Professor Frithjof Kuepper

Professor Frithjof Kuepper

MASTS Chair in Marine Biodiversity

Professor Frithjof Kuepper
Professor Frithjof Kuepper

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 274490
fax +44-1224-274402
The University of Aberdeen Professor Frithjof C. Kuepper
Chair in Marine Biodiversity
University of Aberdeen
Main Street
Newburgh AB41 6AA
Scotland, UK

Scottish Marine Institute / Scottish Association for Marine Science


Project website: Algal and Oomycete Diversity in the Canadian Marine Arctic (2009 expedition to Baffin Island, Nunavut)


Project website: Brown Algal Biodiversity and Ecology in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea


ASSEMBLE - Association of European Marine Biological Laboratories


EMBRC - European Marine Biological Resource Centre


Hellenic Phycological Society


Frithjof C. Küpper has recently been appointed to the Chair in Marine Biodiversity at the University of Aberdeen (Oceanlab). Before this, he held a readership (2009-2011) / lectureship (2003-2009) and the position of Head of the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP) at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) from 2003-2008. Over the past 24 years, Dr. Küpper has studied the inorganic biochemistry, chemical ecology and physiology of aquatic and marine plants/algae, especially in the context of biotic / abiotic stress and biogeochemical cycles. In his polar research activities both in the Arctic and Antarctic (see below), he is investigating the biodiversity and ecology (in particular, again, pathologies) of marine macroalgae.This work has led to the publication of 66 ISI-listed, peer-reviewed papers and 3 book chapters (cited > 1,500 times, h index: 22). His research interest in algal pathologies and defence reactions arose during his graduate studies with Dieter G. Müller (Konstanz) and Bernard Kloareg (Roscoff) for a joint French-German Ph.D. (1998-2001), which. included the first finding of an oxidative burst in a brown alga.- As a post-doctoral researcher with Prof. Alison Butler at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2001-3), he studied the role of microbial siderophores (metal chelators) in marine ecosystems (where he remains a visiting professor in the Dept. of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, EEMB). Within the same context, Frithjof Küpper has collaborated closely with Carl J. Carrano (San Diego State University) and his SAMS colleague, David H. Green, on 2 projects investigating the role of microbial siderophores in microalgal-bacterial symbioses and on metal acquisition and storage in the brown algal genomics model Ectocarpus (ongoing work with Carl J. Carrano and Berthold F. Matzanke), respectively. This work has revealed that certain, photochemically active siderophores enhance algal trace metal nutrition through their photolysis (PNAS 106(40), 17071–6), and that a range of siderophores can bind significant levels of borate (effectively extending the classical paradigm of siderophores being merely iron chelators). In recent years, he has developed particular interests in the use of X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) as a non-invasive probe for biological iodine and bromine (and trace metals), and the atmospheric impact of algal halogen emissions. The latter has resulted in the finding of iodide serving the role of an inorganic antioxidant in kelp, the first described from a living system, with implications for atmospheric and marine chemistry (PNAS 105(19), 6954-8). This work was selected as one of the 100 Science Stories of the Year 2008 by DISCOVER Magazine and received substantial media coverage. Furthermore, Frithjof Küpper is particularly interested in algal pathologies – in particular, the most basal oomycete known to this date, Eurychasma. Frithjof’s group was involved in the annotation of the genome of the first multicellular alga, Ectocarpus (Nature 465, 617-21). Ectocarpus- / Eurychasma-related work in his group has received a substantial amount of funding from NERC (NE/D521522/1; M&FMB International Opportunities Fund; Oceans 2025 WP 4.5; MGF 211; NE/F012578/ ) and other funding sources (German Academic Merit Foundation; two doctoral and one post-doctoral Marie Curie Fellowships of the European Commission).- Frithjof has conducted expeditions and field trips with a scope in phycological / marine research throughout the world, including Malaysia, Chile, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, Ascension Island, Japan, California, Greece and, most recently, the Canadian Arctic (summer 2009) and, in December-January 2010-2011, the Antarctic. Most of these expeditions – but in particular the Arctic and Antarctic – have included scientific diving. Indeed, he is a keen scuba diver and has been certified for scientific diving in the USA (AAUS), UK (HSE Scuba IV) and Europe (European Research Diver Certificate). In this context, he has developed an interest in scientific cinematography, recently resulting in the production of a short documentary, Immersed in the Arctic (Director: Alexandros Giannios, Athens).- Frithjof is a member of the Editorial Boards of Algae and Marine Biotechnology, the Peer Review College of the UK Natural Environment Research Council,the council of the Hellenic Phycological Society, and he was a member of the Council of the British Phycological Society from 2004-2007. Frithjof is fluent in English, French, Modern Greek and German (native language).


