLO (2012, Otsu, Japan)

Asia-Pacific Phycological Forum (2011, Yeosu Korea;

UK NERC “–omics” workshop (2011, Oban UK)

British Phycological Society (2010, Oban UK)

5th International Ectocarpus Conference (2008, Oban UK)


Professional memberships

British Phycological Society

International Society for Phycology

International Society for Applied Phycology

Association des Anciens Elèves de l’ENS

Society for Applied Microbiology (until 2016)

Society for Experimental Biology (until 2012)

Genetics Society of America (until 2010)

Outreach / public engagement

Creative fashion design based on marine science: This joint project undertaken with the start-up Crubag in 2014 communicated scientific outputs of my NERC New Investigator grant on algal diseases to the general public. Microscopy pictures of diseased seaweed were used as the basis for the creative design of a fashion collection. The “Gachon Collection” has been exhibited many times in regional, national and international scientific, outreach and fashion events. 

EU-wide ALFF outreach activities: I coordinate the outreach activities of the Marie Curie ALFF programme. In particular, I collaborate with VLIZ (Belgium) and two Art schools to produce professional exhibition material on algal themes. This material is intended to be exhibited at the Royal Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh, the Ocean Explorer Centre (SAMS), the festival of the Sea (Oban), several phycological conferences, and by partners of the consortium. We also recently organised a 3-month exhibit on algae in the Naturmuseum of Constance (Germany, Jan-Mar 17), using a collection of award-winning photographs supplied by the British Phycological Society. I have also facilitated that the same exhibit is now displayed at the Seaweed World Expo (Wando, Korea, Apr 17 – 1 million+ visitors expected over 4 weeks).

Employment history

2013-present: Senior Lecturer in Molecular Phycology. SAMS

2008-13: Lecturer in Molecular Phycology. SAMS

2006-08: Marie Curie Intra-European Postdoctoral Fellow

2004-06: Lecturer (Attaché Temporaire d’Enseignement et de Recherche). Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France

2001-04: Research and Teaching PhD Fellow. Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France


2010 Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches, Université Paris-Sud, France

2001-05: PhD in Plant Physiology. Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France (très honorable)

2001 Final degree in Molecular and Cell biology, Université Strasbourg I (très bien)

2001 Master in Biology / Biochemistry. Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris (très bien)

2000 Agrégation in Life Sciences (ranked 1st/~1500 applicants; highest French teaching qualification)

1997 Entry competition of the Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris (ranked 9th / ~1000 applicants)