Erica Young

Biological Sciences


  • PhD, Algal Physiology, Monash University, Australia, 1999
  • BSc Honours, First Class-Plant Biochemistry, University of Western Australia, 1988
  • BSc, Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, 1987


Research Interests

The research in my lab focuses on the ecophysiology of photosynthesis, nutrient acquisition and nutrient limitation in plants, algae and microbes in ecosystem scales from coastal oceans to large lakes to small ponds to micro-ecosystems associated with carnivorous pitcher plants. A key area is Phosphorus Acquisition by freshwater phytoplankton, benthic filamentous algae and bacteria. Our research includes examining expression and function of alkaline phosphatase (AP), use of a range of organic P sources, and the ecological role of viral lysis of bacteria and phytoplankton in release of P in freshwater ecosystems. We are also examining use of natural algal assemblages to strip nutrients from wastewater and produce biomass for biofuels production. In the lab, we employ physiological measurements of metabolic processes including nutrient fluxes, photosynthesis and respiration, enzyme activity and expression, molecular analysis of genes involved in acquisition, assimilation and cycling of nutrients, and genetic analysis of nutrient transformations by microbes. Physiological stress in algae is examined using cell staining assays and chlorophyll a fluorescence with PAM fluorometry and epifluorescence microscopy. The role of viral lysis in P cycling is being examined in field, laboratory and modeling experiments. My research interests also include inorganic carbon acquisition by algae and regulation by variable light, carbon dioxide and nutrient availability.