Research Interests

Biochemistry and biodiversity of marine algae and microbes

Current Research

Oomycete pathogens of marine algae


Iodine and defense metabolism in marine brown algae


Trace metal uptake and storage in marine algae


Biodiversity and taxonomy of marine brown algae (especially of polar regions and the Mediterranean Sea)


Dr. Pieter van West (Aberdeen Oomycete Laboratory, University of Aberdeen)


Prof. Carl J. Carrano (Bioinorganic Chemistry, San Diego State University)


Prof. Christos Katsaros (Phycology, University of Athens)


Dr. Martin C. Feiters (Radboud University Nijmegen)


Prof. Lucy J. Carpenter (University of York)


Prof. George W. Luther III (University of Delaware, Lewes)


Unité de Recherche Végétaux Marins et Biomolécules (CNRS-UPMC Station Biologique de Roscoff)

(Dr. Philippe Potin, Dr. Akira F. Peters, Dr. J. Mark Cock, Dr. Catherine Leblanc)


Dr. Claire M.M. Gachon (Scottish Association for Marine Science)


Prof. Hendrik Küpper (University of Konstanz)


Dr. Martin D.J. Sayer & UK National Facility for Scientific Diving (Scottish Association for Marine Science)

Research Grants

(only currently active grants listed)


Algal and oomycete diversity in the Canadian Marine Arctic (2009-)

(TOTAL Foundation)



Brown Algal Ecology and Biodiversity in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (2010-)

(TOTAL Foundation)


Teaching Responsibilities

ZO4808: Marine Benthic Ecology

(Coordinator; lectures mostly on phycological subjects)


BI 25Z2: Ocean Biology
(lectures: Introduction to Phycology; Bioinorganic Chemistry of Marine Organisms)


Further Info

External Responsibilities

Member of the NERC Peer Review College (2009-2012)


Reviewer for the following funding agencies:

British Council; Caribbean Coral Reef Institute; Enterprise Ireland; European Science Foundation; German-Israeli Foundation; Icelandic Research Fund; Marine Biological Association UK; Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs (Greece); National Science Foundation (NSF) USA; Natural Environment Research Council (NERC; Peer Review College Member, 2009-2012); National Research Foundation (NRF) South Africa


Reviewer for the following journals:

Algae; Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics; Environmental Science & Technology; Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science; European Journal of Phycology; Functional Plant Biology; International Review of Hydrobiology; Journal of Applied Phycology; Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry; Journal of Phycology; Malaysian Journal of Science; Marine Biotechnology; Marine Chemistry; Mycological Research; New Phytologist; Phycological Research; Plant Biology; Polar Research; Science


Society and Editorial Board Memberships

British Phycological Society (2004- present; member of scientific council: Jan. 2004 - 2007)

Ελληνικη Φυκολογικη Εταιρια (Greek Phycological Society; 2009 – present; member of governing council: Dec. 2011 - present)

Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft (German Botanical Society; 1998 - present)

Sektion Phykologie der Deutschen Botanischen Gesellschaft (Phycological Section of the German Botanical Society; 2006 - present)

Malaysian Society for Marine Science (lifetime member since Nov. 2008)

Naturschutzbund Deutschland (German Wildlife Federation; 1990 - present)

Editorial Board member, Marine Biotechnology (Jan. 2005 – present)

OTEC (Ocean Technology & Environmental Consulting, member of Board of Advisors)


English, Modern Greek, French, German

Students and Postdocs

M.Sc. students

Alexandra Mystikou (University of Aberdeen, 2012)


Ph.D. students

Cliff Ross (co-supervisor at UC Santa Barbara, 2002-2005; main supervisor: Robert S. Jacobs)

Martina Strittmatter (SAMS, 2007-2010; main supervisor)

Julia Kleinteich (co-supervisor at University of Konstanz, 2010-; main supervisor: Daniel Dietrich)

Kyle Fletcher (University of Aberdeen, 2011-; main supervisor)

Alexandra Mystikou (University of Aberdeen, 2012-; main supervisor)

Anni Makela (University of Aberdeen, 2013-; co-supervisor / lead supervisor: Prof. U. Witte)

Iosif Makris (University of Aberdeen, 2013-; main supervisor)



Postdoctoral fellows and research associates

Eun Chan Yang (SAMS, 2007-2008)

