the takuvik


Département de Biologie /
Pavillon Alexandre-Vachon
1045, av. de la Médecine, local 2064
Université Laval
Québec (Québec) G1V 0A6
Phone : +1 418 656 2131 ext. 4880


Alexander Culley

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Assistant Professor in Microbial Virology in the Department of Microbiology

Phone : 418-656-2131 #8502
Fax : 418-656-7176

Viral Ecology in the North

The Viral Discovery and Ecology Laboratory (ViDEL) is part of the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Bioinformatics in the Faculty of Science and Engineeringat Laval University. Our group is particularly interested in the investigation of the diversity and dynamics of viral communities in polar aquatic environments. Our present sampling efforts are focused on the lakes and coastal regions of the Northern coast of Ellesmere Island and Northern Québec. It takes a village to make northern research happen, and we are thus grateful to be members of CEN, GREB, IBIS, and TAKUVIK. 


Education and research

Laval University, Québec, Québec

  • Assistant Professor in Microbial Virology in the Department of Microbiology, 2013-present

Project 1: Sentinel microbiomes for Arctic ecosystem health
Project 2: Optogenetics investigation of microbiota influence on brain development and epigenetics
Project 3: Comprehensive environmental monitoring and valorisation: from molecules to
Project 4: Ecology of aquatic viruses in the Arctic
Project 5: Impacts of the changing global environment at Nunavut’s northern frontier

University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, BC

  • Doctoral research with Curtis Suttle, 2000-2007
  • Ph.D., Marine Microbiology, Jan 2007 (nominee for the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies Distinguished Dissertation Award)

Dissertation: “Characterization of RNA viruses from the coastal waters of British Columbia”
Project 1: Genome sequence and characterization of Heterosigma akashiwo RNA virus
Project 2: Characterization of picorna-like viruses in the ocean
Project 3: Metagenomic analysis of marine RNA virus communities
Project 4: Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES) expedition
  Project 5: Heterosigma akashiwo blooms and aquaculture (NSERC collaborative research and development grant with the aquaculture company Marine Harvest Canada)

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, CA

  • Master’s research with Nick Welschmeyer, 1997-2000
  • M.S., Biological Oceanography, June 2000

Thesis: “Spatial distribution of marine viruses along a transect from CA to HI”
Project 1: Primary production in the ocean: the grazing problem revisited

Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory, Moss Landing, CA

  • Field Assistant with Rusty Fairey, 1999-2000
  • Lab Technician with Mark Stephenson, 1997-1998

Project 1: Coastal CA fish contamination study
Project 2: CA Mussel watch program

University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

  • Undergraduate study with Richard Emlet, 1993
  • BSc, major in Biology, June 1993

Project 1: The effects of UV radiation on the development of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus larvae  



