Mail Address: Comparative Genomics Centre,
Marine & Tropical Biology Bldg DB23-121, James Cook University,
Townsville, 4811, Queensland, Australia
Telephone: 61-7-4781 5795 Fax:  61-7-4725 1570



The Algal Biology Group research focuses on microalgal cell biology and molecular taxonomy for the identification, development and implementation of high-yield microalgae in environmental and commercial applications

Specific research emphasis is placed on the use of microalgae for biological carbon capture, development of value-adding co-products and waste water remediation.

The world’s first tropical microalgal research facility (NQ Algal Identification/Culturing Facility (NQAIF)) was established at JCU through ARC-LIEF funding and currently holds >300 GBR-derived marine and freshwater cultures for microalgal research. Biochemical profiles, nutrient requirements, and growth performance data are being compiled for the microalgal library to inform commercial scale application of selected strains and is the heart of the multimillion dollar R&D project designed to produce value adding co-products such as third generation biofuels, animal feeds and high-value products such as omega-3 fatty acids funded through federal, state governments and industry.

A large part of the current research focuses on developing and engineering solutions to overcome current limitations regarding successful use of microalgae for biotechnology and large-scale environmental applications (e.g. economical photobioreactor designs etc.).

With regards to environmental applications of microalgae for biotechnology and large-scale environmental applications (e.g. economical photobioreactor designs etc.).
With regards to environmental applications of microalgae, the algal biology group has developed a fast bioluminescence-based whole effluent toxicity test which initiated the development of an industry-based validation study plan to gain US-EPA approval for this assay for compulsory whole effluent tests for the Oil and Gas Industry. The group has also identified pollutant resistant strains of microalgae which can now be used for waste water remediation.
Imagine of microalgal culture facility

Group Head: Research Assistants:
Office Staff:
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Students interested in undertaking a PhD or Masters project in the Algal Biology Group should contact Kirsten Heimann to discuss projects of mutual interest. Most higher degrees students would be expected to be eligible for a scholarship through the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scheme, the James Cook University Postgraduate Research Scholarship or an equivalent national or international scholarship.

The Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) and James Cook University Postgraduate Research Scholarship (JCUPRS) are open to applicants with, or who expect to hold, a first class honours degree or equivalent by the end of the year and who wish to undertake full-time research Masters or PhD program. In 2010 the stipends for an APA were $22,500 pa (full time) or $12,176 (part-time). APA applicants must be Australian citizens or have been granted permanent resident status and lived in Australia continuously for 12 months prior to receiving the award; Information and application forms can be obtained from the Graduate Research School.  Closing Date: 31 October of each year.

Students who have completed their undergraduate training in a BSc, BBiomedSc, BMedlabSc or equivalent program and are interested in participating in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honours Program are encouraged to contact Kirsten Heimann for a description of currently available projects. Honours studies require a full-time commitment for one year (two semesters) and can start in either February or August.

There are two main opportunities for undergraduates to participate in the ongoing research of the Algal Biology Group.

Students can apply for a Comparative Genomics Centre Vacation Scholar Award. The successful applicants receive instruction in the latest genetic and immunological techniques, receiving a stipend of $200 per week for a full-time commitment of between 6 and 10 weeks over the summer break. Applications for the CGC Vacation Studentships are announced in September each year and close in late October. Contact Kirsten Heimann for further details.


      Pisani, Michelle J., Fromm, Phillip D., Mulyana, Yanyan, Clarke, Ronald J., Körner, Heinrich, Heimann, Kirsten, Collins, J. Grant, and Keene, F. Richard (2011) Mechanism of Cytotoxicity and Cellular Uptake of Lipophilic Inert Dinuclear Polypyridylruthenium(II) Complexes. ChemMedChem, 6 (5). pp. 848-858. ISSN 1860-7187

Magnusson, Marie, Heimann, Kirsten, Quayle, Pamela, and Negri, Andrew P. (2010) Additive toxicity of herbicide mixtures and comparative sensitivity of tropical benthic microalgae. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 60 (11). pp. 1978-1987. ISSN 1879-3363

Welladsen, Heather M., Southgate, Paul C., and Heimann, Kirsten (2010) The effects of exposure to near-future levels of ocean acidification on shell characteristics of Pinctada fucata (Bivalvia: Pteriidae). Molluscan Research, 30 (3). pp. 125-130. ISSN 1323-5818

Huerlimann, Roger, De Nys, Rocky, and Heimann, Kirsten (2010) Growth, lipid content, productivity, and fatty acid composition of tropical microalgae for scale-up production. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 107 (2). pp. 245-257. ISSN 1097-0290

Pisani, Michelle J., Weber, Daniel K., Heimann, Kirsten, Collins, J. Grant, and Keene, F. Richard (2010) Selective mitochondrial accumulation of cytotoxic dinuclear polypyridyl ruthenium(II) complexes. Metallomics, 2 (6). pp. 393-396. ISSN 1756-591X

Heimann, Kirsten, and Katsaros, Christos (2009) Algal cell biology and genomics. Botanica Marina, 52 . pp. 93-94. ISSN 1437-4323

Heimann, Kirsten, Klerks, Paul L., and Hasenstein, Karl H. (2009) Involvement of actin and microtubules in regulation of bioluminescence and translocation of chloroplasts in the dinoflagellate Pyrocystis lunula. Botanica Marina, 52 (2). pp. 170-177. ISSN 1437-4323

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  Comparative Genomics Centre, Center, James Cook University, Key words: Coral, Genetics, gene, genome, DNA, linkage, Autoimmune diabetes, Type 1 diabetes mellitus, childhood diabetes, lupus, systemic lupus erythematosus, haemolytic anaemia, hemolytic anemia, Coombs' test, antinuclear antibodies, renal failure, glomerulonephritis, gastritis, type A gastritis, pernicious anemia.