Svenja Heesch (SAMS, 2009-2011)

Abdul Hussain Shar (University of Aberdeen, 2012-2013)

Selected publications

Küpper FC, Feiters MC, Olofsson B, Kaiho T, Yanagida S, Zimmermann MB, Carpenter LJ, Luther III GW, Lu Z, Jonsson M, Kloo L, 2011: Commemorating two centuries of iodine research: An interdisciplinary review.- Angewandte Chemie – International Edition 50, 11598 – 11620

Cock JM, Sterck L, Rouzé P, Scornet D, Allen AE, Amoutzias G, Anthouard V, Artiguenave F, Aury J-M, Badger JH, Beszteri B, Billiau K, Bonnet E, Bothwell JHF, Bowler C, Boyen C, Brownlee C, Carrano CJ, Charrier B, Cho GY, Coelho SM, Collén J, Corre E, Da Silva C, Delage L, Delaroque N, Dittami SM, Doulbeau S, Elias M, Farnham G, Gachon CMM, Gschloessl B, Heesch S, Jabbari K, Jubin C, Kawai H, Kimura K, Kloareg B, Küpper FC, Lang D, Le Bail A, Leblanc C, Lerouge P, Lohr M, Lopez PJ, Martens C, Maumus F, Michel G, Miranda-Saavedra D, Morales J, Moreau H, Motomura T, Nagasato C, Napoli CA, Nelson DR, Nyvall-Collén P, Peters AF, Pommier C, Potin P, Poulain P, Quesneville H, Read B, Rensing SA, Ritter A, Rousvoal S, Samanta M, Samson G, Schroeder DC, Ségurens B, Strittmatter M, Tonon T, Tregear J, Valentin K, von Dassow P, Yamagishi T, Van de Peer Y, Wincker P, 2010: The Ectocarpus genome and the independent evolution of multicellularity in the brown algae.- Nature 465, 617-21

Amin SA, Green DH, Hart MC, Küpper FC, Sunda WG, Carrano CJ, 2009: Photolysis of iron–siderophore chelates promotes bacterial–algal mutualism.- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106(40), 17071–6

Küpper FC, Carpenter LJ, McFiggans GB, Palmer CJ, Waite T, Boneberg E-M, Woitsch S, Weiller M, Abela R, Grolimund D, Potin P, Butler A, Luther III GW, Kroneck PMH, Meyer-Klaucke W, Feiters MC, 2008: Iodide accumulation provides kelp with an inorganic antioxidant impacting atmospheric chemistry.- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 105(19), 6954-8

Küpper FC, Kloareg B, Guern J, Potin P, 2001: Oligoguluronates elicit an oxidative burst in the brown algal kelp Laminaria digitata.- Plant Physiology 125, 278-91

Küpper FC, Müller DG, 1999: Massive occurrence of the heterokont and fungal parasites Anisolpidium, Eurychasma and Chytridium in Pylaiella littoralis (Ectocarpales, Phaeophyceae).- Nova Hedwigia 69, 381-9

Küpper H, Küpper FC, Spiller M, 1996: Environmental relevance of heavy metal substituted chlorophylls using the example of submersed water plants.- Journal of Experimental Botany 47 (295), 259-66

Competitions and awards



3rd prize: University of British Columbia Award for the Best Student Paper Contribution (XVIIth International Seaweed Symposium, University of Cape Town, South Africa) with the contribution “Pathogen recognition and defense mechanisms in Laminariales”



1st prize at the 3rd Young Europeans’ Environmental Research (YEER) Competition (Essen, Germany) *)



1st prize at the 4th European Community Contest for Young Scientists (Seville, Spain) *)



1st prize at the German federal competition Jugend forscht in the section of biology (Duisburg, Germany) *)


1992-02, 1992-03

1st prizes at the regional and country-wide competition of Jugend forscht in North-Rhine Westphalia in the sections of chemistry and biology, respectively, together the special awards of the ministry of the environment of North-Rhine Westphalia at both competitions *)



1st monthly prize in the nationwide competition Jugend schützt Umwelt  / Sven-Simon-Preis (Berlin, Germany), “Hedgehog conservation”



1st prize in the section of biology at the regional competition Jugend forscht / Schüler experimentieren (German young scientists' competition) with a contribution about "Plant pigments and autumnal foliages" (together with my younger brother Hendrik and Martin Spiller)


*) At all competitions in 1992 the following contribution was presented (together with H. Küpper and M. Spiller): "Environmental relevance of heavy metal substituted chlorophylls using the example of submersed water plants"