  • Cruaud P, Vigneron A, Fradette M, Charette SJ, Rodriguez MJ, Dorea C & Culley AI. 2017. Open the Sterivex casing: an easy and effective way to improve DNA extraction yields. Journal of Microbial Methods. Submitted
  • Mohit V, Culley A, Bouchard F, Lovejoy C, Vincent W. 2017. Hidden benthic Biofilms in an extreme Arctic Lake. npj Biofilms and Microbiomes. Accepted
  • Déraspe M, Raymond F, Boisvert S, Culley A, Roy P, Laviolette F, Corbeil J. 2017. Phenetic comparison of genomes using k-mers for evolutionary analysis of prokaryotes. Molecular Biology and Evolution. Accepted.
  • Brisebois E, Veillette M, Dion-Dupont V, Lavoie J, Corbeil J, Culley A, Duchaine C. 2017. Human viral pathogens are pervasive in wastewater treatment center aerosols. Journal of Environmental Sciences. Accepted.
  • Trudel M, Vincent A, Attéré S, Labbé M, Derome N, Culley A, Charette S. 2016. Diversity of antibiotic-resistance genes in Canadian isolates of Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida: dominance of pSN254b and discovery of pAsa8. Scientific Reports. 6: 35617.
  • Vincent A, Derome N, Boyle B, Culley A, Charette S. 2016. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) in the microbiological world: how to make the most of your money. Journal of Microbial Methods. S0167-7012:30031-30038.
  • Mueller J, Culley A, Schvarcz C, Steward G. 2016. RNA viruses as major contributors to Antarctic virioplankton. Environmental Microbiology. 18(11): 3714-3727.
  • Culley A, Shakya M, Lang A. 2014. Viral evolution at the limits in Microbial Evolution under Extreme Conditions (Wagner D, Ed.). De Gruyter. Pp 209-222.
  • Culley A, Mueller J, Belcaid M, Wood-Charlson E, Poisson G, Steward G. 2014. Characterization of RNA viruses in a tropical embayment using metagenomics and targeted PCR. mBio. 5(3): e01210-14.
  • Mueller J, Culley A, Steward G. 2014. Variables influencing extraction of nucleic acids from microbial plankton (viruses, bacteria, and protists) collected on nanoporous aluminum oxide filters. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 80(3): 3930-3942.
  • Culley A. 2013. Insight into the unknown marine virus majority. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110(30): 12166-12167.
  • Brum J, Culley A, Steward G. 2013. Assembly of a marine viral metagenome after physical fractionation. Environmental Microbiology Reports. PloS ONE. 8(4): e60604.
  • Steward G, Culley A, Mueller J, Wood-Charlson E, Belcaid M, Poisson G. 2013. Are we missing half the viruses in the ocean? ISME Journal. 7: 672-679.
  • Nigro O, Culley A, Steward G. 2012. Complete genome sequence of a bacteriophage that infects Vibrio vulnificus, VvAW1. Standards in Genomic Science. 6:287-292.
  • Steward G, Culley A, Wood-Charlson E. 2012. Marine Viruses in Encyclopedia of Biodiversity (Levin S. Ed.) Elsevier.
  • Culley A, Lang A, Suttle C. 2012. Marnaviridae in Virus Taxonomy: Ninth Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (King A, Adams M, Carstens E, Lefkowitz E, Eds.) Elsevier. Pp 850-854.
  • Culley A. 2011. Virophages to viromes: a report from the frontier of viral oceanography. Current Opinion in Virology 1:52-57.
  • Steward G, Culley A. 2010. Extraction and Purification of Nucleic Acids from Viruses in Manual in Aquatic Viral Ecology, (Wilhelm S, Weinbauer M, Suttle C Eds.) Limnology and Oceanography: Methods. 15: 154-165.
  • Culley A, Suttle, C, Steward G. 2010. Characterization of the diversity of marine RNA viruses in Manual in Aquatic Viral Ecology, (Wilhelm S, Weinbauer M, Suttle C Eds.) Limnology and Oceanography: Methods. 19: 193-201.
  • Culley A, Asuncion B, Steward G. 2009. Detection of inteins among diverse DNA polymerase genes of uncultivated members of the Phycodnaviridae. ISME Journal 3:409-418.
  • Lang A, Rise M, Culley A, Steward G. 2009. RNA viruses in the sea. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 33:295.
  • Culley A, Steward G. 2007. New genera of RNA viruses in subtropical seawater inferred from polymerase gene sequences. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73:5937-5944.
  • Culley A, Lang A, Suttle C. 2007. The complete genomes of three viruses assembled from shotgun libraries of marine RNA virus communities. Virology Journal, 4:69.
  • Culley A, Suttle C. 2007. Viral community structure in ASM Manual of Environmental Microbiology 3rd edition, (Hurst C, Crawford R, Garland J, Lipson D, Mills A, Stetzenbach L Eds.) ASM Press. Pp 445-453.
  • Culley A, Lang A, Suttle C. 2006. Metagenomic analysis of coastal RNA virus communities. Science, 312:1795-1798.
  • Culley A, Lang A, Suttle C. 2005. Marnaviridae in Virus Taxonomy: Eighth Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (Fauquet C, Mayo M, Maniloff J, Desselberger U, Ball L Eds.) Academic Press. Pp 789-792.
  • Lang A, Culley A, Suttle C. 2004. Genome sequence and characterization of a virus (HaRNAV) related to picorna-like viruses that infects the marine toxic bloom-forming alga Heterosigma akashiwo. Virology, 320:206-217.
  • Culley A, Lang A, Suttle C. 2003. High diversity of unknown picorna-like viruses in the sea. Nature, 424:1054-1057.
  • Tai V, Lawrence J, Lang A, Chan A, Culley A, Suttle C. 2003. Characterization of HaRNAV, a single-stranded RNA virus causing lysis of Heterosigma akashiwo (Raphidophyceae). Journal of Phycology, 39:343-352.
  • Culley A, Welschmeyer N. 2002. The abundance, distribution, and correlation of viruses, phytoplankton, and prokaryotes along a Pacific Ocean transect. Limnology and Oceanography, 47(5): 1508-1513.


  • Tara Expeditions: Participating institutions include The European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, NASA, University of Maine, The Ohio State University, Université de Nice, Oregon State University, Génoscope, among others. 2017-present (
  • Centre d'études Nordiques (CEN): Participating institutions include Université Laval, Université du Québec à Rimouski and Centre Eau, Terre et Environnement of Institut national de la recherche scientifique, 2013-present (
  • Québec-Ocean (Q-O): Participating institutions are Université Laval, McGill University, l'Université du Québec à Rimouski, l'Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, 2013-present (
  • Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research & Education (C-MORE): Participating institutions are MIT, MBARI, Oregon State University, UC-Santa Cruz, UHM and WHOI, 2007-present (
  • Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (LTER): Participating institutions are MBL, VIMS, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography, Rutgers University Institute, the British Antarctic Survey, UC-Santa Cruz, WHOI and UW-Madison, 2011