Selected Publications

Fremin, Brayon J., Bhatt, Ami S., Kyrpides, Nikos C., Global Phage Small Open Reading Frame (GP-SmORF) Consortium, , and Young, Erica B. “Thousands of small, novel genes predicted in global phage genomes.” Cell Reports 39. (2022): 110984.
Strzepek, Robert, Nunn, Brook, Bach, Lennart, Berges, John A., Young, Erica B., and Boyd, Philip. “The ongoing need for rates: can physiology and omics come together to co-design the measurements needed to understand complex ocean biogeochemistry?.” Journal of Plankton Research fbac026. (2022).
Grothjan, Jacob J., and Young, Erica B. “Bacterial recruitment to carnivorous pitcher plant communities: identifying sources influencing plant microbiome composition and function.” Frontiers in Microbiology 13. (2022): 10.3389/fmicb.2022.791079.
Berges, John A., Young, Erica B., Thamatrakoln, Kimberlee, and Taylor, Alison R. “Chapter 14: From genes to ecosystems: using molecular information from diatoms to understand ecological processes.” Advances in Phytoplankton Ecology: Applications of Emerging Technologies. (2022).
Neri, Uri, et al., RNA Virus Discovery Consortium, and Young, Erica B. “Expansion of the global RNA virome reveals diverse clades of bacteriophages.” Cell 185.21 (2022): 4023-4037.
Bittleston, Leonora, Freedman, Zachary, Bernadin, Jessica, Grothjan, Jacob J., Young, Erica B., Record, Sydne, Baiser, Benjamin, and Gray, Sarah. “Exploring microbiome functional dynamics through space and time with trait-based theory.” mSystems 6.4 (2021): e00530-21.
Berges, John A., Driskill, Allison M., Guinn, Emily J., Pokrzywinski, Kaytee, Quinlan, Jessica, von Korff, Benjamin, and Young, Erica B. “Role of nearshore benthic algae in the Lake Michigan silica cycle.” PLOS one 16.8 (2021): e0256838.
Wang, Zixuan, He, Zhen, and Young, Erica B. “Toward enhanced performance of integrated photo-bioelectrochemical systems: Taxa and functions in bacteria-algae communities.” Current Opinions in Chemical Biology 59. (2020): 130-139.
Nayfach, Stephen, Young (part of IMG consortium), Erica B., and others, and Eloe-Fadrosh, Emiley. “A Genomic Catalogue of Earth’s Microbiomes.” Nature Biotechnology. (2020).
Donnelly, Alison C., Yu, Rong, Rheberg, Chloe, Meyer, Gretchen A., and Young, Erica B. “Leaf chlorophyll estimates of temperate deciduous shrubs during autumn senescence using a SPAD-502 meter and calibration with extracted chlorophyll.” Annals of Forest Sciences 77.30 (2020).
Luo, Shuai, Waller, Lucas, Badgely, Brian, He, Zhen, and Young, Erica B. “Effects of bacterial inoculation and nitrogen loading on bacterial-algal consortium composition and functions in an integrated photobioelectrochemical system.” Science of The Total Environment 716. (2020): 137135.
Kozik, Christine, Young, Erica B., Sandgren, Craig D., and Berges, John A. “Cell death in individual freshwater phytoplankton species: relationships with population dynamics and environmental factors.” European Journal of Phycology 54.3 (2019): 369-379.
Young, Erica B., Sielicki, Jessica R., and Grothjan, Jacob J. “Regulation of hydrolytic enzyme activity in aquatic microbial communities hosted by carnivorous pitcher plants.” Microbial Ecology 76.4 (2018): 885-898.
Hanson, Alicia M., Berges, John A., and Young, Erica B. “Virus diversity and relationship to bacteria and chlorophyll across a freshwater trophic gradient in the Lake Michigan watershed.” Hydrobiologia 741.1 (2017): 93-108.
Young, Erica B., and Berges, John A. “Nitrate reductase: a nexus of disciplines, organisms and metabolism.” Aquatic Nutrient Biogeochemistry and Microbial Ecology: A Dual Perspective. Ed. Glibert, Patricia. (2016).
Young, Erica B., and Berges, John A. “Nitrogen stress in the marine environment: from scarcity to surfeit.” Stressors in the Marine Environment: physiological responses and ecological implications. Ed. Solan, Martin. (2016).
Xiao, Li, Young, Erica B., Grothjan, Jacob, Lyon, Stephen, Zhang, Husen, and He, Zhen. “Wastewater Treatment and Microbial Communities in an Integrated Photo-Bioelectrochemical System Affected by Different Wastewater Algal Inocula.” Algal Research 12. (2015): 446-454.
Engevold, Paul, Young, Erica B., Sandgren, Craig D., and Berges, John A. “Pressure from top and bottom: lower food web responses to nutrient cycling changes and invasive species in western Lake Michigan.” Journal of Great Lakes Research 41. (2015).
Lee, Philip O., McLellan, Sandra, Graham, Linda E., and Young, Erica B. “Invasive Dreissenid mussels and benthic algae in Lake Michigan: Characterizing the effects on sediment bacterial communities.” FEMS Microbiology Ecology 91.1 (2015): 1-12.
Bechette, Audrey, Stojsavljevic, Thomas, Tessmer, Maxx, Berges, John A., Pinter, Gabriella A., and Young, Erica B. “Mathematical Modeling of Bacteria-Virus Interactions in Lake Michigan Incorporating Phosphorus Content.” Journal of Great Lakes Research, Elsevier 39.4 (2013).
Zulkifly, Sharizim B., Graham, James M., Young, Erica B., Mayer, Robert J., Piotrowski, Michael J., Smith, Benjamin D., and Graham, Linda E. “The genus Cladophora: An ecological engineer in globally distributed marine and freshwater littoral habitats as a globally distributed ecological engineer.” Journal of Phycology 49. (2013): 1-17.
Xiao, Li, Young, Erica B., Berges, John A., and He, Zhen. “Integrated Photo-Bioelectrochemical System for Contaminant Removal and Bioenergy Production.” Environmental Science and Technology 46. (2012): 11459-11466.
Mills, Jason E., Young, Erica B., Meyer, Gretchen A., and Reinartz, James A. “An exotic invasive shrub has greater recruitment than native shrub species within a large, undisturbed wetland.” Plant Ecology 213.9 Ed. Enright, Neal. (2012): 1425-1436.
Zulkifly, SB, Hanshew, Alissa, Young, Erica B., Lee, Philip, Graham, Melissa, Graham, Michael, and Graham, Linda. “The epiphytic microbiota of the globally widespread macroalga Cladophora (Chlorophyta, Cladophorales).” American Journal of Botany 99.9 (2012): 1542-1553.
Young, Erica B., Lowes, Chelsea I., Hanson, Alicia M., and Onorevole, Kathleen. “ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE ACTIVITY AND USE OF ALTERNATIVE PHOSPHORUS SOURCES BY PHYTOPLANKTON IN P-LIMITED FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEMS.” Journal of Phycology 47.SI (2011): 18-19.
Young, Erica B., Tucker, Rebecca C., and Pansch, Lori. “Alkaline Phosphatase in Freshwater Cladophora-Epiphyte Assemblages: Cell Regulation in Response to Phosphorus Supply and Localization.” Journal of Phycology 46.1 (2010): 93-101.
Mills, Jason E., Reinartz, James, Meyer, Gretchen, and Young, Erica B. “Consequences of glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula) invasion of a large wetland complex.” Biological Invasions 11. (2009): 1803-1820.
Young, Erica B., Berges, John A., and Dring, Matthew J. “Physiological responses of intertidal marine brown algae to nitrogen deprivation and resupply of nitrate and ammonium.” Physiol. Plant. 135. (2009): 400-11.
Bott, T., Meyer, G. A., and Young, Erica B. “Nutrient limitation and morphological plasticity of the carnivorous pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea in contrasting wetland environments.” New Phytologist 180. (2008): 631-641.